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Hi All

Was hoping to tap into some experiences of those who sell their roasted coffee at farmers markets (or similar). Do you bring bags of pre-ground with you? If so - what assumptions do you make about the grind setting? Or do you grind to order? (assuming you have access to power) Or do you only sell whole-bean?

Or maybe you have purchased your coffee at a market and have some insights.

I am doing a few charity pop-up events over the next few weeks  - providing  coffee-to-go. But also have the opportunity to sell my beans. So I was thinking of taking whole-beans, in 250gm bags sealed in cheap food-grade plastic bags, along with my bag grinder (Mahlkonig Guatemala) and heat sealer. Then for those who want pre-ground I can grind to order, at the desired setting, into a valve bag and then heat-seal. That way I'm not left sitting with unsold pre-ground coffee. What do you think? 

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Market went absolutely crazy busy over the weekend. To elaborate a bit further - this pop-up was at an outdoor Christmas Tree market. First day open was on Thursday - so this was the first full weeken

Thanks all for your thoughts and experiences. I've decided to go down the track of taking along whole beans and grinding to order. First day is tomorrow - then again on Saturday. Funny you should ment

That's a tricky one without hind site/experience (of your actual venues)... What is the "overhead" of coping with grinding "on-demand" vs the "risk" of losing through wastage? Presumably (as

Grind to order the way to go if you can manage the space, noise and power demands of the kit ( church hall probably, outdoor in field maybe not?) and additional workload perhaps a buy now collect later approach when its busy? 

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That's a tricky one without hind site/experience (of your actual venues)...

What is the "overhead" of coping with grinding "on-demand" vs the "risk" of losing through wastage?

Presumably (as you are also selling drinks) you will have the grinder there already - so no overhead there (unless you were thinking a different grinder - so that you don't muck up your drink making settings by grinding a (single) bag of beans for filter!!) but the bags/sealing kit/space for them :-(
( at least - Loss of display space/carrying stock for the area required for sealing kit and space to use it).

How many bags of "ground" are you likely to sell....
If only one or two then almost certainly not worth the effort to cater for it (except in customer "disappointment"..... )
If dozens/more - Obviously more viable (but begs the question of having that many bags pre-ground and just selling them.

As long as the overhead to cope with it is minimal/low enough then I agree with HDAV - wider market...... but 20 minutes additional set up, issues with "work flow" and/or just no-sales..... quickly affects your bottom line....

As an example I used to do Wedding Fairs (for bespoke Hats & Fascinators etc).
So basically "nothing" to sell/recoup costs immediately....

But we found we could scatter various bits & bobs (jewellery, pre-made "simple" Hats etc) around the stall - at (almost) ZERO overhead.... So if we sold ANYTHING it was a plus (and if we didn't Meh! the stall looked better)

Obviously we didn't have any issues with "staleness" - but we did end up actually doing little bespoke bits (adding feathers etc) to the pre-made stuff on a "Yep pay us up front and come back later" basis - and that required glue-guns, cutting, sinamay, stock of feathers etc as well as 1/2 decent area to do the work)...

When we 1st went we didn't do anything bespoke on site - but the demand (and the willingness to pay) made it worth adapting our model...

Basically - Give it a go (with any of your options) and see how it works out and then adapt with iteration.....

  

 

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We do a market and I take all whole bean and grind to order there. The compromise is the bags are then open but they do at least have a press seal so it isn't the end of the world. It would be impossible to judge the amount of ground coffee to take and I would end up with a load of waste after.

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Thanks all for your thoughts and experiences. I've decided to go down the track of taking along whole beans and grinding to order. First day is tomorrow - then again on Saturday. Funny you should mention being out in a field @HDAV - I'll be at a christmas tree farm! Outdoors - but in a marquee and with good access to power. I'll have the two grinders there @Drewster - one to grind coffee to order and the other dialled in for my espresso blend; as you say, it could be a bad idea to use the same grinder for both purposes! Working space is not an issue. I've done this event for the past three years doing the hot drinks - but this will be the first time selling the fresh coffee. I'll also have some flyers there with the website details. @Black Cat Coffee - are you taking your whole-beans already sealed in the valved retail packs? The problem of have an opened bag reliant on the press-seal is the reason I was thinking of taking them pre-weighed in a plain el-cheapo plastic bag and then sealing them into the retail bag once ground. Anyway - will have to see what the workflow is like. Hopefully there will be time to balance bean sales with drink making. At least someone else will be taking the orders and dealing with the payments!

