Dark Roast Java

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Coffeehouse Business Plan

Strategy and Implementation Summary

The Dark Roast Java coffeehouse uses a strategy of total quality—in product and service. Our promise is in our location, the products we sell, the people we attract and the atmosphere we create.

Strategic Assumptions:

  • People want a better-tasting coffee drink
  • Coffee drinkers want a more inviting coffeehouse environment
  • Coffee drinks are considered an affordable luxury
  • The coffeehouse industry is largely unaffected by the economy and world events
  • Dark Roast Java offers several unique advantages over all other coffeehouses

5.1 Competitive Edge

Our competitive edge, compared to the other coffeehouses in the greater Pleasantville area includes the following:

  • A significantly higher quality, better tasting coffee product.
  • Our current location can arguably be considered the best in the market—in the heart of the downtown shopping, dining, entertainment and cultural district in Pleasantville and adjacent to the historic Egyptian Theatre.
  • An ambiance superior to all other coffeehouses in the area with upscale "Cote d'Azur" look. It features stained glass decorations, art glasswork, Mediterranean Riviera style furnishings and outdoor dining.
  • The only coffeehouse downtown to provide regular weekend evening entertainment.
  • A wider variety of popular drinks than our competitors, including flavored coffee drinks, tea, chai, cocoa, juice and Italian sodas. We have several drink options for people who don't drink coffee: tea, cocoa, juice and smoothies.
  • Our Internet website will include sales of whole coffee beans, tea, chocolates, gift items and gift baskets.

5.2 Marketing Strategy

Other coffeehouses rely almost entirely on word-of-mouth marketing to generate business. We will engage in an ongoing aggressive marketing program that will help us establish profitability quickly and set the stage for continual growth.

Our strategy will be to position Dark Roast Java as the "Lexus" of coffeehouses, offering a high quality product and superb service in a superior environment.

5.2.1 Launch Marketing

Most coffeehouse chains do little or no marketing and advertising. For example, Starbucks' philosophy is that their ubiquity in the marketplace is all they need to sustain and grow their customer base. They spend less than 1% of gross revenues on advertising, and when they do spend, it is usually to introduce a new product.

The retail coffee industry is a sales-oriented business with historically very little experience in marketing and advertising. This is likely why little is done. As yet, the major players have not been taken over by sophisticated companies like Pepsico, where marketing is viewed as essential to gaining market share. 

An element of our differentiation from other coffeehouse chains will be our use of advertising and marketing to gain awareness, build customer traffic and establish a strong brand image. We intend to create immediate customer awareness and not wait for word-of-mouth. We are also building customer traffic immediately with an aggressive Launch Marketing Plan.

Launch Marketing

Launch marketing will promote awareness, build immediate traffic and establish our brand image via several methods:

  • Public relations/publicity
  • Direct mail
  • Local print and broadcast media
  • Design and packaging
  • Community involvement
  • Sampling
  • Superior location
  • Desirable store ambiance

Public Relations

A strong public relations/publicity program uses as its primary "hook" these three main points:

  1. Dark Roast Java is Pleasantville's first true gourmet coffeehouse
  2. Our unique quality products
  3. Our distinctive latte "art"

The goal of the PR/publicity is to achieve local market awareness and establish the brand on a wider scale to set the stage for future expansion. Local market awareness is vital because more than 50% of sales will come from people living within a 5-mile radius of the store.

National awareness will help drive the expansion by generating opportunities created by the media buzz and familiarizing people with our brand name. It will help set the stage for future brand identification.

Local Media

  • The Pleasantville Gazette
  • Pleasantville Magazine
  • The Mount Hill Journal
  • The Pleasantville Weekly
  • Mount Hill Magazine
  • Pleasantville Dining
  • Pleasantville Seasons
  • KATF radio
  • KEZI radio
  • KWAS radio
  • KSNZ radio
  • KOBR radio
  • KPML radio
  • KKMN radiO
  • KJBU radio
  • KSEC radio
  • KION radio

Regional/National Print Media

  • BusinessWeek
  • The Ontopolis Business Journal
  • Time
  • Newsweek
  • US News
  • Entrepreneur
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Fortune
  • Forbes
  • Robb Report
  • Newspapers in top 50 US markets

National Broadcast Media

  • Feature programming (e.g. Oprah, Good Morning America)
  • 1,500 radio stations nationwide

Direct Mail

  • Ongoing direct mail generated from our website data
  • Visa or MasterCard local direct mail program


Our website is fully e-commerce functional and could easily become a significant revenue source.

We will eventually sell the following items online:

  • Whole coffee beans, tea
  • Gift baskets
  • Gift items
  • Furnishings

And in a first for any coffeehouse in the world, we will also sell a catalog of glass artwork representative of our store decor. We will act as the sales agent for a number of participating stained glass, and art glass artisans.

