Coffee Shop Operations Best Practices

The most successful Coffeepreneurs® have mastered refined, efficient, consistent coffee shop operations. Consistency leads to better customer service, higher employee retention, and ultimately a more successful coffee shop. From there, coffee shop managers can adjust certain factors as needed.

From communicating expectations to employees to asking the right managerial questions, we’re sharing the foundation you need to start to build a successful coffee shop operations system. It starts with finding efficiencies, knowing what pitfalls to avoid, and having the right systems in place for your managers, trainers, and employees. 

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Coffee Shop Operations Dos and Don’ts 

If you’re looking to refine the operations at your coffee shop, start with these basic dos and don’ts.


  • Delegate. Ensure you have a plan for what each employee’s role and position will be for the day, and communicate the plan to employees as they clock in. Likewise, an employee operations manual can offer clear standards for opening procedures, down-time, cleaning, and closing.
  • Schedule weekly cleaning events. Many cleaning tasks are hard to complete during service hours. Scheduling time to dust, scrub mats, and so on will ensure the shop is always clean.
  • Organize. Always keep your back-of-house inventory organized and labeled. Consequently, an organized storage area will ensure items aren’t in multiple places and prevent over-ordering or inefficient ordering.

Coffee shop counter with coffee equipment and hanging plants


  • Neglect employee development. This may not seem operational at first glance; however, not putting time into the development of baristas can limit their abilities and their drive to grow. Even if certain employees do not want to move up in the ranks, take the time to find out what skills they want or need to develop in their current role. Texas Coffee School offers a 2-Day Barista Training Class to train employees on excellent barista services. Register yourself or your employees today!
  • Forget to create a plan for corrective action. Corrective action is inevitable, and it’s never fun. Therefore, creating a standard for how to handle correction and not neglecting the plan will standardize each situation.
  • Post schedules one week out. Employee work schedules should be posted at least two to three weeks in advance. This allows any issues to be handled well in advance and keeps employee work-life balance in check. Baristas will be happier for it. And happy employees make for a better workflow and positive environment.

4 Questions Effective Managers Ask Themselves Each Day: 

Your manager is at the heart of your coffee shop operations. An effective manager sets the tone for all employees and implements the processes that will help your coffee shop run smoothly and efficiently. The most effective managers ask themselves these questions each day:

coffee shop management

  • What managerial tasks do I need to accomplish?

    This is crucial for managers. Managers can get caught up trying to wash dishes when they haven’t finished next week’s schedule, or making drinks when they haven’t submitted payroll. Thus, make a plan for the day to execute all of the things only the manager can do. By completing your necessary tasks, you set the baristas up for success and can later lend a hand, knowing that coffee shop operations are running smoothly.

  • Have we cleaned the shop sufficiently?

    Each barista should have designated cleaning tasks for down times throughout the day. The manager must delegate tasks that correlate with each barista’s role. For example, the barista on the bar cleans the undercounter refrigerators. Without communicating and assigning these tasks throughout the day, closing procedures will take longer and cleaning will get neglected.

  • Have I compared labor costs to sales?

    Running a labor report multiple times each day ensures labor costs are controlled. The manager should evaluate the labor spend to see if it aligns with sales. If labor costs are exceeding sales, you need to cut hours that day. Overspending on labor can be detrimental to the business over time. We teach coffee shop managers strategies for budgeting effectively for labor, ensuring the appropriate level of coverage without over- or under-spending.

  • Did I check in with my staff?

    Taking time out away from the day’s checklist to connect with employees is important. Building a team and building trust go hand in hand. Ask staff members how they are doing and if there is any support they need from you. When you show employees you care, it goes a long way toward building a loyal staff and minimizing turnover.

3 Common Coffee Shop Operations Inefficiencies to Avoid:

  • Neglecting deployment. As leadership expert Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” The more clearly you can communicate tasks and expectations to employees, the better they can do their jobs. If a task goes undone, the employee must take ownership if they clearly understood the expectation. However, if you, as a manager, fail to explain the plan, don’t be surprised when efficiency falls to the wayside.
  • Improper training. Baristas with inconsistent coffee skills or lacking customer service can be a liability. That’s why it’s so important to offer your staff comprehensive barista training. Looks for a class that guides students through coffee education, customer service, and employee operation standards.
  • Inventory disorganization. Just like a messy home is a messy life, so is a messy storage room with missing labels, overflowing boxes, and no inventory tracking. So set aside a day or two to comb through inventory, label every bin, and communicate tracking methods to employees. Then, create a system to maintain inventory organization.

coffee shop operations

By establishing coffee shop standards now, your team has boundaries to work within and your business can thrive. If one factor isn’t working–employees are unhappy with the schedule, inventory is getting lost, or profit is dropping–you can hone in and tweak it as needed. We teach aspiring Coffeepreneurs® how to build an operations guide and launch a successful coffee shop. Register for an upcoming 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class to experience hands-on learning!

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