How to Start a Coffee Shop: A Beginner’s Guide

starting a coffee shop

How To Start A Coffee Shop: The million-dollar question is, how can you turn your dream of opening a coffee shop into a reality? Starting a coffee shop can be a dream come true for many coffee enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. However, like any business, it requires careful planning, research, and execution to achieve the desired success. 

How To Start A Coffee Shop

There are many factors to consider when starting a coffee shop business such as: supply of coffee beans, legal requirements, licenses, and business insurance,… And startup costs can vary widely depending on the size and type of coffee shop, with expenses including everything from rent and payroll to coffee roasting equipment and employee knowledge. Therefore, a solid business plan and cash flow projection are essential for any coffee shop startup, and a lean startup method can help founders minimize costs and maximize profitability. 

In this article, LE DEPANNEUR CAFE will explore all of these topics and more, including types of insurance and loans and interest rates, break-even points and payroll taxes, and mentorship opportunities for aspiring coffee shop entrepreneurs. Whether you’re starting a small coffee shop or a medium-sized or large coffee shop business, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to succeed in the coffee business. So, let’s get started!

Source for Your Coffee Beans

Options for starting a coffee shop

There are several options for starting a coffee shop, depending on your budget, experience, and goals.

One option is to start a small, independent coffee shop with a limited menu and low overhead costs. This can be a good option for entrepreneurs with limited funds who want to test the waters before investing more heavily in their coffee shop business. 

Another option is to buy an existing coffee shop business, which can provide a built-in customer base and established systems and procedures. 

Franchising is another option, offering the benefits of a recognizable brand name and proven business model, but with higher startup costs and ongoing fees. 

For entrepreneurs with a passion for coffee roasting, starting a coffee roasting business can be a viable option. This allows for greater control over the quality of the coffee beans used in your coffee shop, as well as the potential to sell coffee beans to other businesses. 

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to carefully research and plan your coffee shop business to maximize your chances of success.

How To Start A Coffee Shop

Starting a coffee shop can be a fun and rewarding venture, but it requires a lot of hard work and planning. Here are the steps to follow if you want to start your own coffee shop:

Step 1: Conduct Research 

Conduct Research

Before starting a coffee shop, it is essential to conduct thorough research. This research will help you understand the coffee shop industry, your target audience, and your competition. Some areas of research to consider include:

  • Market analysis: Evaluate the local market and identify your target audience. Understand the needs and preferences of your target market. Consider factors such as age, income, lifestyle, and location. This will help you create a coffee shop that caters to their needs and preferences.
  • Competitor analysis: Research other coffee shops in the area to determine what they offer, their pricing, and their business practices.
  • Industry trends: Stay up-to-date on coffee shop industry trends to understand what customers want and expect.
  • Location: Identify the best location for your coffee shop based on foot traffic, accessibility, and competition. Consider factors such as rent, utilities, and parking when selecting your location.

Step 2: Choose a Concept 

Once you have completed your research, you can choose a concept for your coffee shop. Your concept should reflect your brand and appeal to your target audience. Some common coffee shop concepts include:

  • Specialty coffee: Focus on high-quality, unique coffee beans and brewing methods.
  • Cafe: Offer a wider variety of food options, such as breakfast and lunch items.
  • Drive-thru: A convenient option for customers on the go.
  • Mobile coffee: Operate a coffee shop out of a truck or trailer.

Choose a Concept

Step 3: Find a Source for Your Coffee Beans 

The quality of your coffee is critical to the success of your coffee shop. Finding a reliable source of high-quality coffee beans is essential. Consider working with a local roaster or a specialty coffee supplier to ensure that you are offering the best coffee possible.

Step 4: Build the Company’s Brand, Culture, and Value

Building your company’s brand, culture, and value is important to create a unique and memorable experience for your customers. This includes developing your logo, establishing your values and mission, and creating a welcoming atmosphere.