The website also markets Dark Roast Java with:

  • A monthly newsletter
  • Interesting information about the coffee industry
  • A map to our store
  • Store hours
  • Special events
  • Coffee recipes

Most of these functions are already up and running.


Pleasantville and the southern part of the state are home to thousands of individuals who can be important to the successful positioning of Dark Roast Java. One mention on a TV talk program or in a 'lifestyle' magazine can (and has) launched many successful careers and businesses.

With literally hundreds of celebrities and wealthy business people as local residents, the word-of-mouth recommendations from these people can drive significant business to us as well as generate favorable publicity.

Many celebrities visit Pleasantville or have second homes here. The wife of the billionaire owner of Nationwide Communications owns the Pleasantville newspaper. A former actor owns a local vineyard and is a major hotel developer. Politicians and entertainers have interests in several restaurants. Our Mount Hill location will be in a building owned by a clothing brand multi-millionaire.

Celebrities in Pleasantville are also actively involved in the community, many supporting several local charities. Our involvement in the community will enable us to garner exposure for Dark Roast Java among an important group of local residents. 

Key individuals will be targeted with gift baskets from Dark Roast Java containing samples of our products to entice them to visit Dark Roast Java and talk about us with their friends.

Design style

The interior design of Dark Roast Java is unlike any other coffeehouse chain. While there are some upscale designs, they are all of the modern Italian or Starbucks look. Our upscale stylized "Cote d'Azur" Mediterranean Riviera design, featuring stained glass decorations, art glasswork, differentiates us from all others.

Gift Items

We carry a wide variety of quality gift items, including gift baskets. Gift basket business could eventually grow to be substantial. However, since it is difficult to project at this time we have not included it in the financial computations. We also offer sales of stained glass and glass artwork by the artisans who produced our decor furnishings.

Community Involvement

We will make ourselves an integral part of the local and world community. This will generate goodwill, create opportunities to forge important contacts with key people and live up to our company Mission Statement.

Some of these community involvement goals include:

  • Take an active role in the Chamber of Commerce
  • Supply complementary product to local charities for fund-raising activities
  • Sponsor local sports teams
  • Create and sponsor a Pleasantville to La Pine cross-mountain foot race following the old Stone Canyon stage route
  • Purchase fair trade coffee whenever possible
  • Support Fair Trade, organic, sustainable farming


The location of the first Dark Roast Java in Pleasantville is a prototype of future sites. Our second site on busy Shoreline Road in Mount Hill will feature our flagship store. It will be located just off the Oak Patch Road and Highway 66 exit, across from the Mount Hill Inn and The Junction Restaurant. It is by far the best location in Mount Hill—one of America's most affluent cities.

We will build Dark Roast Java coffeehouses in the best locations possible, as this is the key element in a successful operation.

Site selection criteria include:

  • High traffic location
  • Small or mid-size affluent market
  • Year-round tourist activity
  • Nearby (within 5 miles) student population
  • Outside dining

Other sites that meet these criteria include Newburg, Springfield, Bayview, Shorewood, Orchard Valley, Beachey Head, and Capital City.

Exceptions will be made for some sites if they are deemed to be potentially very profitable.

Sites in other states might include Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, etc. Plans are to locate Dark Roast Java coffeehouses in the Western states for efficiency of supply and management.

Outside Dining

The coffeehouse/cafe experience is indelibly linked to its European origins, where al fresco dining is a way of life. Americans have embraced sidewalk dining. It is one of the fastest growing additions to the American dining scene.

Sidewalk dining also provides an excellent way for prospective customers to see and "check out" the coffeehouse for the first time.


We will engage in several sampling activities to introduce potential customers (and current customers) to Dark Roast Java's range of drink options.

  • Samples will be distributed at the coffeehouse
  • Samples will be given to passers-by on the street
  • Discount coupons will be distributed on the street, via direct mail and at special events
  • Complementary coffee will be served at charitable and civic events
  • Free coffee service will be provided to the Chamber of Commerce, a radio station, the newspaper and at select government offices (e.g. the Planning and Zoning Department)

Portable Kiosk

Within 6 to 8 months we will create a portable Dark Roast Java kiosk to sell and market our products at special events and community activities. Pleasantville has more than 130 such events every year. It will be an excellent way to publicize Dark Roast Java coffee.

The kiosk will be highly visible and fun. It will also potentially be very profitable, although it's hard to determine how profitable with any accuracy until the local response is measured. We believe it could generate $75,000 - $100,000 annual revenue.