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My comments are as a “buyer”  not as a “vendor” when It comes to coffee at least I have bought beans at similar events both for me and for presents 

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9 hours ago, Drewster said:

Basically - Give it a go (with any of your options) and see how it works out and then adapt with iteration...

This sounds like pretty sound advice for making it through this thing we call life :)

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Market went absolutely crazy busy over the weekend. To elaborate a bit further - this pop-up was at an outdoor Christmas Tree market. First day open was on Thursday - so this was the first full weekend. The market opened at 9am on the Saturday and by that time there was a queue of cars a mile and a half long waiting for the gates to open. It started with a bang and didn't let up for the next 8 hours. This was the 3rd Christmas I have been there and this year was absolutely nuts! Doing the drinks kept me busy almost the whole time; managed to sell two bags of beans during the market and one as a follow-up online sale. Had a lot of good conversations with locals who seemed to be "into" their coffee and seemed genuinely interested in trying a local roaster (ie me!). Plenty of my business cards went flying out so time will tell if they bear fruit. Thanks for all the comments and good advice. 

One additional question if anyone has some insights ... how do you keep your milk (frothing) jug clean? Do you have a pitcher-rinser connected up? More than one jug? Or just keep washing it out when you have a "quiet" moment?

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6 minutes ago, RDC8 said:

Market went absolutely crazy busy over the weekend. To elaborate a bit further - this pop-up was at an outdoor Christmas Tree market. First day open was on Thursday - so this was the first full weekend. The market opened at 9am on the Saturday and by that time there was a queue of cars a mile and a half long waiting for the gates to open. It started with a bang and didn't let up for the next 8 hours. This was the 3rd Christmas I have been there and this year was absolutely nuts! Doing the drinks kept me busy almost the whole time; managed to sell two bags of beans during the market and one as a follow-up online sale. Had a lot of good conversations with locals who seemed to be "into" their coffee and seemed genuinely interested in trying a local roaster (ie me!). Plenty of my business cards went flying out so time will tell if they bear fruit. Thanks for all the comments and good advice. 

One additional question if anyone has some insights ... how do you keep your milk (frothing) jug clean? Do you have a pitcher-rinser connected up? More than one jug? Or just keep washing it out when you have a "quiet" moment?

Which market were you at? I live pretty close to Egham so might check it out. And could I have a link to your website or something? I'd also like to try a local roaster

Thanks

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Glad it went well for you. I tend to go equipped to these markets with around 5-6 jugs and keep non dairy, hot chocolate and non dairy hot chocolate all marked and separate. The EHO are hot on these things. I have a buddy that washes and rotates things for me and does little bits like adds water to cups for americanos, keeps all the bits and bobs topped up.

It of course depends how busy the market it as to how you work it. I have done ones where I literally did not move away from the machine for 6+ hours and had a queue of 6-8 drinks the whole time. It would not be possible to do that without someone supporting you and doing the odd jobs. I sleep well after those events I can tell you.

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www.blackcatcoffee.co.uk

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Bezzera machines back in stock!

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The pop-up is for the PTA at my wife's school (they're selling mince pies/cup-cakes/cookies etc) and it's one of their big fund raisers. I get a bit of help with bits and pieces but they were stretched as well. A bit different from previous too in the whole covid-secure way of operating. I guess everyone was a little under-prepared for the sheer volume of sales! 

I will plan on having a few more jugs there next week so that they can be washed out on rotation.

Know what you mean about the sleep - 9 3/4 hours for me on Saturday night! 

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11 minutes ago, tsouthwell said:

Which market were you at? I live pretty close to Egham so might check it out. And could I have a link to your website or something? I'd also like to try a local roaster

Thanks

Hi @tsouthwell. The Christmas tree market is in a corner of the Windsor Great Park - entrance is well sign-posted off the A332 between Windsor and Ascot. I'll be there again this weekend.

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  • 4 weeks later...

A fascinating tread. Please keep coming back and post some more; i'm very curious about selling coffee beans at a local market. Selling hot drinks sounds like a challenge and a half, and i'm not equipped to handle the workflow and don't think i'll be anytime soon. All very interesting, nevertheless! 

