Challenges facing Independent Coffee Shops.
Coffee shops in Australia face many challenges. The first is the constant threat of chain stores, which are opening at a rapid rate. Large coffee chains like Starbucks, Coffee Club and the inclusion of McDonalds into the coffee space – are taking business away from independent shops. This has led to some independent shops closing their doors or going out of business entirely.
The second challenge facing Australian coffee shops is the rising cost of rent, especially in major cities and regions like the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Maximising your existing Coffee Shop business
There is however a way to maximise your business to take full benefit of the rent you are already paying under your lease arrangement. Why waste revenue generating hours when you can make an addition to your business that won’t impact on your current coffee shop business with minimal capital outlay! You can also leverage your existing customer base, signage and shop fit out to help in this endeavour!
What are kava bars and can they change the independent coffee shop business model.
Kava Bars or Nakamals as they are called in Vanuatu are a social hub that a vast portion of the population go to in the afternoon. Enjoying a few shells of kava and chatting with friends after work is like going to the pub, just without the alcohol.
A savvy US entrepreneur visited Vanuatu in the late 90’s and realised the benefits of kava bars could be applied to America. He established the first kava bar in Boca Raton, Florida in 2001. Jump to 2023 and there are now over 300 kava bars in the USA. The unique blend of kava’s relaxing properties coupled with a move away from alcohol means they have become massively popular, both with Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X in the USA.
The advantage of kava bars from an independent coffee shop standpoint is the opening hours. Kava Bars in the Pacific and the US open at around 3.00 pm. This is when most coffee shops have closed or are in the process of closing. With limited change to both your inventory, infrastructure, and your cabinet food selection, you can convert your current coffee shop to a kava bar!
What you need to convert your coffee shop into a kava bar.
Space and Signage
Since existing coffee shops have the space and seating in place, as well as your décor, the hard part is over. You might want to change up your signage to advise your coffee shop clients and passers-by of your extended operation.
Initial discussion with the Gold Coast City Council suggests that if you are not serving alcohol, there is no need to change up your current licensing. Kava Bars that have opened in both Logan City Council, Brisbane City Council and the ACT are already operating under standard food licenses.
Below is a list of equipment normally used in a small to mid-size kava bar in the USA. All the below equipment Australia Kava Shop can either supply or advise upon.
✔️3 or 4 food grade 40 litre buckets
✔️ Nylon Kava Strainers Supplied by Australia Kava Shop
✔️ Noble Vanuatu and Fiji Kava Powder imported into Australia under license by Australia Kava Shop
✔️ Kava Cups, Glasses, or Coconut Shells – in most cases you can use your existing glassware.
✔️ Food Blender
✔️ Kava Washing Machine (optional)
✔️ Cooler (to store prepared kava)
✔️ Ladles (to serve your kava from the buckets in the cooler)
✔️ Ice wands (optional: to quick chill your kava for immediate service)
✔️ New Kava Bar Menu – we work with you to determine the best range and options to offer your customers.
Australian Kava Bar success stories
Elixir Music House previously used their upstairs area for occasional corporate events. They decided to take a leap of faith and start a kava bar there to maintain steady income. It started with Fridays but expanded to Fridays-Sundays and has been successful. The bar promotes a community feel and serves kava blends from Vanuatu and Fiji. Customers can enjoy fresh fruit juice and sliced tropical fruits to complement their kava.
Australia Kava Shop work with you to show you and your team, how to prepare kava in cost effective means to maximise your returns. We have built relationships with many US kava bars over the past 15 years and as per the above video are adapt at all styles of preparing kava juice. Read more about our history in the kava space HERE.
Food and Drinks
Kava is an appetite suppressant. However, this does not mean that people don’t want to eat or have something to clear their palette with after drinking kava. Most kava bars in the US offer the following food items:
Sliced Fruit Skewers -These are very popular and often a wedge of pineapple is served with a shell of kava.
Premade Sandwich/Rolls – These are likely already made already by your coffee shop business, so you can essentially just sell what is left over to start with and then factor in additional requirements once you understand your kava customer requirements.
Chicken Wings – OK this one is unique to the US, but the greasy component of wings goes well with the effect of kava – certainly not a deal breaker though.
Tea – Tea is a fantastic fit for kava. Its not uncommon for Pacific islanders to drink tea after kava to both relax and accentuate the effects of kava. Again, super simple as you likely already stock a tea range at your coffee Shop.
Small kava bars in the USA operate with only 2 staff members at the most. Kava can be prepared in your leadup to closing the coffee shop arm of your business. With the advent of the kava washing machine and a host of other quick preparation methods, kava can be prepared and stored quickly both in ready and on demand.
How do I start?
The team at Australia Kava Shop are keen to hear from you. If you haven’t tried kava before, we can bring some prepared kava juice to your location and sit down and discuss the idea with you over a few shells. We have over 15 years’ experience in the kava industry and are knowledgeable about all aspects of the business. To get an understanding of who we are, please click HERE or contact us on the below information:
Owner – Australia kava Shop.
Phone: 0406 594 829