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How to Run a Coffee Shop

Mrunal Belvalkar
A coffee shop can be a wonderful idea for a small business. However, if you are wondering how to run a coffee shop, here are some tips and tricks of the trade.
A coffee shop can be a brilliant idea for a home business. Coffee shops can work wonderful even as a full-fledged source of income.
A coffee shop can be one of the best places to meet new people, as well as catch up with your buddies. The relaxed atmosphere of a coffee shop can even help you unwind and get some 'me-time'; just you and your books, or you and your laptop, or better still - just you and your coffee.
If you are thinking of opening up a coffee shop, or if you already have one and are looking for tips on how to run a coffee shop that makes money, here are some business ideas that will help you perk up your business.

The Basics about Running a Profitable Coffee Shop

First of all, congratulations on your venture! You are soon going to do a lot of people good! Now, before we move onto tips and tricks of the business, let us first throw light on some of the basics, for you cannot and should not get the basics wrong! Here are the 3 basic tips from the customer point-of-view.

The Coffee

Make sure you serve real good coffee, especially if you want to increase the number of regulars frequenting your coffee shop.
You can have all different kinds of brew, all different mixes and what not. But if the basic, simple coffee you serve at your coffee shop is not up to the mark, no one is going to come back!
Understand the psyche behind this - a new customer always orders something 'safe' at a new coffee shop or restaurant. He/she rates the entire coffee shop based on that first cuppa. That might sound unfair, but it is true! Now, if the simplest of the coffees you serve does not live up to the customer's expectations, why is he/she ever going to come back?
Tip: Practice and practice and practice till you get your brew right, and train and train and train till your baristas get it right too. Also, learn from feedback. When you take orders, ask your customer if he/she likes his/her coffee black, strong or sweet.

The Mood

A lot of the success of coffee shops is dependent on the overall look, feel and mood of the place.
The furnishing and interiors of your coffee shop, and how you have decorated the place, should all make up a harmonious picture, where your customer feels comfortable, relaxed, and welcomed.
Make sure you have ample floor space. Do not cram too many tables in a small place. Customers do not want other people to even accidentally eavesdrop on their conversations!
Finally (and this is the most important thing), keep your place clean. This includes the tables, chairs, serving and billing counters, displays, and most importantly, the washroom.
Tip: Get friends and family to visit your coffee shop before it is open to customers and rate it for different things - experience, ambiance, etc. Work to improve the feedback.

The Service

Do not, for any reason, compromise on the staff and service! The staff you employ at your coffee shop should be enthusiastic, hard-working and young.
Train them how to greet customers, how to take orders and not make a mistake in serving them, how to suggest coffee combinations to customers, etc. Make sure your staff serves customers their orders within a stipulated time. Train them to take care of their customers and attend to them, even after they have served them their coffee.
Service to a customer does not end till the customer leaves your coffee shop. Here, it is important for your staff to be genuine rather than just 'nice' and 'polite' and all that jazz.
Tip: Think from a customer point-of-view. Visit nearby coffee shops and observe the staff. Note the mistakes they make, and make sure you avoid them in your coffee shop.

Some Extras to Run a Coffee Shop

You can do a lot of things to perk up business and run a coffee shop that makes money, and a lot of it too! The trick here is not to simply escalate the prices, but to work on the whole experience your coffee shop offers. Here are some tips to do just that!

From the Kitchen

You can sell food products at your coffee shop. You can sell different coffee beans, coffee powder, you can even sell cookie flour. Selling cookie flour will be a great idea, especially if you make the flour on your own and bake your own cookies at the shop.
You can even sell finished products, like cookies, muffins, etc. Make sure you avail a take-away for these goods as well, so your customers not only get to enjoy them at the coffee shop but can also take some home.


You can sell some merchandise at your coffee shop. This can include stationery items (like pens, notebooks, writing pads etc.), cups, coffee filters, thermos mugs and jars, water bottles, etc.
You can even sell t-shirts with funny coffee-related quotes. "Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as death, and sweet as love" is a Turkish proverb that any coffee connoisseur would love to have on his t-shirt! You can even offer gift vouchers for the merchandise.

Music Jukebox

Some combinations are made in heaven. 'Coffee and music' is one such combination. A good idea to earn a little extra cash at your coffee shop would be to hire or buy a jukebox for the coffee shop.
A coin-operated jukebox can be a brilliant idea. You can charge your customers anywhere between 20 to 50 cents, depending on how much you have invested in the jukebox. After all, what counts is, to be able to listen to your favorite track when it comes to your mind. The joy of it is beyond compare!


Many cafes these days are going all tech-savvy and upgrading themselves technologically, so should you! Keep a couple of computers in your cafe for anyone who wants a quick print-out, or wants to check his/her e-mail.
You can even offer Wi-Fi membership to your customers. This will ensure they keep coming back to your cafe again and again.

Support Local Artists

You can offer local song writers, poets, singers, musicians and artists a place to sell their homemade tapes, records, paintings, etc. You can charge them to exhibit their goods at your coffee shop, or you can make a deal to split the profit they make.
It will provide them with encouragement and much-needed buyers, while you earn some extra money and goodwill, of course. You can take it a step further and organize gigs. Gigs can be a good way to earn money too!
It is very important to get the mathematics of any business right. So make sure you manage your finances well.
It will be a good idea to speak to local coffee shop owners before you open your own coffee shop. Ask them about things like licenses, loans, space, lease, investments required, etc.
The best way to improve any business is to revamp it. It doesn't matter if you run a coffee shop or a book store. People love change. Make sure you change the look and feel of your coffee shop as and when you can afford it.
Try and always maintain the novelty factor at your coffee shop - through new brews, new offers, new recipes, and make people come back for more!