Pre-paid, re-loadable, frequency and discount cards

We will promote our program of gift cards and customer frequency cards to drive business and stimulate cash flow. Industry records indicate that 25% - 40% of all gift card amounts go unused. Also, gift cards have proven to be a popular holiday item accounting for more than 5% of total sales during December.

Pre-paid and re-loadable cards have also proven to be very popular with the major chain coffeehouses, again accounting for a significant percentage of sales. These cards promote customer loyalty as well.

Frequency cards rewarding the repeat customer with a free drink after a specified number of visits are popular and proven methods to forge customer loyalty.

Discount cards are used to build goodwill among specific groups such as the Chamber of Commerce members and college students.

By tying in with our computerized sales and inventory system we will be able to track usage and allocate the expense to marketing.

The Future

The number of Dark Roast Java locations could easily reach 20 - 25 within five years. While the financials in this Business Plan only address the Pleasantville location, we can extrapolate from the store's performance (which will be carefully monitored and tracked) to get a general idea of the chain's projected profitability.

With ten coffeehouses the gross revenues, when fully realized, would be more than $10 million using the third year performance figures. Even factoring in the cost of additional staff and other resources, a 10-store chain would likely generate a minimum of $1 million in profits annually, while building significant valuation. A 25-store chain would easily top $2.5 million in annual profits.

Dark Roast Java's start-up, implementation and operation in Pleasantville will be the "blueprint" for future efficient expansion. Our new Mount Hill location will incorporate the knowledge we gain with our first store as well as new creative ideas, and become our "flagship" operation.

Sources:  SRDS, Interep Radio, Scarborough Market Data Survey.

5.3 Sales Strategy

Our sales strategy includes:

  • Staff salaries that are 10% above the industry average in order to attract the best people

  • Hiring for attitude so that we always have a friendly, enthusiastic staff to make customers feel welcome and appreciated; constant staff training to assure the best quality possible

  • State-of-the-art sales/inventory system to (A) reduce customer waiting time, and (B) create efficient product ordering

  • Create a mobile kiosk to take Dark Roast Java into the community at special events, farmer's markets, art shows, etc.

  • Sell coffee, gift baskets and glass artwork on our website

  • Establish coffee service at local businesses

  • Sell gift cards, frequency cards, pre-paid cards, and offer discounts to key groups

  • Create an ongoing sampling program

  • Conduct a consistent, aggressive marketing program

  • Be an active member of the community; be visible at charitable functions

  • Solicit customer feedback to constantly improve and streamline our operation

Key Strategy: an advanced and expandable point-of-sales system

After carefully tracking the performance of the Pleasantville store through an expandable and highly detailed point-of-sale system, we will use this as a "blueprint" for expansion. For example, daily sales are tracked and analyzed by item, time period and cost of goods. Labor requirements are matched to projected in-store sales based upon past performance for maximum efficiency. Even after paying higher than average wages we expect to allocate no more than 25% to labor costs.

Sales are linked to inventory to both streamline the efficiency of ordering and reduce "shrinkage" by instantly alerting us to unusual shortages compared with revenues.

Scheduling can be done online and easily revised to accommodate changes—all while projecting weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual labor costs. Schedules can be sent via email to staff members.

Cost of goods can be monitored for increased efficiency too. As we continually research methods of delivering a high quality but cost-efficient product, and by making small incremental improvements in the costs of items we expect to increase overall COG by a minimum of 5% during the first year of operation.

As expansion occurs, the POS system can be adapted to each individual location and allow the central office to monitor the stores remotely as well as the overall combined operation. Close monitoring will allow us to achieve a high level of communication between stores as well as spot problems immediately and take corrective action.

5.3.1 Sales Forecast

Conservatively, we are forecasting an average of 300 customers per day during the first year with an average guest check expenditure for all items of $4.10. This figure was arrived at by surveying the customer traffic at the nearest competing coffeehouses which have a range of 150 - 500 customers per day and an average customer expenditure of $4.10. We have estimated our customer expenditure to be slightly higher (2.5%) due to the premium price we will charge for some of our items. Total cost of sales is approximately 25%.

We expect growth to occur across all categories at about 10% annually as the business becomes more established and well-known, reaching 400+ customers per day within a year and more than 500+ within three years. These estimates are likely conservative. However, it is possible we could attain a 1,000-per-day customer count within three years.

