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Tailored Coffee Used LivePlan to Take an Idea from Passion Project to Successful Business

LivePlan customer, Brian Sung, loves his daily cup of joe more than your average Joe. And in his case, mixing business with pleasure has worked out very well.

Tailored Coffee Roasters, which Brian opened in Eugene, Oregon in April, is a coffee roasting business that focuses on taking the best beans and giving them a Scandinavian-style treatment that brings out their light, flavorful notes. “I want to serve people what I like to drink: sweet, juicy, high-quality coffee,” he says.

This busy entrepreneur was already running Brails Espresso, a spin-off from popular Eugene restaurant Brails, when he decided to opened Tailored. He was grateful he chose LivePlan to help him put together a business plan for his new venture because the software made it so quick and easy. “Trying to open a new business is very time-consuming, and since I was running another business while I was trying to set up Tailored, I didn't have a lot of time.”

While Brian didn't discover coffee until later in life, he got an early introduction to the food service industry. His family owns Brails, an American-style diner in Eugene's uptown district that's been a popular breakfast and lunch eatery since the 1940s. Brian worked in the restaurant while he attended the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business and ended up quitting during his junior year to take on a management position.

Brian started roasting his own beans in his spare time and quickly realized it could be more than just a hobby.

Customers seeking a place to recover from a rough night (Brails was given the title “Best Hangover Breakfast” by a local newspaper several years in a row) and the best hash browns in town frequently requested lattes and other espresso drinks, something the ‘50s-style diner wasn't equipped to provide. Rather than just buying an espresso machine, Brian and his mom decided to open a full-on espresso shop in their parking lot. That way they could serve their sit-down customers as well as people who just wanted a quick cuppa. Brails Espresso opened in February 2012.

The experience got Brian interested in coffee, to the point where he now describes himself as a coffee connoisseur/geek. He started roasting his own beans in his spare time and quickly realized it could be more than just a hobby. “The bottom line is that your business does a lot better when you roast your own coffee,” he says.

Tailored Coffee
Tailored coffee serves standard coffee and espresso drinks as well as some unusual concoctions Brian has dreamed up.

Brian had a vision for a roasting business co-located with a café where customers could watch their coffee being roasted and then enjoy it in their favorite drinks. He also wanted to give people in Eugene, a community known for excellent small-batch coffee roasters, something they couldn't get other places: beans that were treated to a very light roast, not the dark roast most Americans are used to.

“A lighter roast shows off the characteristics of the beans rather than masking them,” he says. “You get a lot of different tasting notes with higher quality beans. It's comparable to getting really good grass-fed steaks. You don't want to cook them well done. You want to just let the ingredients speak for themselves.”

“Trying to open a new business is very time-consuming, and since I was running another business while I was trying to set up Tailored, I didn't have a lot of time.”

Brails Espresso, which Brian was running full-time, was too small to hold all the coffee roasting equipment. He decided his best bet was to open a brand-new storefront. Whenever he could spare a moment away from Brails, he scouted locations, researched roasting equipment, and thought about how he could differentiate himself from the copious other coffee shops in town.

Brian knew he needed a business plan, especially since he planned to request a small business loan from a local bank. A friend recommended Live Plan, and Brian was grateful for the advice. “LivePlan saved me a lot of time because the software does so much of the work for you. All you have to do is answer questions and plug in numbers.”

LivePlan helped Brian price out the cost of purchasing the roasting equipment, remodeling the coffee shop, and paying for all the other expenses that would go into opening Tailored Coffee. He had some money to invest, and a bank came through with a loan to cover the rest.

Or so he thought. As is so often the case, remodeling costs ran over, so Brian started a Kickstarter campaign to cover the rest of his expenses. Not only did it put him back on solid financial footing, it turned out to be a great marketing opportunity. “It was a good way to advertise and let people know we were opening,” he says.

Tailored Coffee
A selection of Tailored Coffee’s products now sold both in the shop and wholesale to businesses in Oregon.

Just as Brian hoped, patrons seeking a good cup of coffee are fascinated by the roasting equipment behind the counter. Baristas answer their questions between plating pastries and pulling shots of espresso. Tailored serves standard coffee and espresso drinks as well as some unusual concoctions Brian has dreamed up. Over the summer, one of their most popular drinks was the Café Tonic, which combined a shot of iced espresso with Fever-Tree tonic water flavored with orange zest. “The fruit aspects in the coffee are highlighted by the tonic water,” Brian says. “Its like a grown-up coffee soda.”

In addition to the roasting business and the café, Brian is retailing Tailored Coffee in the shop and wholesaling to different businesses around town (including Brails, which serves Tailored Coffee exclusively). His goal is to eventually expand the wholesale market throughout Oregon and beyond. The wholesale business is new to him, and he says he still has plenty to learn about managing those big accounts. Everything else is coming pretty easy.

“I'm taking a lot of what I learned from my parents and using it at this business,” Brian says. “One of the best lessons I learned from my mom is that you always want to give good service. Sometimes the product you give out won't be the best, but you have to let people enjoy themselves while they're at your business. You should never mess that up.”

Brian is still running both Tailored Coffee Roasters and Brails Espresso, but the roasting business has a special place in his heart. “It takes a lot of time and effort to get the right roasting profile. But it's very rewarding once you find it. It's a great feeling when you make something for someone and they appreciate everything you've done.”


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