Career change? These skills help you become a coffee shop owner

We meet Coffeepreneurs® with all kinds of backgrounds. Very few, it turns out, have spent their entire careers in specialty coffee. We’ve worked with teachers, nurses, veterans, artists, attorneys, and more to help them launch a new career aligned to their passions, goals, and unique talents. No matter your background, you’ve likely acquired skills along the way that will transfer to your career as an entrepreneur and coffee shop owner. (We can fill in the rest of the skills you need in our 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class.) Here are some common careers from our former students, and the skills that they’ve leveraged on their path to opening a coffee shop.

Our featured image is from our former student, The Hive Java Lounge

How our students have used their former career skills as a launchpad to becoming a coffee shop owner 


 Transferable Skills: 

  • Employee training
  • Implementing systems and processes 
  • Building community

Many of the students who come through our doors are former educators. As educators ourselves, we understand the amount of planning, revision, energy, and attention that teachers pour into their lesson plans. (Can you imagine the level of detail in a teacher’s business plan?) But it’s not just the lessons that make teachers great; it’s the way they foster a sense of trust, engagement, and community within their classrooms. 

As coffee shop owners, former teachers have a knack for building an entire culture within their businesses. They have the potential to build well-functioning teams, attract loyal customers, and make a coffee shop feel like a place of belonging. And, it would be hard to find a more creative, resourceful, or organized business owner. 

Teacher helping student in classroom


Transferable skills: 

  • Resilience
  • Leadership and team building
  • Commitment to quality and attention to detail

We’ve been honored to help many U.S. military veterans become entrepreneurs. In fact, we’ve written an entire article on why veterans make successful coffee shop owners here. In it, you’ll find that their strong sense of purpose, commitment to serving, and resilience through roadblocks all serve them well as they open and run a coffee shop. Plus so many veterans have such a strong passion for coffee due to how embedded coffee is in military culture!    

When asked how the military impacted him as an entrepreneur, Evan Hafer, founder of Black Rifle Coffee, responded: 

“Military service taught me several important lessons that have reverberated through Black Rifle Coffee; nothing is impossible, you can’t win if you don’t try and every second of your life there is an opportunity to succeed.”

Real Estate Development: 

Transferable Skills: 

  • Managing buildout and contractors
  • Choosing the right location
  • Scaling from one coffee shop to multiple

Choose a location, negotiate a lease, hire contractors, build out a beautiful and well-functioning coffee shop… unless you’re purchasing an existing coffee shop, many of these steps are brand new to first-time entrepreneurs. Of course, if you have a background in real estate development, your experience can bring you a great deal of confidence along the way.

Real estate developers are also skilled in negotiation and project management. They understand the strategy behind choosing a location not just because of the aesthetics, but because of the local demographics, traffic patterns, nearby businesses, and access. Often, they have contacts within their own network to help the design and build out process move along more quickly and easily. Finally, developers are comfortable with putting a little skin in the game up front because they understand the long-term reward.


Transferable skills: 

  • Diagnosis and problem solving
  • Efficiency
  • Meticulous attention to quality and care

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers may wonder how a career in medicine translates to one in coffee. But in the last few years, we’ve had many healthcare professionals sit at our tables to pursue their dreams of becoming a coffee shop owner. 

Of course, anyone who’s made it through to the other side of medical training and education will be able to learn their way around an espresso machine. What’s more important, however, is that healthcare providers have learned within their practice. They are decisive and efficient when it comes to taking in information, analyzing it, and deciphering a best way forward. As entrepreneurs, this type of problem solving and decision making keeps a business moving forward, even under high pressure circumstances. 

Finance and Technology

Transferable Skills: 

  • Long-term vision
  • Quick adoption of cutting edge technology
  • Data tracking and analysis

We’re aging ourselves here, but for many years a majority of our students dreamed of leaving their cubicles. (Hello there, remote work.) Worn down by the corporate world, these aspiring coffee shop owners dreamed of the opportunity to be the visionary–of building something to give them purpose and bring people together. 

Many of our students with corporate backgrounds come from industries like finance and technology. If this is you, you know your way around a spreadsheet. (Our five-year financial projection template is going to be your favorite part of the class.) You’ll also understand how to set small goals on your way to a larger objective, collaborate with many stakeholders at once, and track your progress. These are all valuable skills for entrepreneurs who have to juggle contractors, budgets, inventory, and teams. 

Sales and Hospitality

Transferable Skills: 

  • Communication and Marketing
  • Charm
  • Customer Experience

Sales and hospitality is a broad category. At Texas Coffee School, we’ve worked with aspiring coffee shop owners with backgrounds in food and beverage service, baristas, corporate sales people, and everything in between. Despite the wide range of experiences in this group, people with a background in sales and hospitality have one major trait in common: people skills. For coffee shop owners, this can become a powerful asset. 

It’s obvious that coffee shop owners need to understand how to bring customers through the door. Of course, this skill can manifest at many different touch points for the customer: the branding and marketing, the coffee shop’s interior and exterior design, the interaction with the barista, and the overall experience of ordering, paying, and drinking their coffee. Those who have spent time carefully considering how to make a customer or client feel valued have a leg up when it comes to building a business people will love. 

business strategies for coffee shops

Start your career as a coffee shop owner at Texas Coffee School

A career change is a big decision, and one we don’t take lightly. We have ushered hundreds of students with diverse backgrounds into entrepreneurship at Texas Coffee School. Graduates of our 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class leave the class with a no-bull understanding of entrepreneurship. Plus, we make sure to equip them with all of the tools and resources they’ll need to become successful coffee shop owners. Interested in learning more? Read about the class here and check out upcoming dates.

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We’ve helped hundreds of students successfully launch their own coffee shop businesses. Join us in our 5-Star Rated Coffee Classes, whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to open a coffee shop, a manager, a barista or home enthusiast looking to sharpen your skills.