Open your own Smug coffee shop: Silver Lake model

Smug Scout feels sorry for you if you do not live near a Smug epicenter that has a Smug coffee shop. Perhaps you live in a flyover state. Perhaps you live somewhere that only has soulless and charmless chains like Starbucks. Perhaps you do not care about overpriced coffee, but you are interested in a profitable business model. Whatever the case, Smug Scout will help you open your own Smug coffee shop.  Smug Scout does have one warning before she starts to share her vast expertise: she is not a businesswoman and really has no idea how anyone would actually open a Smug coffee shop or even how profitable it is. She does not know, for example, if residents of flyover states would like to pay extortionate prices for superior single-source coffee. Smug Scout does know that there are people out there who pay under $5 for a single cup of coffee, but she does not know exactly where, how, or why. Still, she is a Smug Scout, not a bargain or budget or cut-rate scout.  And when she recently visited Intelligentsia in Silver Lake, she learned some lessons she will happily pass along to you.

Lesson 1: You do not need to spend much money on interior design as long as you have some Smug arts and crafts friends who can do a little tile work. A small, high visibility area of beauty in the front, for example under your Rolls Royce espresso machine, will compensate for the fact that the rest of the place looks like a makeshift 70s rec room. Note: make sure that the plywood planks that line the walls are reclaimed. Tip: go to your local ghetto or low-income neighborhood and “reclaim” the wood from a house that bears a sign advertising reclaimed wood.  The sign will read “foreclosed” or “bank owned.” That way, your Smug coffee shop will have authentic rundown touches that fit with your bunker style dangling bare light bulbs.

Lesson 2: While you can skimp on decorating costs, you  do need a La Marzocca Strada Mechanical Paddle Commercial Espresso Machine so that your Smug customers will know you have the utmost control of the extraction rate of their single-source Ethiopian coffee. This is the most expensive thing you will buy for your Smug coffee shop, and it will cost you $15,000 because it is made by unionized Italian craftspeople in a workshop (you will not call it a factory) near Florence.
Lesson 3Okay, now that you are feeling shellshocked about the purchase of your Strada Mechanical Paddle, you can relax because you will not have to spend any money on uniforms for your staff.  You will only be hiring hipsters to work there, so just make sure they understand they have to maintain Grizzly Adams beards and wear hats and plaid shirts every day. Do not expect women to have facial hair; do not hire any who do. Unlike the men, the women need to be pretty, wear clean clothes, and appear to look in a mirror from time to time.

Lesson 4:  Because this is a Smug coffee shop and you will have Smug regular customers, you need to have a menu, printed on obviously recycled paper, that changes every day or at least seems to because you have a date on it. You will probably have the same coffee all the time, but if the third world region where your single-source coffee comes from begins a civil war that leaves the purebred coffee plantations in ruins, you will need to find a less war-torn banana republic to source from.  It does not matter; Smug customers will insist on Sub-Saharan African and Central American single-origin coffee, but which specific country is of no consequence. They do not know where those countries are and do not plan to visit them. It is much more important that you use reclaimed plywood clipboards to display your menus.

Lesson 5:  Try to think up other Smug touches so that you do not look crassly commercial. Of course you want to sell a lot of preciously priced coffee beans, faux-handcrafted architectural coffee cups, espresso machines vastly inferior to your Strada Mechanical Paddle, and branded t-shirts made by American Apparel, but it is bad if every object you place is for sale. You need at least one object that is not for sale. You may want to consider an antique steel test tube holder. Tip: do not get test tubes for it. That is the domain of those pretentious, now passé “molecular” restaurants. Get clear glass bottles instead, pour some filtered water in there, and get some local backyard flowers no one will know the name of. Native grasses with blossoms, which you previously knew as weeds, will be perfect. 

Lesson 6: You will have no problem attracting Smug customers as long as you have one rule and one rule only: all customers must bring a MacBook Pro. Post this rule if you wish.  You will get even more customers if you align your Smug coffee shop with Smug Apple products.

Smug Scout is finished teaching for today. However, she will go back to Intelligentsia soon to refresh her knowledge. She loves everything about that place!