This is a non-scientific study.
Today we had a rather well attended retirement party for a long time co-worker. There was a potluck. I brought cappuccinos. How do you bring cappuccinos to a potluck?
1. You bring one gallon of organic whole milk.
2. You bring roughly a pound of finely ground organic fair trade Bolivian coffee.
3. You bring a little workhorse of an espresso machine, a Mr. Coffee pump espresso machine with a steamer that all works way better than it has any right to.
One and two I had to buy. Number three I keep all the time in the Library break room anyway, and use often.
The party starts. You make cappuccinos. Lots and lots of cappuccinos. In about an hour and a half I made 23 cappuccinos. Making this many cappuccinos led to more than a few jokes about opening up my own cafe. This made me say "Hey! Yeah!" and caused me to do the math. Twenty-three cappuccinos at $3.50 a cappuccino is $80.50. Two hours labor (counting half an hour added for clean up), no rent, no employees, about $15 for ingredients and I came out to about $33 an hour. Okay, so not huge, but as long as I had no rent or equipment costs I think I could get by. Of course the drinks would have to be free for that kind of sales volume around here, but, theoretically, if I operated out of the break room, applied for a State Coffee Board grant, worked 16 hour days, and begged at high traffic stoplights in my spare time, I could, with some small bags of unusual, locally sourced potato chips sold at a 400 percent mark up in massive volumes, make it all work. But it might be challenging. Which is why I have developed today a new sympathy for my local independent cafe owners. I think I'll also tip more.