How To Start A 7-Figure Coffee Business

Are you dreaming of starting your own coffee shop business but don’t know where to begin? Look no further than the expert advice of David Schomer, the founder of Espresso Vivace. In this interview with UpFlip, he shares his valuable insights and experience on successfully launching and scaling a coffee business.

From equipment recommendations to finding the ideal location, David delves into the details of opening a coffee shop and achieving growth potential. As the pioneer of introducing latte art to the United States, David’s expertise in the industry is unparalleled.

He emphasizes the importance of quality, training baristas, and creating an exceptional customer experience. Whether you’re starting a coffee cart or aiming to build a 7-figure business, this interview provides valuable guidance for coffee enthusiasts and aspiring entrepreneurs alike.

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Espresso Vivace: A Symphony of Coffee


Espresso Vivace is a Seattle-based coffee shop that has become a legend in the coffee world. With a focus on quality, artistry, and innovation, Espresso Vivace has carved a niche for itself in the coffee industry. In this article, we’ll explore the secrets behind their success, the unique approach to roasting, the importance of location, and the future plans of the company.

The Art of Coffee Making

David, the owner of Espresso Vivace, emphasizes the importance of professionalism in every aspect of the business. From clean signage to the meticulous process of roasting, everything is done with precision and care.

Signage and Branding

David believes in maintaining a pristine and attractive business sign. He spent around $500 to $1000 on the sign, working with a branding team to develop the logo. He emphasizes that the sign should never be dirty, reflecting the overall cleanliness and professionalism of the business.

The Roasting Process

The roasting process at Espresso Vivace is a unique blend of art and science. David started roasting in 1991 to control the flavors more and reduce costs. He emphasizes the importance of roasting in-house, as buying coffee from others can make it difficult to succeed in the coffee shop business.

David recommends starting with a small roaster in the store for authenticity and excitement. However, as the business grows, a separate space for roasting becomes necessary due to the noise, dust, and space requirements.

Equipment and Technology

Espresso Vivace uses top-of-the-line equipment to ensure the best coffee experience. Some highlights include:

  • Espresso Machine: They use the Nuova Simonelli T3, which costs between $18,000 and $22,000. It offers stable temperature control, which is vital for gourmet espresso.
  • Grinders: The Niche Zero grinders, costing around $650, are used for their quality and performance.
  • Refrigerators: Beverage-Air refrigerators are used, costing around $600 or $700.

Location and Competition

David stresses the importance of an urban location for a quality-focused coffee shop. He advises against opening in small towns or relying on drive-throughs, emphasizing that an indoor store in a dense urban area is essential.

Employee Training and Retention

Espresso Vivace pays its employees $16.79 per hour, as set by the state of Washington. Training is a continuous process, starting with hands-on experience on the espresso machine. Regular training sessions are conducted even for long-term employees.

Retaining employees is achieved by providing a fascinating job, treating them well, and maintaining regular schedules and processes.

Supply Chain and Pricing

Espresso Vivace stays ahead in supplies, especially green coffee, to deal with disruptions. They work with regional brokers and sample roast crops from around the world to choose the best beans.

Despite rising costs, they have never seen a decrease in customer volume or appreciation due to justified price increases.

Future Plans

David’s plans for the next 5 to 10 years include selling whole bean coffee all over the United States. He also wants to continue focusing on the quality and artistry of coffee, making Espresso Vivace a global name.


Espresso Vivace stands as a testament to the power of dedication, innovation, and quality. From the unique Northern Italian roast to the focus on urban locations and continuous employee training, every aspect of the business is carefully crafted.

David’s passion for coffee and his commitment to excellence have made Espresso Vivace a beloved brand in Seattle and beyond. His insights and experiences offer valuable lessons for anyone looking to succeed in the coffee industry or any business that prioritizes quality and artistry.


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