Starting a Coffee Shop

How to start a Coffee House

The coffee house (coffee shop, cafe) is an HoReCa-type establishment, a place for meetings and socializing, where serve drinks and desserts including coffee, cakes, ice creams, green and black tea, juices, sparkling. Many places in the Middle East and Western Asia offer a hookah and flavored tobacco in addition. Some coffee shops sell coffee beans of any sort.


In the 17th century, coffee appeared for the first time in Europe outside the Ottoman Empire, and coffeehouses were established, soon becoming increasingly popular. The first coffeehouses appeared in Venice in 1629, due to the traffic between La Serenissima and the Ottomans; the very first one is recorded in 1645. The first coffeehouse in England was set up in Oxford in 1650 by a Jewish man named Jacob at the Angel in the parish of St Peter in the East. A building on the same site now houses a cafe-bar called The Grand Cafe. Oxford’s Queen’s Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is also still in existence today. The first coffeehouse in London was opened in 1652 in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill. The proprietor was Pasqua Rosée, the servant of a trader in Turkish goods named Daniel Edwards, who imported the coffee and assisted Rosée in setting up the establishment in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill.

Coffee shops in the United States arose from the espresso- and pastry-centered Italian coffeehouses of the Italian American immigrant communities in the major U.S. cities, notably New York City’s Little Italy and Greenwich Village, Boston’s North End, and San Francisco’s North Beach.

In Australia, coffee shops are generally called cafés. Since the post-World War II influx of Italian immigrants introduced espresso coffee machines to Australia in the 1950s, there has been a steady rise in café culture. The past decade has seen a rapid rise in demand for locally (or on-site)-roasted specialty coffee, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, with the “flat white” remaining a popular coffee drink.

Sourse: Wikipedia

Step-by-Step Guide to Opening

A coffeehouse refers to the easiest business model in catering fields. However, it requires the full commitment.

  1. Analyze competitors’ activity. This is the easiest way to learn the basic business nuances, as menus, prices, interiors, demand, the establishment workload, mistakes, success or failure causes, coffee shops to look up to. Put its names down on the pad or take its picture, take them into account when making another step. Read reviews about competitors on the Internet, learn what they like or dislike. Use to learn about coffee shops and similar establishments in other places of the planet, for example in New York, Paris or London.
  2. Analyze the coffee beans producers in your city or country. Coffee roasting services can be found in all big cities nowadays. If you live in a small town, you can order its product line via the Internet. Often roasters sell test kits. In the West, some coffee shops are engaged in the roasting, but it requires additional expenses, as equipment purchase, expanding the premises, studying of roasting technics, proper coffee bean procurement, additional staff recruitment or training the longtime staffers, suppliers search, etc.
  3. Make a business plan. Calculate all expenses and attainable profit, describe coffee shop’s menu, enumerate the equipment, opening hours, marketing strategy, etc. If things don’t workout, we recommend consulting specialists on marketing research and planning in your country.
  4. Choose the right location for the coffee shop. The best place includes the following features:
    • business blocks
    • crowded streets and its crossing
    • nearby metro stations
    • close to the train stations, markets, shopping centers, schools, or a place inside them
    • airports.

    Despite of low rents, the uptown is of no interest for the coffee business.

  5. Register your business. Examine the requirements for trading in your country and complete the registration process.
  6. Design the interior. You are lucky if you have good taste and you know it for sure, but this task is better to turn to professional design studios in many cases.
  7. Purchase furniture. The finishing materials and furniture of the coffee shop needs to be very durable. Tables, chairs, armchairs, sofas, bar counter, door, floor coatings with high wear resistance does not lose the appearance for a long time, despite the high attendance at coffee shops or any similar establishments.
  8. Purchase the equipment. The main list includes coffee machine, a coffee grinder, water purification system, refrigeration equipment, display cases, scales, water heaters, dishwasher, microwave, mixers. The rest of the list depends on the menu of your coffee shop. Basically, it involves baking and cooking.
  9. Create a main and coffee menu. There are establishments that sell coffee beans only, sandwiches, various cakes, biscuits, pastries. Other places serve all kind of dishes. When composing menus, take into account your country, region or city mentality, including pastries. Some coffee shops and cafes cook all dishes by themselves, while others buy from bakeries.
  10. Order your supplies. You will need a printed menu, packaging, crockery, cutlery, napkins, etc.
  11. Find product suppliers. Examine the commercial offers, choose the one that is best for you. It is better to find several suppliers to avoid any disruption in the coffee shop activity.
  12. Buy cash register equipment. You can use any type of cash. However, it must be based on the size of the coffee shop attendance.
  13. Recruit the staff. You can find qualified staff or inexperienced people, but with further training. You can headhunt by yourself or hire the professional agencies.
  14. Think of the marketing and advertising. This paragraph should include the name of the establishment, its concept, exterior and interior design, online promotion, social and offline media. Don’t forget about the distribution of leaflets, discounts, bonus cards, etc. Start since the room preparation stage, you can decorate the windows, walls with the statement about the soon coffee shops opening. Inform about your shop in Google My Business and Apple Maps Connect.
  15. Organize the opening ceremony with free coffee or tea, or contests, etc.