Step 5: Write a Coffee Shop Business Plan 


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A business plan is a critical document that outlines your business goals, strategies, and financial projections. Your coffee shop business plan should include:

  • Executive summary: A brief overview of your business.
  • Plan to write Business Description: Location (physical or online); List of products or services – draft a potential menu; Target market; Law firm that reviews contracts; Pictures of the space; Floor plan; Leasing arrangements
  • Research Information about the Coffee Industry and Your Competition: Industry trends; Key financial measures in the industry; Local competitors – not only other coffee shops (both chains and independents) but also potential substitutes for coffee (ice cream, smoothies, etc.); Demographics and demand in your community; Consumer coffee sales sensitivity to economic cycles,…
  • Marketing and sales: Strategies for promoting your coffee shop and attracting customers.
  • Financial projections: A detailed financial plan, including startup costs, revenue projections, and expenses.

Step 6: Get Startup Loans

Starting a coffee shop requires a significant amount of capital. Even with a well-crafted business plan, you will need funding to cover your startup costs such as equipment, supplies, and employee salaries. There are various financing options available to new business owners, including loans from traditional banks, online lenders, and small business administration loans.

Get Startup Loans 1

“How much does it cost to open a coffee shop?” is a question that every aspiring coffee shop owner should ask themselves before embarking on their entrepreneurial journey. The cost of opening a coffee shop can vary widely, but on average, it can cost anywhere from $80,000 to $250,000 or more.


Here is a breakdown of some of the costs to consider when opening a coffee shop:

  • Location: The cost of renting or purchasing a commercial space for your coffee shop can vary greatly depending on the location. For example, a space in a popular downtown area may cost more than a space in a suburban area. The cost of rent can range from $1,500 to $5,000 per month.
  • Equipment: The equipment needed for a coffee shop can be a significant expense. You’ll need items such as an espresso machine, coffee grinders, blenders, refrigerators, and brewing equipment. The cost of equipment can range from $20,000 to $50,000 or more.
  • Inventory: You’ll need to purchase inventory, such as coffee beans, milk, sugar, and cups. The cost of inventory can vary depending on the quality and quantity of products you offer. The average cost of inventory can range from $3,000 to $5,000 per month.
  • Licenses and Permits: You’ll need to obtain various licenses and permits to operate your coffee shop legally. These costs can vary depending on your location and the type of permits and licenses required. The cost of licenses and permits can range from $500 to $5,000.
  • Marketing and Advertising: To attract customers to your coffee shop, you’ll need to invest in marketing and advertising. The cost of marketing and advertising can vary depending on the methods you use, such as social media advertising or print ads. The cost of marketing and advertising can range from $2,000 to $10,000 per year.
  • Employee Salaries: To operate your coffee shop, you’ll need to hire staff such as baristas and cashiers. The cost of employee salaries can vary depending on the number of staff and their salaries. The cost of employee salaries can range from $2,000 to $8,000 per month.

You should find more useful knowledge about “Cost to Open a Coffee Shop

Step 7: Find a Commercial Space

Commercial Space

Once you have a solid business plan in place, it’s time to start looking for a commercial space for your coffee shop. When searching for a location, consider the following factors:

  • Visibility: Look for a space that is easily visible from the street or sidewalk. This will help attract foot traffic and make it easier for customers to find your coffee shop.
  • Accessibility: Make sure the space is accessible for all customers, including those with disabilities. This includes having wheelchair ramps, wide doorways, and accessible restrooms.
  • Parking: Consider the availability of parking for your customers. If your coffee shop is located in a busy area, make sure there is ample parking nearby or consider offering bike racks for customers who choose to ride.
  • Foot traffic: Look for a location with heavy foot traffic. This could include busy shopping districts, business areas, or near public transportation hubs.
  • Neighborhood: Consider the neighborhood where you will be opening your coffee shop. Look for areas with a high concentration of your target demographic and consider the overall vibe of the neighborhood.

Once you have found a few potential locations, make sure to visit each one in person. Take note of the layout, size, and condition of each space. Consider the potential for any necessary renovations or upgrades and factor those costs into your budget.

Step 8: File for Permits and Licenses

Permits and Licenses

Before you can open your coffee shop, you will need to obtain all the necessary permits and licenses. This will vary depending on your location, so be sure to research the specific requirements for your area.

