Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about opening your own cafe? Or maybe you already have a plan in mind and are looking to get your ideas off paper and make them a reality. Opening a coffee shop doesn’t have to be just a dream.
As an entrepreneur or aspiring business owner, knowing where to start and learning the ins-and-outs of cafe design may feel daunting. After over 15 years of operation, our team has experienced first-hand the process of opening both our own and client cafes. It is our goal to help other like-minded coffee shop owners feel confident and ready to design a cafe space. In this piece, we share our insight and discuss the five major things we’ve learned about opening and designing a cafe.
1. Have A Clear Vision
Before jumping right into the design of your dream cafe, it’s important to establish your vision and purpose. Great questions to ask yourself and your team include:
- Why are you opening a coffee shop?
- Who are you looking to serve?
- What value do you bring to your community?
These are all questions you and your business partners should outline before making concrete design decisions.
Dan Bailey, the owner of Amavida, explains, “the best designs start with a vision and strategy.” He emphasizes the importance of consistency, if your business’ ethos is to be more environmentally responsible, avoiding brand confusion is vital to your overall vision. He offers guidance by saying, an eco-conscious coffee shop may want to consider the type of products they use. Whether you want to design your dream cafe to help reduce carbon emissions or use of plastics, having a clear “why” needs to be a part of your business model too. A strong vision will aid in your design process.
2. Know The Concept & Associated Costs
Once a clear vision is established, the next phase is refining the concept of your cafe. During this stage, you will need to spend time developing a plan on how you will build your space, what equipment you want to use, what items you will include on the menu, and the associated costs with opening a coffee shop.
This is the phase you want to focus on investing time up front, Dan advises, as it will influence your decisions in the future. Establishing a budget is vital. One of the services we offer business owners at Amavida is providing you with parametric cost estimates for your concept. We understand, as an independent coffee house, knowing all the associated costs that come with cafe design can be rather intimidating, especially if this is your first time opening a coffee shop.
Another key part is designing the cafe of your dreams with both your customers and baristas in mind. A balance between the seating area and the coffee bar and the kitchen is vital to workflow efficiency. Baristas need space to thrive at their craft, consider the overall space and working area before making any interior designs decisions and equipment installation.
3. Location, Location, Location
Let’s move on to the fun part. Location scouting! Taking the time to explore potential locations in your community is not only exciting, but one way to learn more about your potential customers. A few things you should consider while searching is traffic, both vehicle traffic and foot traffic. Is the area lively in the morning? What time of day is the busiest?
Weigh the potential risks and benefits of the location you’re considering for your dream cafe design. When we were presented with the opportunity to open in Seaside, FL we knew it was a good fit. We connected with the small beach town on their local values and the simple, clean, new urbanist lifestyle they advocate. Similarly in Rosemary Beach and Historic St Andrews. While each of these areas is unique from the other they still have much in common that made them the right spot for us. Had either of these had a drive-thru (not that there’s anything wrong with that), it wouldn’t have been a fit for Amavida.
Remember your vision and concept, this will help you evaluate your options and make the best choice that fits with your needs and brand goals.
4. How To Achieve A Smooth Design Process
When it comes time to begin the design process, consider your vision, space, and future goals. Working with an architect and consulting with a specialty coffee partner will aid your team and help this process run smoothly. Walking the space and mapping out where your equipment, customer space, working space for the baristas, and products will live, will give you a better understanding of what design elements and build-outs your cafe requires.
During this stage, your team will also want to work out any costs you will need to put into the design. You don’t want the headache of discovering your air conditioning unit was at the end of its life cycle after you already opened. Dan suggests business owners inspect all elements including electrical, sewage, and drainage before moving forward!
5. Community Is Everything!
The final lesson on our list is keeping your community’s interests and needs in mind. “Coffee spaces are a stage for the community, the community gives you permission to be there,” adds Dan. You could have the most innovative cafe design, but at the end of the day, if you don’t earn the trust of your community, you may not have the excitement you were hoping for.
Having a delicious coffee program with passionate, skilled baristas is just as important as the customer experience. Everything down to the art on the walls, the music you play, and the way your staff interacts with the customer, can make a big difference to your community and your success.
As you can see there is a lot to consider when designing a coffee shop. By sharing our experience, we hope you feel more confident about designing your cafe.
If you are an aspiring cafe owner or have already been operating a cafe for some time now, we offer services to help you along the way. At Amavida, we combine our extensive coffee house experience with the highest industry standards to offer consulting services in conceptualization, design, installation, equipment maintenance, and also offer our partners high-quality, organic coffee and cafe products. We tailor our services to your unique needs, to learn more, contact us for a consultation.