What Equipment Do you Need To Start a Coffee Shop?


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Choosing Your Coffee Shop Equipment 

Other than the terms of your lease, one of the biggest decisions you can make is that of your coffee shop equipment. It is easy for the new and inexperienced coffee business owner to “Go For Broke” and buy the wrong or unnecessary coffee equipment – racking up debt or squandering their cash on hand.

We find this topic so important that we've dedicated an hour conversation in our online coffee shop business startup kit, which available.

The question often asked by people who want to start a coffee shop is, “What equipment do I need?” If you are a business person who also wants to know what kind of equipment is required, you just might be surprised. 

So what’s the answer? The answer always depends on what kind of food and beverages that you plan to serve. What items do you want to have on your menu?

Your menu will ultimately determine your equipment needs, which will often have a ripple effect into other areas of the start of your coffee business.

How to Start a Coffee ShopFor example, if you plan to offer food made on site, you will need a permit and health department approval on that. And you may or may not need specific equipment based on that menu.

There is no doubt, that your menu and equipment, consequently impact the design of your coffee shop as well. After all, if you need nearly 5 sinks, a prepping table, a commercial grade refrigerator, freezer, ice maker, etc. how will that impact your space?

Regardless of what you serve there are several important things when it comes to your coffee shop equipment that you need (and are required) to open up a café or coffee shop. And we'll list many of them below for convenience. 


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Your coffee shop equipment needs will be based on your menu. Your menu depends on your customers. Knowing your target market and what need you are satisfying in the market place, will help you determine the equipment needs.

Additionally, the type of coffee business will determine your coffee needs. For example, if you have a coffee concession stand or truck, your equipment will need to consider the plumbing supply and the available power supply. 

With that said, there are a few basic things that you will need to provide your coffee and satisfy the needs of local agencies like the health department.  With your menu intake and your coffee shop equipment decided upon, you'll need to find the appropriate space for your business. This may be more space for sinks, prep tables, refrigerators, storage, grills, etc.  

Finally, all this impacts our bottom line: our budget.  When people ask how much does it take to start a coffee shop or set up an espresso stand, I always ask the question: what's on your menu. Consider the following workflow: 


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Not understanding this basic workflow can increase your spending (by a lot) and may delay your coffee shop or coffee stand opening. The fact is that you might not need all the equipment you anticipate.

You might not need so much space to set up your coffee stand. Everything begins and ends with your menu. One of the important things that is left off this workflow is the ongoing relationship that you will have with the health department. You menu (and therefore your budget) really impacts everything.

Here are a few pieces of coffee shop equipment that you may need:


A Three Compartment Sink

A three compartment sink is absolutely vital to your café or coffee shop. The reason is that you will always have to wash dishes, rinse them, and sanitize them. Additionally, you will need a separate hand washing sink to ensure you and employees are able to wash your hands. This is usually required for most cafes or brick-and-mortar coffee shops. 

A Mop Sink/Closet

The health department wants you to make sure that you have a mop sink that drains well and can be used to quickly clean up any spills. The mop closet needs to be able to adhere to certain temperatures. You cannot for example use a hand-washing sink or food prep sink as a mop sink. 

A Commercial Water Heater

You’re going to need a commercial grade water heater that fills up quickly. A commercial hot water heater or hot water tank will ensure that you have enough hot water to last throughout the day at an appropriate temperature level. If you have a coffee stand, your commissary may be the location for this water tank. 

A Commercial Refrigerator

A good refrigerator that keeps the temperature constant while being opened and closed continuously throughout the day is essential.

Equipment you need for a coffee shop

Your Espresso Machine

There are a variety of espresso machines that you will/could use. Espresso machines may be the heart of your coffee producing venture. You have to have a quality espresso machine that will meet the highest demands of your business throughout the day.

Depending on the traffic that you will have throughout the day, you may consider having a “2 group” or “3 group” espresso machine. Each espresso machine requires some type of plumbing and a certain amount of energy. This is particularly important for coffee drive-thru stands and coffee concession-type trailers or trucks. 

Professional Coffee Grinders

You’ll need at least two grinders (one for your espresso and the other for decaf). Professional grinders are important for a number of reasons including the consistency and superior quality of your coffee. The size of your grind is also important for extracting the perfect espresso shot. Grinders can be very sophisticated and help you  with having the perfect amount of espresso before you tamp it. 

Work and Food Prepping Table

If you prepare your own food, including sandwiches, bagels, salads, or paninis you may need a prepping table that is separate from your other items. Your food prepping table is a table for just that – preparing your food. They aren't places to hold your cash register or espresso machine. Some municipalities may be more picky than others, so consider doing some homework.

These are just a few of the items you will need for your café If you are buying an existing café, make sure that you have the equipment purchase individually itemized in writing. If you are starting from scratch, meaning that you will not have any equipment, then be aware of the menu decisions and how they will impact your bottom line, the equipment needed, and design necessities.


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Small Wares & Miscellaneous items

If you make coffee, you are going to need some required items such as pitchers, twisted frothing spoons, tampers, and other items. You will also need cups or ceramic where to serve the coffee.

Your Budget and Your Coffee Equipment

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Start a coffee business: Photo credit: Tumblr Black Oak Coffee

When shopping for your coffee equipment there is no doubt that you will be thinking about your budget in the back of your mind. “Can I afford this?” and “Do I really need that?” As we have written before, the ultimate budget for your coffee shop will have to align with your concept and your menu ideas.

If they don’t then some adjustment to your concept or menu will be needed.

We believe that your coffee shop equipment is really what makes your “bread and butter”, or in this case your coffee. Without the appropriate equipment you will be hard pressed to deliver what your customers want and what ultimately your goals are: to be profitable.

Never compromise on the quality of your tools to make money. Now with that said, is there a way to save? Is there a way to reduce your overall budget costs when it comes to your coffee equipment? Sure, but it takes planning and requires you to take a hard look at what it is that you want to accomplish with your coffee business.

While you may not need a shiny new refrigerator or a sparkling toaster oven, you may need dependable grinders and an espresso machine.  

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Learn How To Choose Your Coffee Shop Equipment (And Save Money)

Our Coffee Shop Startup Kit

Our coffee shop startup kit provides you with a tremendous amount of resources that will be helpful for you when starting your coffee business. In the exclusive audio interview package you'll find an informative one-hour interview with a coffee equipment expert.

The most common mistake when starting a coffee shop is the coffee equipment. Additionally, our coffee shop business startup kit provides informational and educational interviews that dig deep. We ask the important questions that you will want to know when staring your coffee business.

Topics range from your coffee shop equipment decision making, your coffee shop property lease, to the ability to navigate your health department – it's all here in one convenient online package.

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