Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Tips for Setting Up Your Own Coffee Shop

Photo: Oh So Steffany

Coffee shops are big business in Britain, so much so there has been speculation recently that they may be replacing the humble British pub. Alongside the like of Costa and Starbucks who take a large corporate slice of the business for coffee consumed on our high streets, a number of independents are enjoying the success our changing coffee habits have supported. 

If you want to run your own business and are considering joining the ranks of the esteemed baristas of Britain, here’s a few things you need to consider…


You might be tempted to open up a coffee shop in your home town – after all, what could be more convenient than falling out of bed and heading over to open up shop? Plus, you’d have lots of readymade customers among your friends and family, right? While you don’t really want to live more than a 20-minute drive from your café in case of emergencies, you will need to spend a lot of time researching before you pick a location. You don’t want to pitch up in a hub among other coffee shops unless you are certain you can blow them out of the water with your particular offering.

Before you select a site, consider things like footfall in the area – are there offices nearby with workers who have the potential to become customers? What competition is in the area and what do rivals have on their menus? Do plenty of snooping – look at price points, check how busy the area is at key times before and after work, during lunch and at weekends. Investigate how much business rates are in addition to rent. If this leads you to a coffee shop on your doorstep, all the better, but be mindful that it may not. 


Even if you plan to focus on coffee rather than food you can expect some set up costs for equipment. If you’re purchasing a business, you may find that you have everything set up ready to go, but be sure you don’t pay over the odds for the convenience of doing so. Fridges and your coffee machine are likely to be among the most expensive purchases if you do decide to buy. You could choose to purchase these second hand and many coffee shops also opt to hire their coffee equipment, at least to start. You’ll find a number of specialist coffee machine hire shops online and most should provide training for your staff as part of the package, Ringtons is a well-established firm that operates in the North East.


Your brews might bring the boys (and girls) to the yard [cite] but it doesn’t hurt to have something else up your sleeve. Many independent coffee shops are successful because they manage to achieve some element of dual appeal. Depending on your target market you could choose to also have a deli on site, a small gift shop or perhaps a crafting area where local community groups can meet (and drink your coffee)! You may need to separate your space in order to do this and also consider what type of layout is going to suit your setup. For example, you could separate a small dining area with tables using internal bi-fold doors, with a deli on the other side. The advantage of using bi-fold doors is that both sets of customers are able to see the additional offering (café/deli) while interruption from one area to another is kept to a minimum. Vufold has a range of finishes to choose from, so you should hopefully find an option to match your décor.

A lot of people get caught up in creative menu experimentation in the early stages when in reality you may be better off considering just what your brand is about. Who do you want to appeal to? What drinks and food do they like? What do they like doing other than drinking coffee? How will the name of your shop fit with that? If you can afford to spend a little money on your brand identity it can help you stand out and accelerate the process to becoming a recognised ‘name’ in your area. Along with your shop sign this identity can be used on your menus and on social media, where engaging with customers can be a fundamental part of your business. Speaking of social media, you’ll also need to decide whether you’ll offer WiFi on your premises in order to attract business people on the move. This article from catering suppliers Lockhart considers the pros and cons of offering Wi-Fi to your customers.

Is owning your own coffee shop your dream job? Would you concentrate on the sandwiches cake and coffee market or offer hot food too?

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