Sales Forecast
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Coffee drinks $265,101 $344,631 $448,021
Tea, soft drinks, water, juice $167,007 $217,109 $282,241
Pastries, food items $154,126 $200,364 $260,473
Coffee beans $2,105 $2,526 $3,031
Events/mobile kiosk $0 $0 $0
Coffee service to businesses $3,300 $3,630 $3,993
Internet sales $8,500 $10,625 $13,281
Gift items $6,440 $7,728 $9,274
Total Sales $606,579 $786,613 $1,020,314
Direct Cost of Sales Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Coffee drinks $43,828 $44,266 $44,709
Tea, soft drinks, water, juice $26,054 $26,315 $26,578
Pastries, food items $55,241 $55,793 $56,351
Coffee beans $1,280 $1,293 $1,306
Events, mobile kiosk $0 $0 $0
coffee service to businesses $760 $768 $775
Internet sales $3,925 $3,964 $4,004
Gift items $10,109 $10,210 $10,312
Subtotal Direct Cost of Sales $141,197 $142,609 $144,035

5.4 Milestones

The accompanying table lists important program milestones, with dates and managers in charge, and budgets for each. The milestone schedule indicates our emphasis on planning for implementation. A similar milestone development program will be developed for our Mount Hill location to insure its timely execution. What the table doesn't show is the commitment behind it. Our business plan includes complete provisions for plan-vs-actual analysis, and we will hold follow-up meetings every month to discuss the variance and course corrections.
Milestone Start Date End Date Budget Manager Department
Business/Marketing Plan 2/1/2003 4/30/2003 $500 N. P-S Marketing
Secure Funding 2/1/2003 4/30/2003 $500 N. P-S Marketing
Secure lease 2/10/2003 4/30/2003 TBD N. P-S Admin
Secure name licensing 2/10/2003 4/30/2003 TBD N. P-S Marketing
Marketing plan 2/10/2003 4/30/2003 $0 N. P-S Marketing
Structure company type 2/15/2003 4/30/2003 $0 N. P-S Marketing
Develop investor program 2/15/2003 4/30/2003 $0 N. P-S Marketing
Attend Coffee Fest 2/27/2003 3/1/2003 $500 N. P-S/V. L Marketing
Health Dept. 3/1/2003 5/15/2003 TBD N. P-S/V. L Admin
Select and order furnishings 5/1/2003 6/15/2003 TBD N. P-S/V. L Admin
Site plans 3/1/2003 4/30/2003 TBD N. P-S Admin
Select construction contractor 3/15/2003 4/15/2003 $150 N. P-S Admin
Join Spec. Coffee Retailers 3/15/2003 5/30/2003 $250 N. P-S/V. L Marketing
Select and order lighting 4/1/2003 5/30/2003 TBD N. P-S/V. L Marketing
Create employee manual 4/1/2003 5/30/2003 $0 N. P-S Personnel
Alliance with water company 4/1/2003 5/30/2003 $0 N. P-S Admin
Join Chamber of Commerce 4/1/2003 5/30/2003 $250 N. P-S/V. L Admin
Select cash register system 4/15/2003 5/30/2003 $0 N. P-S Admin
Business license, etc. 4/15/2003 5/30/2003 $300 N. P-S/V. L Admin
Select paint contractor 4/15/2003 5/30/2003 $0 V. L Admin
Choose paint palette 4/15/2003 5/30/2003 $0 N. P-S/V. L Admin
Select and order flooring 4/15/2003 5/30/2003 TBD N. P-S/V. L Marketing
Gift items, suppliers, order 4/15/2003 5/15/2003 TBD V. L Marketing
Select pastry supplier 4/15/2003 5/30/2003 $0 V. L Admin
Select equipment supplier 4/15/2003 5/15/2003 $0 N. P-S Admin
Graphics/brochure design 4/15/2003 5/30/2003 $0 N. P-S Marketing
Select confection suppliers 4/15/2003 5/30/2003 $0 N. P-S/V. L Admin
Select juice suppliers 4/15/2003 5/30/2003 $0 N. P-S Admin
Credit card companies 4/30/2003 6/15/2003 $0 N. P-S Admin
Create training program 4/30/2003 6/15/2003 $0 V. L Personnel
Select music system 5/1/2003 6/15/2003 $2,500 N. P-S/V. L Admin
Install wireless Internet 5/1/2003 6/15/2003 TBD N. P-S/V. L Admin
Hire manager, baristas 7/1/2003 9/15/2003 TBD N. P-S/V. L Personnel
Select business insurance 7/1/2003 7/20/2003 TBD N. P-S Admin
Design, print stationery 7/15/2003 7/31/2003 $1,000 N. P-S Admin
Pre-opening parties 9/1/2003 9/15/2003 $1,000 V. L Marketing
GRAND OPENING 9/15/2003 9/30/2003 $1,000 N. P-S/V. L Admin/Marketing
Acheive 700+ daily customers 12/12/2003 1/31/2004 $0 N. P-S/V. L Admin/Marketing
Totals $7,950

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