Coffee shop design layout

Design of your coffee shop is critical.  It creates the mood and feel for your coffee shop.  Get it wrong and people don’t want to stay, linger and spend more however good your tea, coffee and food offer is.

Coffee shop design ideas

There are so many different design ideas for your coffee shop.  Do you go traditional using perhaps some existing architectural features of the building.  Many of the artisan coffee houses have a slight hipster vibe with recycled/ upcycled furniture and fittings and a slight retro vibe.

One thing that is critical in designing the interior of your coffee shop is to try and get as much light into the premises.  Customers generally now like open airy interiors. A critical thing in the design and layout of your coffee shop is to have good or interesting views out onto the street or square.  Coffee shop customers love to people watch.

Lighting in your coffee shop

Lighting is so massively important in your coffee shop.  Make it too bright by the wrong use of lights then the space can seem bright and stark and unwelcoming.  If you make your coffee shop too dark and dimly lit then is can seem intimidating for customers and not allow the increasing number of coffee shop workers to get one with what they need to do.

The key to good coffee shop lighting design is to get a mix of bright and cosy.  This can be done by mixing the intensity of you lights. Pendant lighting can give areas of localised lighting which makes the space feel more intimate.  Ceiling spot lights give an even light throughout the building. Do remember that there is a whole range of light from very white clinical lights to warm orange and using a combination of these lights and lighting colours using LED lighting will transform the mood and feel of your coffee shop relatively cheaply.

How should I layout my coffee shop?

More critical than design is layout.  You can create a stunning looking design for your coffee shop but if the layout is not functional you will always struggle. Critical is whether you opt for counter or waiter service.  We are aware of a recent example of somebody with an award-winning coffee shop that ultimately failed because the layout just didn’t work.  It might be great to have your coffee shop in lots of small rooms or spread over several floors but think about staffing it.  It is not a coincidence that chain coffee shops generally are all laid out with a single counter and in a large rectangular room.

The layout of the coffee shop is related to one of the most important business aspects of running a coffee shop and that is staffing.  This is because staffing is going to be one of your biggest costs particularly in a larger coffee shop. A relatively moderate sized coffee shop that provides food and table service can easily employ 4-5 staff on duty at any one time.  With the current naitonal minimum wage averaging say £6 an hour your wage bill before any NI contributions could run to £30 an hour.  That’s a lot of coffee and cake you are going to have to shift just to cover your wage bill alone.  This is not even taking into account your rent and business rates. The answer is to spend time finding a coffee shop premises that allow you to staff your coffee shop with the minimum numbers of staff.  One pointer to this would be the chain coffee shops. Go in and see how these coffee shops are laid out. You will see very quickly that most stores are rectangular with a single counter which allows the staff to see everything that is going on and also serve customers as soon as they enter the store.  This means that a couple of staff behind the counter will be able to deal with all drinks and food making and then in quiet times be able to do the clearing of tables. Compare this to a layout with numerous rooms and table service? How many more staff will you need for this kind of coffee shop layout.  On a recent visit to Manchester Airport I’ve studied the Caffe Nero where one member of staff managed to man the counter, make coffees, cook the hot food, stack the dishwasher and clear tables and still probably serve 30-40 customers in an hour. Now with that level of productivity you can see why coffee shops can be so profitable even where the shop rents might be high because of the footfall.  So when you do look at the design and layout of your coffee shop make sure that you approach the layout from the point of view of how you staff you coffee shop efficiently as your primary concern; not as an after thought.

Other critical things for your Coffee Shop design are:

Where does your kitchen go and how easy is it to get food to all your tables.

Think about storage space for your food, drink, frozen food, chilled and packaging.

Will your plans meet building control and environmental health approval and do your external alterations and even advertising require planning permission or advertising consent?

Have a look at floorplanner for some ideas.

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