Coffee Shop Layout and Design Tips for 2023 and Beyond

Take a moment to consider some of your most memorable coffee shop experiences. Maybe the not-so-great ones come to mind first—like that time you waited in line for 30 minutes or got lost trying to find the restroom. But maybe you’re also thinking of that one-of-kind interior design you saw in a new city, the menu item you tried and loved, or the cafe where every barista knew your name. If you’re asking questions about your coffee shop layout and design, then you probably want to create an experience that will wow every customer who comes through your doors. (Or your to-go window!)

As the coffee shop industry evolves in 2023, there are a few ways you can optimize your coffee shop’s environment. Read on for our up-and-coming suggestions.

You could learn about coffee shop layout and design from the experts in our 3-Day Coffee Business Class.

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Coffee Shops Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Although there’s still plenty of opportunity for the traditional coffee shop to succeed, some coffee shop start-ups are throwing tradition out the window. Let’s check out a few familiar and innovative coffee shop formats.

Drive Thru

Coffee shops might focus on their drive thru, which can allow you to serve more customers in less time. Customers are drawn to convenience and efficiency, which helps attract a new target audience. And drive thrus are often easier to add on to existing businesses, like a sno cone stand.

Beanstalk has a coffee drive-thru.

Mobile Coffee Business

A mobile coffee business—in the form of a truck, van or stand—is another way to meet your audience where they are, literally. Rather than building out an entire venue, you build out the vehicle, which requires optimizing your limited space and investing only in the equipment you need. And Lady Sunshine Coffee benefits from the flexibility of choosing the location, menu, and how many days to work.

Hybrid Coffee Shop

The past several years have seen the rise of hybrid coffee shop models, and the idea continues to take off. A hybrid coffee shop is one that combines coffee service with another business—like flowers, motorcycles, books, clothing, and surf gear, to name a few. It’s a way to increase both the number of transactions and the amount per transaction, which increases revenue. This revenue can be used to pay rent and run operations while still turning a profit.

Ultimately, the coffee shop format you decide on will depend on your business concept and customer. There’s no one-size-fits-all location. But consider how you can get creative with the space you choose!

Choose a Profitable Location

A key lesson that we teach in our step-by-step guide for how to start a coffee shop is about choosing the right location.

Choose a space in the wrong neighborhood for your demographic, and you won’t get enough traffic.

Too much square footage, and you won’t be able to turn enough revenue to cover rent.

Based on appearances only, but you need more than aesthetics to bring customers through the door.

Fear not—it’s possible to find the right location by doing your research. First, consider the surrounding businesses and foot traffic you’ll see. Are there other food and dining or shopping options nearby? Maybe a salon where guests might stop in for a coffee? On the other hand, if the space is next door to a dollar store or the DMV, it might not draw the customers you need.

Second, what’s already in the space? If it used to be a restaurant, it probably already has the grease trap, storage, and electrical infrastructure you’ll need. This might cost more upfront but could save you a lot of the investment money that comes with a full buildout.

Finally, consider that less could be more. Real estate will be one of your main expenses. Even though a grand shop that can fit the whole neighborhood might sound exciting, you only turn a profit where the drinks are sold. If you’ve got the budget, great! Are you biting off more than you can chew?  Consider a smaller space, a mobile option, a drive-thru stand, or adding multiple streams of revenue to increase your average transaction. Wayward Coffee Store front

Design for Efficiency and Function

Once you’ve secured a location, it’s time for the fun part—decorating! Your decor and aesthetic should align with your coffee shop brand. Before you start the process, consider these coffee shop floor plan tips:

Make Sure Equipment Fits

Behind the counter is where the money is made, so you want to ensure every machine has a spot and there’s an efficient workflow for baristas. It also helps to consider your menu—if your primary focus is cold brew, for example, then cold brew equipment should be easily accessible. If you’ve got a robust food menu, you’ll need more kitchen space. Another way to put it is to “design from back to front.” This step thinks about the back’s needs.

Use Vertical Space

If you opted for less square footage or are serving coffee out of a coffee stand or vehicle, then it’s important to make the most use of that vertical space and save floor space when possible. Shelving can go all the way up to the ceiling. And you probably don’t need that drop ceiling, either.

Choose the Right Furniture

It’s tempting to choose cozy couches, but customers don’t want to be crammed against each other. And even though a large communal table has a nice feel, many folks don’t want a shared work space—they want their own table. Keeping that in mind, you might opt for several smaller tables and comfortable chairs that allow an individual or a group to enjoy their coffee.

Hire Professionals

If the idea of designing your coffee shop to a T sounds daunting, hire a professional! We actually recommend doing this first if you can fit it in your investment. An architect can help you develop the interior and exterior of your shop, keeping local variables in mind and using their experience in customer preferences.

Coffee shop equipment.

Get More Coffee Shop Layout and Design Education in the 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class

Designing your coffee shop start-up is a huge topic that can take weeks to get the hang off. Our students rave about what they learn in our 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class, like this review from Joey A:

“[Texas Coffee School] is comprehensive, covering every detail of the biz, from being a barista, hiring, vendors, building, leasing, maintaining equipment, projecting sales, merchandising, and so much more. For us, this was perfect whether we open our own store or not, because it would save us ruining a dream we had or chasing one that doesn’t work. Above all, it was just a super fun and unique experience.”

Are you ready for a hands-on learning experience to help you start or continue on the road to Coffeepreneurship®? Check out upcoming class dates and make the leap today! We can’t wait to have you in the classroom.

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The Best Coffee Training Available

We’ve helped hundreds of students successfully launch their own coffee shop businesses. Join us in our 5-Star Rated Coffee Classes, whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to open a coffee shop, a manager, a barista or home enthusiast looking to sharpen your skills.