coffee shop

Tips To Run A Successful Coffee Shop: Equipment, Supplies, Accessories and More

Coffee Shop: Ordering 101

So you want to open a coffee shop? Or update the one you currently own? Sit tight because there is much to think about.  Most importantly, avoid one of the biggest mistakes any foodservice can make: Buying residential equipment. Commercial equipment is a must because products for home buyers simply cannot meet the demand of heavy day-to-day use. It’s important to start off on the right foot.  Capiche?


When ordering a coffee brewer consider what the volume will be like, how much space is available or how busy peak hours will be. 

coffee shopStyle: Pour Over or Automatic Brewers

There are two types of coffee makers: pour over and automatic. Pour over brewers are great for low volume establishments. They require water to be poured in as opposed to having a water line, which makes them portable. Pour overs aren’t the best option for a full service coffee shop serving large amounts of coffee though.  The better option would be an automatic brewer which requires a water connection to provide a constant supply of coffee.

Space: In-Line or Low Profile

As far as space goes, there are in-line and low profile brewers. In-line brewers are ideal for narrow settings where height isn’t an issue. They are vertically shaped and hold decanters on the top.  Low profile brewers are better when width isn’t an issue and hold decanters to the sides of the unit making them ideal for a horizontal setting.

Brew Features

Many brewers include a built-in hot water option which is great for tea or oatmeal. Looking to save energy? Look into units with an automatic shut-off or an energy saving mode. The energy saving mode is great in between peak hours to enable baristas to get right back into the swing of things quickly.

Serving multiple different types of coffee?  There are brewers available with dual heads to enable you to brew two different types at the same time.

coffee shop grinderOther Types of Equipment

Coffee shops can use a coffee grinder to grind their own coffee.  This allows operators to have more control plus create a drink with a much fresher taste.  A  unique and fresh taste is what will set a coffee shop apart from the other hundreds of thousands out there. Plus there are cost savings since a step in the process has been taken out.

Expand your menu with a few other types of equipment such as tea brewers, hot water dispensers (great for hot chocolate, tea, etc.), hot powdered drink machines (hot chocolate, cappuccino, etc.) or espresso machines.

There’s more to expand with than just coffee.  Beverage infusers are ideal to add flavor to a drink for total customization. (Bonus points with customers again for uniqueness). There are also other types of dispensers such as cold drink dispensers for tea or lemonade or frozen drink machines which are great for margaritas, cocktails, lemonades, smoothies, cappuccino or daiquiris.

Don’t forget about water filters to reduce coffee bitterness and prolong the life of machines. 

Serving food? That is a whole different ballpark but there are many pieces of cooking equipment to quickly get menu items prepared and merchandisers to present them in.

coffee shop cupSupplies and Accessories

The supplies used to serve beverages or  display condiments are just as important as the equipment. They are the final presentation.  There are many different types of serving containers from airpots and decanters to beverage servers and carafes.  If you aren’t using a disposable cup, there are a variety of styles of china mugs to choose from too.

Enhance an area by making it an airpot station and include the essentials (coffee, sugar, creamer, etc.)  For creamers, some vendors have versions with indicator socks for types such as milk, skim and soy.  Then also, prevent messes with drip catchers. This small inexpensive little add keeps an area clean and dry.

If you plan to leave coffee out for self-service, as opposed to having a menu board, there are a a variety of signs out there to place by the serving dispensers.

Organize, Organize, Organize

Organization helps employees and customers. With coffee shops, customers come in to get their beverage as quickly as possible then move on to their next task. Even if they plan on staying, they aren’t coming to the shop to wait in line–which is why the staff must be prepared.

Ideas to be as organized as possible include:

  • Cup and Lid Dispensers: Help to avoid items tumbling over, or scattered around which wastes space
  • Condiment Organizers: Help customers quickly identify the items they want to compliment their beverage.
  • Built-In Trash Bins: Allow customers to quickly throw away wrappers, containers, etc. from the condiment station. They are built right in. 
  • Waiting Systems: Some drinks take longer than others. Look at your space and determine a way to get people through as quickly as possible. Perhaps it means two lines, or it could also include a spacious area for customers to stand in while they wait. Toss in a newspaper, or even a convenient charting station.
  • coffee shop shelvingBack of the house shelving: Have a system in place for storing the items that cannot be left out when the coffee shop is closed.

Customer Experience

You can have great coffee and set-up, but there is more to the customer’s experience than that. One of the most important things is the furniture. Since many plan to stay at a coffee shop for hours, make sure the chairs can be comfortably sat in for extended periods of time.  A few other things to consider include:

  • Complimentary WiFi and charging stations
  • Music (Pandora, Sirius XM or other music services–choose the best for your environment)
  • Food (Pastries, sandwiches, snacks)
  • Trained staff that is friendly toward customers


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