Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Free business idea – serious coffee in Las Vegas

Posted by shannonclark on July 20, 2010

I was in Las Vegas last week for my friend Tara Hunt‘s birthday, a bunch of her friends from all over the world gathered in Las Vegas for a few days of celebration. The full tales of the revels are the subject for another post (and for someone else to write, alas a bout of allergies meant I missed the Karaoke at 2am in a Vegas suite).

But while I was in Vegas, staying at the Mandalay Bay, I found myself curiously surprised by the lack of good coffee anywhere along the strip. I was told about The Beat Coffeehouse in downtown Las Vegas but didn’t manage to make it there. Apparently they are a true Third Wave coffeehouse, they roast their own beans and take their coffee very seriously.

However within the major casinos along the strip the coffee of choice appears to be Starbucks and even the coffee served at the high end restaurants which I was fortunate enough to try wasn’t very good by San Francisco standards. The Mandalay Bay in particular is already the home of some of the most famous and best chefs from San Francisco (MIchael Mina, Herbert Keller etc).

So here is my, freely offered, business idea.

Open up a Las Vegas branch of a serious, third wave coffee roaster. From San Francisco I’d suggest Blue Bottle, but Ritual Roasters, Four Barrel, Sightglass or from around the bay Mr. Espresso, Verve, or Barefoot Coffee Roasters would all be great options. Intelligentsia from Chicago & LA or Stumptown from Portland (and now NYC) would be other great choices.

What I would envision would be with some Las Vegas style & flair. The main location would include an onsite roaster and serious baristas and one cup at a time brewing. But given that this is Las Vegas I’d also imagine letting the Baristas have free reign to create adult coffee based beverages (i.e. in many cases with alcohol) and I would imagine that this space would be open 24hrs a day and ideally should have wifi and in the case of the Mandalay Bay have some business services available (private meeting rooms perhaps?). I’d also suggest that the roaster then provide coffee (and perhaps barista services/training) to the restaurants in that hotel as well as open up some kiosks to serve coffee at peak times (which in Vegas might be starting early and ending fairly late).

Done well this location might then be a natural location to host barista competitions and for serious coffee cuppings and for guest baristas to show off what they can create.

It would certainly also improve my next Las Vegas trip (since I don’t do much gambling or drinking, Vegas isn’t exactly my first choice though the shows & food are good).

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