How Your Target Audience Might Affect Your Coffee Shop Layout

Designing Your Coffee Shop Layout

The layout of your coffee shop is integral to the identity of your space. It determines the flow of customer traffic, how the space can be decorated to suit your brand’s aesthetic, and more. But the first question you should ask yourself when designing your layout is “who are my people?” Different audiences value different amenities from coffee shops!

The Rise of Mobile Coffee Shops

The New York Times reports that drive-thrus are increasingly popular with Gen Z and younger millennials, especially in this post-lockdown world. Kim Severson writes “People emerged from the pandemic with less tolerance for interacting with strangers.” She found that Gen Z, for their physical and psychological safety, prefers drive-thrus. They provide a barrier between them and “disgruntled” shoppers and “equally unhappy” staff. 

Pets also play a key role in the rising popularity of drive-thrus. Diana Kelter, Mintel’s associate director of consumer trends, says “People don’t like to leave their pets at home. And you can’t bring your dog into Starbucks.”

A 2021 Deloitte study of 1,000 customers, reveals that drive-thrus were the most popular option for restaurant ordering. The amount of surveyees that ordered delivery or takeout at least once a week went up to 61% in 2021, a 31% increase from just the year before!

drive-thru coffee shop barista handing customer a coffee through the window

Beanstalk Coffee and Sno

Types of Coffee Drive Thrus

What type of drive-thru is best for maximizing your resources? Different types include:

  • Traditional cafe with indoor seating and a drive thru, which can offer the best of both worlds!
  • Drive thru coffee shack or trailer (Typically costs between $80,000 and $200,000 to open, not including land). This can be a great entry point for many coffee startups.
  • Hybrid concepts that offer other products or services (like snow cones, ice cream, popsicles, cupcakes, or food) plus a drive thru. This also has the added benefit of multiple revenue streams.

Sit Down Cafes are Still Popular

Not all demographics are seeking mobile coffee shops. Older customer still enjoy the concept of a “third place” and having a space to sit down and relax while enjoying their artisan coffee. 

Esquire Coffee writes “Coffee shops offer a uniquely calm atmosphere where people can gather with family and friends to catch up over a cup of something warm.”

Compared to restaurants, bars, and other dining establishments coffee shops typically have a more inviting atmosphere. They can provide a separate space for customers to relax or get work done away from the office or home.

The concept of the “third space” is important to consider when pursuing a layout that invites customers to stay for work or socialization. Narae Lee writes for Science Direct, “Findings indicated that cafés and coffee shops can provide psychological benefits like that of urban parks.” If your layout and design aesthetic are done well, your coffee shop can provide a mentally restorative space.  

coffee shop bustling with great interior design

Photo by No Revisions on Unsplash

And sit down coffee shops can help customer’s build a stronger sense of identification with your brand and thus foster greater brand loyalty. Of course, this isn’t impossible with drive-thru only shops, but having a space that can foster community development within your shop is a benefit. Especially if your brand identity is focused (gaming culture, art culture, alternative rock culture, etc.) a sit-in cafe provides an established common ground for the development and growth of a new community.

Who are your people?

This brings us back to the opening question: Who are your people? When you determine your target audience you can better evaluate the space you’ll need to cater the trends and behaviors associated with that audience. Of course, if it’s in your budget, a spacious sit-in cafe with a drive-thru may satisfy a wider range of customers.

Dive deeper into drive-thrus, layouts, and customer experience in our 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class. View upcoming dates and register to kickstart your Coffeepreneurship® path!

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