Basic Coffee Shop Equipment

Water Treatment

The quality of water influences the taste of coffee much as well as the service life of your equipment. Therefore, a serious coffee shop uses professional reverse osmosis systems for water processing that make almost distilled water. This water is often diluted with more saline water. Due to this fact, you can achieve the ideal ratio of minerals and rigidity.

The coffee shop can’t use tap or distilled water. As in the first case, the water will be too hard and coffee will be unsaturated and the equipment would often destroy from scaling. In the second case, low mineralization will make the drink sour.

Important water parameters:

  • Mineralization (TDS). You should use water with a salinity of 75-175 mg/l. Tap water is usually either too hard, with a salinity of about 300 mg/l or too soft, less than 50 mg/L. Water with a salinity of 100 mg/L suits the coffee best of all. The calcium level must be around 60±8 mg/l, and sodium 10 mg/L.
  • Chlorine. The level of chlorine in the prepared water must be equal to zero.
  • Ph. Ideally, when the Ph is in the range of 6.5-8. If the Ph rises, coffee is acidic, if the level of Ph falls, it becomes bitter.

You can just buy water, but you will have to find a good supplier with ideal parameters of the product because it differs between manufacturers. The labels often contain data on the composition of water.

Coffee Machine

The choice depends on the location – whether it is crowded or not – and the level of coffee shop staff professionalism very much. Every seller of coffee machines for HoReCa will always advise you and help you choose the right equipment. She or he will also train you to use it.

Espresso machines are divided into the following classes due to the degree of automation:

  • Manual espresso machine, which requires the operators involved to reach the needed water pressure.
  • Semi-automatic espresso machine creates the needed water pressure automatically. Further drink brewing is fully controlled by the operator.
  • Automatic espresso machine creates the needed water pressure and automatically control it. Meanwhile, the operator is still responsible for the correct proportion adherence and loading the ground coffee beans.
  • Super-automatic espresso machines carry out the whole procedure of coffee brewing, starting with grinding beans or dispensing of already ground beans and finishing with the drink spill in cups.

The most common commercial models of espresso machines are semi-automatic, since they combine the relative cheapness and speed of beverage brewing, and also give an opportunity to control its taste.

The automatic coffee machines are not widespread in coffee shops and other places since they make coffee not meeting the espresso standards, developed by the Italian Institute for espresso standardization. These machines are not able to reach the needed level of coffee bean extraction, the required ramming and time of the spill. Besides, the foam is obtained by pre-whisking coffee, but not at the expense of extraction as it is done in a classic espresso.

Superautomatic espresso machines are widespread in both the home use and in food service establishments (industrial superautomatic machines), where coffee is to be prepared in large quantities, with no specially trained personnel (Barista) or without classic coffee houses entourage. The industrial super-automatic espresso machine is much more expensive than the regular drip coffee maker. Not all restaurateurs can afford such equipment, except such large chains as like Starbucks, McDonald’s, Sbarro, etc.

You need a special copper sand brewer to make traditional Turkish coffee.

turkish coffee machine

What to Read and Where to Obtain Experience + Keys

We recommend you to read the book «The Professional Barista’s Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea» by Scott Rao. The book contains all the necessary information and many useful tips for the preparation of espresso, cappuccino, latte, as well as on the organization of coffee shop work. Tips are based on the large personal experience of the author and is enriched by reference to solid research in this area. All the instructions are so detailed, practical and vivid that they easily may be used even by beginners.


You may use schools courses for your own training or to train your staff. You will learn either to make coffee or nuances of business.

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