Things to consider when you design your coffee shop’s layout

Design your coffee shop’s layout

This is perhaps the most exciting part of opening up your café. It’s easy to get swept up in color swatches, palettes and Pinterest rabbit holes, but at the same time you don’t want to lose sight of the practical details either. While every space is different, in this article we share the key aspects you need to consider when you define your floor plan. 


Go with the flow

The old adage lends itself well to planning the space of your café because taking into account how people will move throughout the different areas is of the utmost importance. Before you purchase any equipment, furniture or decor, analyze the following.


Customer flow
Minimize the chances of people standing in the way of other people, particularly the waiting staff. For example, make sure to place your cash register where people standing in line to pay won’t inconvenience anyone coming and going. Similarly, patrons stopping by a shelf perusing the products on sale shouldn’t obstruct anyone’s path.


Employee flow
Be smart about where you place your machines, or you’ll have to somersault to serve a cappuccino when it gets busy! Consult with a specialist or your baristas and waiting staff if necessary to install them where it makes the most sense for the way you work. You may have to invest a little more to begin with, especially if complex construction and plumbing is needed, but higher productivity always results in higher returns, so keep that in mind.


The barista’s workstation

Work smart, not harder with these fundamental tips.

  • Place your equipment so multiple people working at the same time don’t have to interrupt one another.
  • Minimize the distances your barista has to walk. For example the fridge with milk and juices shouldn’t be in another room or service will be slow, at the same it should be placed somewhere where opening it won’t obstruct other people.
  • The glasswasher under the espresso machine is a typical mistake many make, if you go through many cups and need to load/unload it frequently it becomes problematic for whoever is preparing coffees. 


How you place your espresso machine

How you place your espresso machine also plays a crucial role in the style of service you intend to offer.
  • An espresso machine placed along the wall opposite your counter means that your staff will have their backs turned as they prepare coffees and won’t be able to converse with the patrons, at the same time the customers won’t be able to see their coffee being prepared. This is a solution often adopted by high-volume coffee chains which have numerous staff members working at the same time. There are usually two groups at the counter, one remains at the cash register taking orders and payments, the other prepares coffees in the back and passes the cups to the person liaising with the customer. So this option could work well if you too intend to employ a large team, but it’s less ideal in other instances as you won’t be able to see what happens on the floor as you make coffees.
  • An espresso machine placed on the counter allow you to talk to your customers while you prepare their coffee and at the same time you can keep an eye on the entire space, you can greet for example patrons entering the café. This solution suits well smaller businesses with fewer staff.
  • An espresso machine perpendicular to the counter and the wall behind is a happy compromise between the two illustrated above, as it still allows you to talk to the customers and show them the preparation, though it is less easy to monitor the space this way. 

Marketing opportunities 

Clever design can advertise your business throughout the day, without you having to lift a finger, so don’t miss out on any chances.
  • If possible, place tables along the window to instill trust in passersby, you want them to think that if other people have chosen this coffee shop it mustn’t be so bad.
  • Your shop window can feature decals with your specials or the beverages you serve, it can also showcase food and/or products you sell, to entice customers inside.
  • Spot any upsell opportunities throughout the floor to make people purchase more than just a coffee. 
  • Feature your social media handles prominently so that customers can easily tag you and/or create backdrops that are too irresistible not to take a selfie with. The objective is to increase free publicity as much as possible.