Some common permits and licenses you may need to obtain include:

  • Business license: This is a basic license required for any business to operate legally. You will need to apply for this through your city or county government.
  • Food service permit: If you plan to serve food in addition to coffee, you will need to obtain a food service permit. This ensures that your kitchen and food handling practices meet health and safety standards.
  • Building permit: If you plan to make any structural changes to the building, such as adding walls or electrical outlets, you may need to obtain a building permit.
  • Sign permit: If you plan to put up any signs advertising your coffee shop, you may need to obtain a sign permit.

It’s important to apply for these permits and licenses well in advance of your planned opening date, as the application process can take several weeks or even months. Be sure to budget for any fees associated with obtaining these permits and licenses.

Step 9: Order Your Coffee Shop Equipment

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Ordering the equipment for your coffee shop is a crucial step in setting up your business. The type and quantity of equipment you need will depend on the size of your coffee shop, the type of drinks you plan to serve, and the number of customers you expect to have. 

Here are some essential pieces of equipment you’ll need: espresso machines, coffee grinders, drip coffee makers, blenders, refrigerators, freezers, ovens, and more. You can purchase new or used equipment, depending on your budget. It’s important to choose quality equipment that can handle the volume of customers you expect to serve. You can find suppliers online or through local restaurant supply stores.

Steo 10: Hire and Train Your Staff

Your staff can make or break your coffee shop, so it’s important to invest time and effort into hiring and training the right people. Start the hiring process early and be clear about your expectations and job requirements. 

When interviewing potential candidates, look for people who are passionate about coffee and customer service. Once you’ve hired your staff, provide thorough training to ensure that everyone is on the same page and has the skills they need to succeed.

Step 11: Determine Your Coffee and Food Pricing

Coffee Shop Equipment

Determining the right prices for your coffee and food items is crucial for the success of your coffee shop. You want to make sure that your prices are competitive, but also that you’re making a profit. Consider the cost of ingredients, labor, and overhead when setting your prices. You may also want to research the prices of similar coffee shops in your area to get an idea of what customers are willing to pay.

It’s important to strike a balance between affordability and profitability. If your prices are too low, you may not be able to cover your costs and turn a profit. However, if your prices are too high, customers may be put off and choose to go to a competitor instead. Regularly reviewing and adjusting your pricing strategy can help you stay competitive and profitable in the long run.

Step 12: Open Your Coffee Shop

After you have completed all the necessary steps to start your coffee shop, it’s finally time to open your doors to customers. The opening day is a significant event that can set the tone for your business, so it’s important to make it a memorable and successful one.

One way to attract customers and promote your brand is to have a grand opening event. This event should be well-planned and marketed to create excitement and anticipation among your target audience. You can consider offering special promotions, free samples, live music or entertainment, and inviting local influencers or media outlets to attend.

Step 13: Offer Online Coffee Ordering

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In today’s digital age, many people are looking for convenience and ease of use in all aspects of their lives, including when it comes to ordering coffee. That’s why offering online coffee ordering can be a great way to attract new customers and expand your customer base.

Setting up an online ordering system can be relatively simple, and there are many platforms and software options available that can help you with this task. With online ordering, customers can browse your menu, select their desired items, and pay for their order all from the comfort of their own home or office.

Step14: Promote Your Coffee

Promoting Your Coffee is crucial to attract customers and grow your business. Consider social media, flyers, and other marketing strategies to promote your coffee shop and reach new customers.

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What Do Coffee Shop Startup Costs Include?

Coffee Shop Startup Costs can be a significant investment, and it’s important to understand the various startup costs involved. Some of the typical costs include: 

  • Real estate + utilities 
  • Legal fees for obtaining licenses and permits
  • Inventory (such as coffee beans, milk, and syrups) 
  • Equipment (coffee makers, grinders, and an espresso machine)
  • Tables, chairs,  furniture, decorations
  • POS system, other technology 
  • Employee salaries 
  • Marketing and promotions

Additionally, there may be costs associated with creating a catchy coffee shop name and logo, developing a website, and hiring a consultant or mentor to provide guidance and support. 

It’s important to create a detailed business plan and cash flow projection to accurately estimate these costs and ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover them. With proper planning and management, a coffee shop can be a profitable and rewarding business venture.

FAQs about How to Start a Coffee Shop

Why do most cafe startups fail?

