Do I Need a License to Sell Coffee Online?

Do you wish to start an online coffee business? The first thing that you need to get started is the license to sell coffee online. 

Getting a license to sell coffee online will protect you against litigation and conflicts with local government regulations. It’ll also ensure your compliance with tax guidelines.

Read this blog to understand how to sell coffee online and establish a thriving coffee business. 

Do I Need a License to Sell Coffee Online?

Selling coffee online is just like selling any other product online. It’s a business, and it goes without saying that you need a license to be able to do so without falling into non-compliance with the government. 

The type of license you need depends on the nature of the business you’re planning to set up and your country and state. Requirements for business licenses vary from state to state and also with the size of operations. 

Working with a Supplier

The simplest operational flow for an online coffee business is to work directly with a supplier. You’ll be responsible for marketing your business and generating sales.

You’ll forward the order details to the supplier, who’ll ship products directly to the customers. This business model is called dropshipping. You’ll only need a business license from the FDA to operate as a business in the U.S.

A business license will establish you as a business in the U.S., which is more like a permit to do business. 

Working Independently

You’ll need more than just a business license if you plan to work independently from home or in a small workshop. 

If you plan to roast the coffee yourself at home or at your workshop before delivering it to the customers, or to store coffee before dispatching it, you’ll need a couple more licenses. 

The licenses you need to sell coffee online when you’re operating from home depend on the state that you’re in. 

For example, if you’re in California, your business will fall under the Cottage Food Laws, and you will need a Cottage Food Operation (CFO) License. 

A CFO Class A license permits you to sell directly to the consumer from your home. A CFO Class B license is when you plan to sell coffee to another business.

Some states also require you to have a home-based business license. While most states and countries don’t treat home-based businesses any differently than regular businesses, some states do require you to get special permits.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to starting a business to sell coffee online. You’ll need all the right licenses according to your state requirements. 

Check your state requirements and laws before you take the plunge to save yourself from any troubles with the authorities in the future when your business starts to pick pace. 

How to Sell Coffee Online?

If you’re taking your first steps towards establishing an online business for selling coffee, you may think that getting a license is all you need. 

While precisely getting a license does mean that you’ve got the permit to operate as an online business to sell coffee, it takes a lot more than just a license to kickstart any business. 

Let’s see what it takes to establish yourself as an online coffee seller. 

Get a License

The first thing you need to do when starting a business as an online coffee seller is to get the right licenses, depending on your state and the nature of your business. 

Securing a license is a long and complicated process. You’ll need to provide extensive documentation before you finally get the license to start selling coffee online.

Depending on your state, you may need more than just the business license from the FDA. 

Decide Which Coffee Type You Want to Sell

You may have a vague business idea in your mind about selling coffee online. You should know that the market is huge and the competition is massive. You’ll need to be very particular about what coffee you wish to sell. 

You’ll have to decide if you want to deal in luxury or budget coffee and whether you want to sell light-roasted or dark coffee.

Coffee products are diverse. You’ve got to have clarity about which coffee products you wish to sell. Most importantly, you should know what your target market is.

Once you’ve got this clarity, you can establish your coffee business better. 

Decide Who You Want to Sell to

You can sell coffee directly to consumers or to businesses like restaurants and cafes. You can’t just start without deciding this. 

It’s because the type of license you’ll need to sell coffee online will be different for each type of target market. 

For example, if you wish to sell directly to consumers in California, you’ll need a CFO Class A license. If you wish to sell to businesses, you’ll need a CFO Class B license.

Find a Supplier

You’ll have to do a lot of research to find a reliable supplier who deals in the type of coffee products you wish to sell. 

You can either work with a supplier who has ready-to-ship roasted beans or you can find one who can send you green beans that you can roast at home. 

Finding a supplier isn’t as easy as you may think it is. You’ll have to be absolutely sure that the supplier is credible and has all the relevant permits and licenses to operate as a coffee supplier.

Create an Attractive and Functional Online Store

Creating an online store is a prerequisite to selling coffee online. You can’t deal with every customer query and order one-on-one. You’ll need a streamlined store where the customers can place orders directly. 

Your online store should look professional and should be easy to navigate. The color palette of your website should be in sync with your logo. 

It’s all a part of branding. How you brand your business will significantly influence how consumers perceive your business.

All your products should be listed in a presentable fashion. There should be multiple pictures of your product from every angle. 

The product description should be detailed to give the customers an idea of your product. Since you’ll be selling online, customers won’t be able to check the product physically. The description is all they have. 

Apart from high-quality product images and detailed product descriptions, your product pricing should be crisp and clear too. The customers should know what they’ll get for the price they pay. 

Your online store should be such that the customers don’t need a one-on-one conversation with you. 

In case they do, customer service options should also be available on your online store. 

Start Selling

Once you’ve got the license to sell coffee online and have everything sorted, you can start selling coffee online.

What Happens If You Start Selling Coffee Online without a License?

A business license is an official permit from the government for a business owner to start and run a business. 

You may think that it’s just an online business and you don’t need a license, but you do, even if your business doesn’t have a physical presence. 

If you start selling coffee online without getting a license first, the authorities can fine you or even put your business on hold. 

Putting a hold on a business means you won’t be able to continue selling coffee online until you get the required permits and licenses. 

This is why getting a license to sell coffee online is the first thing you need to do when starting an online coffee business. 

Getting a license is an exhausting task. It’s even more tedious if you need multiple licenses or permits to operate a business. But all the efforts that go into securing a license are worth it.

The hassle and inconvenience of getting a license are nothing compared to the penalties of being caught running a business without a license. Not to mention the stain on your reputation.

Another aspect that new business owners often overlook is the possibility of lawsuits. 

If your customer isn’t happy with the quality of the product you delivered and you’re operating without a license, you may be charged with fraud in small claims court. 

To put it in simplest terms, running a business, even if it’s selling coffee online without a license, is a fraudulent activity

Closing Word

To put it all in a nutshell – yes, you need a license to sell coffee online. Just because you’re an online business doesn’t mean you don’t have to comply with the law. 

A license is an official government permit that allows you to sell coffee online. The type and number of licenses you need depend on the state you live in and the nature of your business.

So, if the idea of taking your love for coffee to the next level has been in your mind and you wish to start a business, start by checking with the authorities which license you’ll need.

Getting a license should be your starting point!

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