I served my first farmer's market on 1/6. There is a random little restaurant in the middle of our neighborhoods that hosts this market on the first Saturday of every month. It was a bit of a mixed experience.
I had walked through the market in December and it was very promising. There were lots of vendors and lots of people. January was a little different. About half the vendors showed up. From what I could gather, a few were out sick with this stupid flu that is terrorizing the nation. The others just...didn't show up. I overheard a few people loosing their spots for not notifying the market manager of their absence. I took note that this was kind of clique. Real estate was based on favor, not anything else. The entry is just a flat fee, so the market doesn't really benefit from sales.
The foot traffic was a bit sparse as well. It seems the market depends on people eating at the restaurant then walking the market. That doesn't favor a coffee vendor, as most of them had their coffee with the meal and not interested in even hearing about coffee. The market also draws traffic from being a spectacle. If there are a lot of tents and a lot of people walking around, other people will stop to see. It's the garage sale mentality, the more you have to sell, the more people will come.
I did sell a few cups of coffee. One of the biggest challenges is my water. It seemed as soon as turned my heat off so I didn't boil away all my water, someone would walk up and they'd have to wait 5 minutes for my water to boil. I would do better if there were more people. I also learned that people don't consider food safety in small settings. I had one lady reach over and grab my agitation spoon, put it in the sugar, stir her cup, drink it, put it back in the sugar, stir it then put it back on my towel. I was kind of stunned and since I wasn't selling much I didn't say anything. I'm going to take some steps to reduce people's ability to reach next time.
One of the biggest things that hit me was the need to taste when I roast. The lady who reached also stood there and tasted with me. She said it had a green flavor and that surprised me. After she left, I brewed myself a cup and she was right. It was faint, but there. I should be pulling samples from each batch to ensure I'm hitting the flavor point my profile is set for. I can't just assume that the roast cycle will produce the same product every time. I'm still very small and weather conditions have a huge impact on my roasters.
Overall, it was a good experience. I will learn a little more each time and hopefully really start to build relationships within my community.