Most cafe startups fail due to poor business skills, inadequate management, and lack of financial planning. Without a solid understanding of these key principles, cafe startups are more likely to struggle. Effective management is critical to the success of any cafe, and startups must carefully plan their finances to ensure they have enough resources to weather the early stages of their business.

How many hours do coffee shop owners work?

The number of hours coffee shop owners work can vary widely depending on various factors such as the size of the shop, its location, and the owner’s management style. In general, coffee shop owners typically work long hours, often starting early in the morning and working late into the evening. It’s not uncommon for coffee shop owners to work 6 or 7 days a week, with workdays lasting anywhere from 8 to 16 hours.


How many employees do you need to run a coffee shop?

The number of employees needed to run a coffee shop depends on the size of the shop, its location, and the owner’s management style. Generally, a small coffee shop may require 3-4 employees, while larger shops may need more. The number of employees needed can also vary based on the coffee shop’s operating hours and peak periods.

Can I run a cafe with no experience?

It’s possible to run a cafe with no experience, but it can be challenging. A range of skills is required, including business acumen, management, financial planning, marketing, and customer service. To increase your chances of success, conduct market research, seek advice from experts, and invest in training or education.

What makes a cafe successful?

A cafe’s success depends on several factors, including providing excellent customer service, offering high-quality products, creating a welcoming atmosphere, effectively managing finances and operations, and differentiating themselves from competitors. Ultimately, a successful cafe focuses on meeting customer needs and preferences while also ensuring that the business is profitable and sustainable.

What skills do you need to run a cafe?

To run a cafe, you need a range of skills, including business acumen, financial management, marketing, customer service, menu planning, and staff management. You should also have excellent communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, knowledge of food safety and hygiene regulations is crucial.

What are the major challenges faced by the café owner?

Cafe owners face several major challenges, including managing finances and cash flow, attracting and retaining customers, hiring and retaining qualified staff, maintaining quality and consistency in food and drinks, and keeping up with industry trends and regulations. Additionally, unforeseen events such as equipment breakdowns or natural disasters can also present significant challenges for cafe owners.


How can I make my café popular?

To make a cafe popular, focus on providing excellent customer service, offering high-quality and unique products, creating a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere, using effective marketing strategies, and engaging with the local community. 

Providing consistent quality, offering promotions or specials, and utilizing social media platforms can also help increase visibility and attract new customers. Word of mouth recommendations from satisfied customers can also be a powerful tool in making a cafe popular.


Is starting a coffee business worth it?

Starting a coffee business can be worth it if you have a solid business plan, relevant experience or training, and the financial resources to support your venture. However, it’s important to carefully consider the risks and challenges involved, such as intense competition, changing consumer preferences, and high operating costs. 

Conducting thorough market research and seeking advice from industry experts can help you determine whether starting a coffee business is a viable and worthwhile investment.

Is it hard to run a coffee shop?

Running a coffee shop can be challenging due to the various skills required, including business management, financial planning, marketing, and staff management. Additionally, competition, changing consumer preferences, and industry regulations can add to the difficulty. However, with dedication, hard work, and the right resources, running a coffee shop can also be rewarding and fulfilling.

Conclusion for How To Start A Coffee Shop

How To Start A Coffee Shop: Starting a coffee shop can be an exciting and rewarding venture for aspiring entrepreneurs. However, it’s important to have a solid plan in place and be prepared for the challenges that come with owning and operating a business.

In this beginner’s guide, we’ve outlined 14 essential steps to help you start your own coffee shop, including conducting research, choosing a concept, finding a source for your coffee beans, writing a business plan, building your brand and culture, getting startup loans, finding a commercial space, filing for permits and licenses, ordering equipment, hiring and training staff, determining pricing, opening your coffee shop, offering online ordering, and promoting your business.

While there are no guarantees for success, by following these steps, you can increase your chances of starting a successful coffee shop that stands out in a competitive industry.

We encourage you to share this guide with friends and neighbors who may be interested in starting their own coffee shop. With careful planning and hard work, your dream of owning a coffee shop can become a reality. So go ahead and take the first step towards turning your passion for coffee into a thriving business. Good luck!