The coffee industry is booming right now. In 2018, the coffee shop market was valued at $45.4 billion in the United States and growing. In fact, there are roughly 150 million daily coffee drinkers in the country, with sixty percent of Americans going to a coffee shop at least once a month. So, if you have a passion for roasting beans and have dreamt of owning your own shop, the market is primed and ready.
However, competition is steep. One of the most important things to consider is how your coffee shop will stand out. What kind of unique experiences are you going to offer to customers? Ultimately, one of the biggest things that will set you apart is how you decide to design your shop. How will it look and feel? What colors or décor should you have? Let’s break it down.
Why Design Matters
When building any business, it’s essential to have a clear brand identity in mind. This is especially true in a coffee shop. Unlike restaurants or stores, there’s not a singular purpose for coffee shops. At a restaurant, the objective is clear. Come in, eat, and leave. At a store, it’s the same. Come in, shop, buy, and go. For a coffee shop, the purposes are multi-faceted.
Some people go into a coffee shop for a quick pick me up. Others go in to sit and study. Sometimes they’re meeting places or workspaces. There are even cafes that encourage playing board games or reading. Ultimately, how you design your coffee shop will depend on the type of customer you want to attract and the kind of atmosphere you want to create.
From the menu to the décor to the customer service, you should design your shop around how you envision your coffee shop experience. Your color story, dining area, artwork, counter, menu board, restrooms, and even your register all need to be designed with your brand in mind.
Ultimately, the look and feel of your shop should be unique, but there are several design concepts and philosophies to consider when opening a small coffee shop.
Especially in a small space, you’ll want to adopt a minimalistic design aesthetic. Instead of going for bulky furniture and tons of decorations, you’ll want to reel it in to maximize your space. Instead of doing large tables with ornate legs, opt for quaint, round tables with smaller, industrial-style legs. Rather than covering the walls in décor, go for a few statement pieces that embody the atmosphere you’re trying to create.
Going minimal will help with your design focus, too. If you have a smaller space and less to purchase, you’ll really be able to ensure every detail of your shop is perfect.
However, when going minimal, don’t skimp out on your outdoor signage and décor. It’s crucial that your outdoor signs match your shop and that they’re legible and entice people to come inside.
Ambiance is crucial for creating the perfect space. Do you want a cozy coffee shop that encourages people to stick around for a while? Or, do you want a fast-paced shop that inspires quick turnaround times? How you set the mood through your design will help create the atmosphere you’re hoping to achieve.
First, think about lighting. A dimly lit space is cozier, while a bright shop exudes a busier environment. If you go with bright lighting, go for natural light versus fluorescent. In a small space, the more windows and natural lighting you have, the bigger your shop will feel.
Second, think about the color story. Coffee shops tend to go with darker color stories, but you can choose colors that fit your desired motif. Read into the psychology of colors and how they affect consumers. For instance, red and yellows create an impulse in peoples’ minds. Blues tend to calm people. Make sure your colors will psychologically affect your patrons how you want them to be affected.
Third, think about sound and acoustics. Do you want background music? If so, make sure not to play it too loudly. Studies have shown loud music can turn off customers. Also, make sure your acoustics fit your vibe. Do you want people to be able to have intimate, private conversations? Do you want it to be quiet or bustling with chatter? Make sure that the echo acoustics are where you want them to be.
Fourth, think about scent. Scent is one of the most significant aspects of setting the right environment. Back in 2007, Starbucks started using packaged coffee, and in turn, their shops lost that overwhelming coffee aroma. As a result, they saw a dip in sales. Once they realized the impact, they reincorporated the coffee scent, and sales picked back up. So, don’t underestimate the power of the fresh coffee aroma when designing and creating your ambiance.
Functionality and Customer Flow
Above all else, when it comes to design, you need to think about functionality and customer flow. Can your employees quickly move around and do their jobs? Can the customers move around from counter to table with ease? From the moment a customer walks in, their process needs to be seamless and comfortable.
A lot of coffee shops, especially smaller ones, will line tables along the edges of the wall, and leave only a few in the center. This layout ensures that there’s plenty of space to walk around, while also providing enough seating. Other coffee shops make use of outdoor patios, counter seating, and lounge areas.
Think about your process. Will customers order from the counter, or will they sit and be served? Design your shop with the customer flow in mind. Also, take into consideration things like privacy and crowding. Coffee shop patrons tend to go to coffee shops and expect some level of privacy, and they likely don’t want to be crowded. Minimize the propensity for crowding with the design of your layout and flow.
Start with Your Concept
Ultimately, when it comes to designing a coffee shop, it all comes down to your vision. There are a few tried-and-true design concepts. For instance, go for minimalism and prioritize ambiance through lighting, color story, sound, and scent. Make sure the customer flow is solid and prioritize privacy and comfort.
Start with a strong vision of what you want your customers to experience and create that atmosphere with your design choices. Stay true to your ideas, and you’ll be well on your way to having the hippest new coffee shop in the area.
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