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How to open your first coffee shop

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Coffee is a well-loved drink, becoming more popular as the days go by. Coffee culture, however, isn’t only about the drink – it is also how you source your coffee beans, how the coffee is made, the coffee shop, and whether it caters to a whole variety of people.

Opening your first coffee shop is an exciting business venture, and if done properly, can be incredibly profitable. How should you go about opening one, though?

Write up a business plan

As with every business, you need a plan in place that considers how your business will fit into the industry (e.g., are you offering a whole new experience?), your competitors, and sales and marketing methods. Standard business plan requirements include account information and financial forecasts.

Do your market research

Your coffee shop needs an edge. This can be found through market research as it’ll highlight what people want from their coffee shops and whether there is room in the industry for you to cause a difference and have a unique selling point.

Without market research, the coffee industry is taking a sustainable turn of events. More coffee drinkers are looking to invest in coffee shops that ethically source their beans, recycle their cups, and offer milk alternatives. The coffee industry is heavily connected to the conscious consumerism movement, so be sure to join in, as more people are becoming enticed by the independent coffee shop rather than the big name brands.

Concept and branding

What type of coffee house do you want to be? Do you want an overarching ethos such as being eco-friendly or charitable? Or, do you want to offer a quirky vibe, appeal to students or workers, or have a renowned and recognized bean or drink on offer? Answering these questions and coming to a conclusion will help with your brand, which will, in turn, help create an image for your coffee shop.

As part of the design process, you will want to consider your coffee shop’s floor plan. There are many floor planning software to use, such as CADPro, or if you are unsure on how best to layout your shop, hire a professional. When deciding on the layout, remember that you will have customer-facing areas such as where people will pay or wait for their drinks, a sit-down area, and if you want to appeal to workers, a designated workspace.

Your floor plan will decide how many tables and chairs you need, where the coffee machine is placed, as well as where customers will place their orders. However, it should also reflect decorations, social areas, and how your workers will interact with your customers. You want to avoid queues and pileups that stop easy movement around your coffee shop.


A lot of equipment is needed for a coffee shop. Essentials include:

  • Coffee makers – espresso machines, cold brew, cafetieres, and drips.
  • Cooking devices – toasters, panini presses, ovens.
  • Storage – fridge, shelving/cupboards.
  • Payment methods – POS systems for small business, a card reader, till.
  • Waste disposal – bins.
  • Coffee grinders – for commercial use.
  • Security alarms – CCTV cameras, fire alarms.

Choose a premise

Location and size are the two main factors you should consider when deciding on your premises. If you want to appeal to young adults, then set up shop close to a university or college; however, if you want to appeal to office workers, look for a location that catches the most foot traffic from workers walking to and from work.

Typically, coffee shops will need a lot of open space to work. You want to have an airy and freeing atmosphere, with comfy sofas and seating area. You may also want room for bookshelves.

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