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  • 2 months later...

I've booked up, covid allowing, 6 markets this year. Certainly a lot to think about. @RDC8 did you take whole beans and grind onsite? I've asked the person in charge about noise. My hope is to get a lot of pre-printed empty labels where I just write on the information as sold. Grind on site direct into bag and seal. Hoping to also take some brewing equipment like V60, AeroPress to sell. How did you find it? Did you take your commercial scales?

Just looking at the required insurance you need to get as well. All adds up.

What did people do about marketing? Did you print banners for the front of the table or just have basic advertising?

Question did you all sell drinks - someone suggested that this wasn't possible without additional health checks? I was thinking about not selling capo's, latte ,etc., but brewing in a V60, Chemex, etc. so that customers can taste the flavour of the coffee? Have asked our local EHO.

Thanks - got 6 weeks and best if I roast the weekend before.

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@Dartmoor Coffee 

I have so far completed two markets; each quite different so will give an overview of each market. Market A was a "typical" producers market in the local town. No power supply; Market B (referred to in the thread above) was to support a school fund-raising activity selling refreshments in a large Christmas Tree market. Power was supplied

14 hours ago, Dartmoor Coffee said:

did you take whole beans and grind onsite?

Market A: I took a range of 250gm bags for the pre-ground. Grind setting as suitable for cafetiere. I also took whole beans weighed (250gm) and sealed in plastic bags. These were inexpensive food-grade clear plastic bags that I buy 100 at a time. When a customer wanted whole bean I popped the entire plastic bag, unopened, into a paper bag.

Market B:I took only whole beans weighed (250gm) and sealed in plastic bags (as above). I was able to grind onsite and then re-seal into "proper" valved bags. A grinder isn't that noisy!

 

14 hours ago, Dartmoor Coffee said:

lot of pre-printed empty labels where I just write on the information as sold

Market A: All bags were pre-labeled for the ground coffee. However, for whole bean I applied labels to the paper bags as needed when sold.

Market B: only took pre-printed labels and wrote details on them as and when needed.

 

14 hours ago, Dartmoor Coffee said:

did you all sell drinks

Market A: didn't sell drinks, but gave away samples an small 3oz cups (pre-covid!!). I brewed coffee onsite using cafetiere. Brought-in the water in 2x5l airpots and then decanted the brewed coffee into 2l vacuum jugs.

Market B; At this market the primary purpose was to sell drinks; no extra health checks asked for (but good basic hygiene practices being followed). Your market organisers may need to see that you have completed a food hygiene course.

Hopefully you will have help on the stall; it is almost impossible to brew drinks, engage with customers, handle the money exchange etc just by yourself. Without the drinks side, one person should be able to manage.

14 hours ago, Dartmoor Coffee said:

Did you print banners for the front of the table or just have basic advertising?

Just some basic advertising on the table at both markets. However, I plan on getting a vinyl banner for future markets to hang across the gazebo to make the stand more visible. Some traders at Market A used the roll-up banners and struggled with them when the wind came up.

14 hours ago, Dartmoor Coffee said:

best if I roast the weekend before.

Yes - that is what I did. Although you will probably end up needing to explain that the coffee is still fresh and may even need a further 5 days to rest before using!

 

14 hours ago, Dartmoor Coffee said:

Have asked our local EHO

This is sensible :)

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Hi @RDC8, Many thanks for your thoughts and detailed explanation. Very kind of you.

Thankfully all my markets are inside so no wind problems. I'm looking at getting a sumup card payment (wifi only) - not sure 3G is worth it. All markets will have electric, wifi and stand.

Think I will pre-roast a week before and take down whole beans. I am planning at getting basic labels produced by a professional company and then write on the coffee, weight and other bits as orders come in. If I am going to sell drinks then will have to consider also pre-grinding some beans for making drinks, and also buy in recyclable cups.

May I ask about quantities of coffee you took. I was thinking of taken some roasted coffee of all my beans (5 types), but don't know how much of each I should take - 2 / 3kg so giving a total of 10 to 15 kgs? Might have a lot left over? Guess if I do 3 roasts of each coffee so giving about 2.2 to 2.4 kg of each.

Will look into banners.

Thanks

Phil.

 

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