How to Start a Coffee Shop: ​5 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Open a New Coffee Shop or Café Successfully by 30Seconds Mom

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How to Start a Coffee Shop: ​5 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Open a New Coffee Shop or Café Successfully

When you research how to open a coffee shop or café, you might learn the basics but not much more. After all, few coffee entrepreneurs may want to share their secrets or things they learned along the way to make you money. In the grand scheme of things, you may be their competition! 

With more than 37,000 coffee shops in the U.S. and it being a $36 billion industry, there are some tips you may want to consider before you open your business or even buy a coffee shop espresso machine. Some of the tips may surprise you!

1. Hire Your Baristas First, Before You Buy a Machine

Your baristas are undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of your business. They greet customers, make the food or drinks, and in some cases can draw more business to your shop. With that said, they also come with certain skills and talent. For example, you wouldn’t want to buy a manual machine if your baristas can’t operate it. You may want a certain atmosphere in your shop and the average barista might not cut it.

When you hire your staff first, you should know what they can and can’t operate. This makes buying the right machine much easier than buying it and hoping you get an application from someone who can operate it. You don’t have to base your entire decision on your employees, but you need to be willing to invest in improving their skills and talents.

2. Your Business Type Can Help You Decide on Which Machine to Buy

Coffee shops and coffee machines come in all shapes and sizes. The key is picking the machine that can handle what your business has to offer. For example, you may want a shop that only sells a few coffee drinks and is mostly based on selling food. In this case, you can get away with any type of machine provided your staff knows how to work it.

Other shops might have a large volume daily and need quick service. If you aim to run your business with high volume and an emphasis on coffee drinks sold, semi-automatic, automatic and super-automatic machines are what you’ll want. You’ll also want the machine to appeal to your aesthetic. Some machines offer a classic look but deliver fast services. You may even consider buying a manual machine for specialty drinks or connoisseurs.

3. Accessories Are Key

You might think all you need is the espresso machine and you’re good to go. Wrong! Cappuccinos and lattes are only a couple of drinks that can’t be made with just the machine as it is. Drink creation is more complex. Some accessories will ensure a smooth operation, too.

One critical accessory to consider is the group heads. Your machine’s output capacity is limited by the group heads. A group head is where the brewed espresso comes out of. Commercial machines come in one, two, three and four-group machines. Smaller shops won’t need more than one group, but the higher volume you have the higher group-head you’ll need.

Milk pitchers and thermometers are accessories you want to have as well. Some machines might already come with them, but if they don’t, you may want to buy them. Milk pitchers ensure you safely froth the milk and thermometers ensure the drink is at the right temperature.

A tamper usually comes with a machine, but in case it doesn’t you should consider buying one. Tampers guarantee your espresso has even extraction. This works by allowing you to pack the grounds into the portafilter. The portafilter is another accessory, if not the most important one, you want to have. There are many different types to suit your needs.

4. Consider Your Plumbing Type

This may not seem important, but it matters. Espresso machines often hook up to existing water lines. These types of machines are called plumbed or direct-connect. They’re considered the most ideal because it doesn’t require your employees to refill water reservoirs. You can use a water softener or filter to make the machine produce higher-quality drinks because of the better water quality. It also prevents damage to the machine from scaling.

The other option is pour-over machines. Some espresso machines have built-in reservoirs that need to be filled when the water depletes. These machines can be used anywhere because they don’t need a water line. However, you or your employees will need to replace the water. This might not work well or be as efficient if you have a high-volume shop.

5. Machine Features Make Life Easier

Espresso machines offer all different types of options. Some come with the basics and require you to purchase add-ons or accessories, while others come fully loaded. Depending on the type of shop you have, you may want very little or no features. High-volume businesses will appreciate features like a fully automated touch screen, water filter or pre-programmed settings and timers. For a busy barista, these can make quick drinks with consistency, saving time and making more profit.

Opening your own coffee shop can be an overwhelming experience. You must find the right location, staff and machines on your own. It could become increasingly difficult if you aren’t sure who to trust or where to turn to. Rivals might give you advice that isn’t really specific and is more general. While that is helpful, it won’t show you the true reality of owning your own shop. Hopefully these tips can ease your mind and guide you to the right decisions for your business. 

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Elisa Schmitz
How awesome is this! Believe it or not, back in the day, I dreamed of opening a café. I just love the social aspect of coffee shops. Awesome tips for aspiring coffee entrepreneurs here, thank you!
I had no idea how much went into this type of business. You really need to do your research before starting a coffee shop or restaurant.
Donna John
My son would love to open a coffee/cocktails shop. Hope he gets the opportunity to try one day. Great information here! Going to pass it on to him.
Mike Prochaska
Buy or rent building ?
Great tips for coffee entrepreneurs / restaurateurs. 🔥
How awesome! 🙌🏼
Mike Prochaska
Never realized so much went into opening a cofeee shop

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