What are the secrets to a thriving coffee shop?

September 9, 2018 • 9 minutes

Kate Palanchuk
Kate Palanchuk
Content Marketer at Poster POS. Kate digs deep into the layers of new technologies and trends in the restaurant business to provide the best content for the blog readers.

The rise in the coffee drinkers across the globe is a good enough indication for the ‘coffeepreneurs’ to take the plunge into a coffee world. When you are a coffee aficionado and can brew some of the finest coffee drinks, your hobby can become more than just a hobby and cutting the ribbon of your coffee is the first step towards your goal.

When thinking on how to open a coffee shop, keep in mind that a fascinating business is one which can get you a handsome ROI. Let me explain to you with a small example you can relate with. If you have a wide range of menu and the cost of the procuring and storing diverse ingredients (of shorter life) will be way higher than the revenue you’re going to generate by selling the extra drinks rarely on the menu, then it is not okay.

While zillion other factors affecting the coffee ventures, I will tell you the most common and prime factors which can make your coffee shop thrive among the best ones in the town. I have discussed some covert tactics which successful coffeepreneurs won’t tell you but you should know before getting yourself into a coffee world.

Making a business plan, planning average costs of opening a coffee shop or purchasing coffee shop equipment are not actually a secrets to a successful coffee shop. There are small big things which play an enormous role in making the particular business outstanding and successful. So, let’s start by discussing the secrets; are they actually secrets? To be honest, they are not. These are simple things which we overlook often and fail at establishing a successful one. That makes these small big things a secret.

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Customer Experience

This is the first and the foremost factor or secret you need to take care of. One way or the other way the customer that enters your coffee bar or cafè should be satisfied with the service, which at least doesn’t make them abhor your coffee if can’t guarantee they will return again.

I am a coffee aficionado and pretty much know the reason why some of the coffee bars (not talking about the sharks such as Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts) get more customers than the other ones with the same quality of beverages and the ergonomics (I am considering all the other factors affecting are same to explain my point).

If you visit a cafè in the morning at its opening time, you see the staff cleaning tables and Barista making the arrangements. When your turn comes up and you order an Espresso and you hear in return, «Sorry sir, it will take 5 minutes because Espresso coffee makers are getting heated up!»

Ok, you can try out some other drink at this new cafè and now you ask for pastries. And you hear again, «Sorry, the pastries haven’t arrived yet» and later you realize that the pastries sweating inside the plastic packing lying on the bench beside the counter and no one is dedicated to doing the job to place them inside the fridge from where they can serve them.

Even if the coffee was good, would you come back there again in the future? Probably not. Comparing this coffee bar with another one that makes coffee a little worse (in terms of taste) but offer an excellent service, a customer experience still would make a first impression.


Big brands are big for a reason. They nailed the art of winning the hearts of people. They once were a small fish. So what’s the second secret working behind the scenes? Consistency in the service. You will never experience even a slight difference of taste in the drinks or foods of big cafè chains like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.

Well, leave those big brands, think about the famous mouth-spoken reputed cafè with catchy name in your town which doesn’t even have to advertise. Their consistency in the taste and the quality of the drinks and food say it all! People admire them and they become one of the best cafès.

Coffee’s taste relies on the quality, type of beans (mainly Arabica and Robusta), roasting (light roast, medium roast, and dark roast), altitude of the land from which the coffee is cultivated, shade it gets while growing etc.

The simplest way to maintain the consistency is to buy the same type of beans from the same supplier and roast them yourself and ultimately brew coffee the exact same way! This is the least you can do so that your coffee tastes almost the same every time customer visits.

Let’s see the ideal scenario. You use coffee beans cultivated from the land owned by you, roast them your way and brew the same way every time. This can be your best call and if this is possible for you, go for it.

Again, this raises the question, how can a coffee giant Starbucks maintain their taste? I have got to know about the simple and brilliant tactic that is working behind this. If you have ever noticed, Starbucks coffee tastes more bitter than you brew your coffee at home using your finest coffee makers. Why? They use dark roast beans. If you dark roast your beans, they’re pretty much going to lose their flavor which depends on the altitude and other factors. So, even if coffee beans are of different quality, dark roasting becomes the savior. Burnt things taste like burnt anyway, right?


Ergonomics are vital. A workstation must be designed the way that it allows barista to reach out all his things without moving his feet too much and perform his coffee duties. High coffee volume sales are the profound goal of every cafè and that is only possible when the working efficiency is great. That calls for another ergonomic aspect that workstation shouldn’t be designed the way that the workers have to compete for space inside.

Make sure workstation has a simple access to a bean storage, underneath waste bins, bar fridge milk, flavors, ingredients, grinders, coffee makers, apt bench-top heights, etc. A well ergonomically designed workstation has a small inbuilt sink which allows workers to clean quick. In a nutshell, a perfectly ergonomically designed coffee workstation is the one where a barista is able to maintain his smile out of joy when no one is around!

Merchandise The Margins

A happily returned customer will pay a visit again! Your profit margin and pricing of the food items should never be according to your revenue goal. A perceived profit margin works most times. Your coffee shop POS software can help you control your profit margins.

One more hack that works is you can sell general food items (coffee) at market rate and side food items, like coke below the market rate. That will drive a large pool of customers to visit your cafè and to make up with this margin, you’ll need to increase the rate of the food items exclusive (special drinks or special waffles) to your cafè.

Loyalty Cards and Coupons

People who felt great customer satisfaction will return to your cafè and will be your frequent customer. This secret works best for the people who have had a happy experience but can find the alternative to your cafè which would make them less travel to reach to any other shop and for saving a few cents by compromising a little bit with their coffee taste and quality.

For example, if you start giving out loyalty cards and coupons (there must be a strategy on coupons which favor your sales) which allows a person to have a free coffee drink of their choice, let say eighth purchase from your coffee shop. This will make that particular group of people keep coming 7 times to your cafè to get the eighth drinks for free.

Moreover, these loyalty cards should be the exact size of a visiting card or a credit card so that people can easily carry with them.


These were the five secrets to make a thriving cafè. This list is endless but I have discussed the most general and primary factors you need to consider. Some other secrets like making a drive-through and window counter for the consumers who just want to have a drink or a separate place where people can enjoy their games and can chat on social media using free wifi work best in the times of high customer volume.

There are many other small secrets that can skyrocket your cafè customer volume right after establishing your coffee bar, just find out which fit your business the most!

Written by Michael Daily, Coffeemakered Website Owner.

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