Starting Your Own Coffee Business – A Need to Know Guide

Thinking of opening your own coffee shop or cafe? Read on…

Know your coffee – Work experience

Before you even think about opening your business, you need to know what it’s actually like to work with and around coffee, so If you’ve never worked in a café or in the coffee industry before, it would be a great idea to spend a couple of weeks working in one to gain an understanding to the amount of work involved. This time can also be used to gain valuable tips on how to build a successful coffee empire! Your experience may be negative, however these negatives that are highlighted from working around coffee are things that will be easier to avoid when running your own business.


Stand out from the crowd, try to be different! – Marketing and communications with prospective customers 

If you have worked as a barista, in a cafe or with coffee you will know exactly what types of strategies to use in order to grab the attention of prospective customers. However, if you haven’t, fear not! All it takes is a quick visit to your local Costa or Starbucks. Whilst on your visit to the coffee shop of your choice, keep an eye out for promotions, POS (point of sale), posters and even any signs that point towards free wifi! But if you’re too busy to visit your local coffee store, get online via both social media and your chosen stores website and see what campaigns they are currently implementing and try and tailor certain marketing styles to your own coffee business.

Also don’t be afraid to try new things. There is a vast selection of new fair-trade and gourmet blends that independent coffee shops have added to their men’s to set their businesses aside and make them more unique than the rest. 

Most big coffee chains give out free samples of new products and blends in order to get first-hand feedback from customers. This is a great way to trial a new blend that you are considering to add to your menu. Also, this is also a great way to entice people into your store (or to make great use of any excess stock from your last bulk order of coffee!)   

‘Location, location, location’ – Location is key

Are you someone that picks up a coffee on the way to another location? Don’t worry two-thirds of people in the UK do it too so you’re not alone. Because of this reason, when setting up your business try and choose an area that is in a busy area, located near to a train station, shopping centre or high street. The only downside to setting up your coffee business in a busy area is that the price of rent will most likely be quite expensive. However if money isn’t an issue and you are going to set up in a busy area, be on the lookout for competitors, especially market leaders Costa and Starbucks who are highly favoured by coffee consumers. Even though these market leaders might be within your coffee shop’ radius, don’t let that push you away from opening up nearby, as there are consumers out there that prefer an independent coffee experience to a larger chain.

‘Size matters’ – Size of your business

What kind of environment do you want your coffee shop to have; is it a place for busy commuters to grab a quick caffeine fix or a setting where consumers can relax and catch up? Who are you going to be catering for and more importantly what can you afford?  These are a number of questions that you’ll need to ask yourself before even viewing potential spaces to rent. Here is a breakdown of what the average sizes of coffee shops tend to be: 

Small café (capacity of 15-45): 500-1000sq ft

Medium café (capacity of 45-100): 1000-2000sq ft

Large café (capacity of 100+): 2000sq ft +

The size of your coffee business will affect how many customers you can cater for. As soon as you know this figure you can start to plan and budget how much you are going to allocate towards coffee beans and even the rental of coffee machines (if you don’t already own your own!)


 ‘Make sure you know your stuff!’ – Food safety standards.

Any business that offers a service where food or drink is served to the public will have to abide by the rules of The Food Standards Agency (FSA) the main governing body that regulates food safety in the UK. You will have to be aware of and ensure that you comply with these standards if you do not want to risk your business being closed or scoring a low food hygiene rating. Food and drink businesses that score low tend to be avoided by consumers, as they want the assurance that their favourite blend of coffee is being brewed in a clean environment that is not due to put their health at risk.

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