29 Easy Steps to Setting Up Your Coffee Shop

 How to Setup & Open Your Coffee Shop Business

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 The Easy Way to Setup Your Coffee Shop Business


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

Want to set up your coffee shop business? Perfect! You're at the right place. Nowhere else will you find more information on how to start a coffee business then right here at Coffee Shop Startups.

In the following article, we will discuss the important steps to start your coffee shop business – whether your plans are to start a full-fledged coffee bar, a coffee kiosk, or coffee stand, our resources are simply so robust and thorough, that you won't find any other resources like ours.

To be sure, our goal here is never to sugar coat the process of setting up a coffee shop or starting a coffee stand.

After all, opening a coffee shop is always challenging (in a good way) and takes a lot of thoughtful planning and execution to be successful (and within your estimated budget!).

Rather than “sugar coat” the setting up of your coffee business, we are going to simply help you break down the process by the numbers so that you have a better understanding of what you need to do to plan, prepare, and finally take some real action towards your goal.

We call them “easy steps” to setting up your coffee shop, but each step can require a bit of time and attention. 

Additionally, taking easy steps doesn’t mean being careless when starting your business. Proper planning is essential. After all, there is a lot at stake, including your money, time, and energy. The lack of planning will often to lead to coffee business failing.

So, we hope that our coffee shop starting tips today (and throughout our Coffee Shop Startups website) can help you better develop and start your coffee shop, bakery, cafe or your coffee stand.  

Here at Coffee Shop Startups, we've dedicated ourselves to providing you with relevant resources to help you start your coffee shop or drive-thru coffee stand.


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As you probably already know, no two coffee shop entrepreneurs will start their coffee shop in the same way.

The variances in your location, your target market, your experience, existing competition, the real estate market, budget, financial needs, etc., will all determine what ultimate role you will be taking to set up your coffee shop.

So, while we aim to provide you a direct and familiar “1-2-3 step-by-step” format, you will have to weigh your own situation carefully and take steps in the way that works best for you and your coffee shop business.


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The steps to setup your coffee shop business

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Step 1: Learn as much as you can about retail coffee

Before getting started with planning your coffee business, I believe it’s important to learn as much as you can about the retail coffee industry. Of course, you may not be able to fully submerge yourself in coffee culture, but you should at least be acquainted with trends, coffee beverages, and the state of your local competition.

Can you imagine a cheese shop owner setting up shop and not knowing a thing about cheese?

When you are a small business owner, there’s a lot that you should know about, and even more that you should be at least aware about.

You might not need to be a specialist in anything to move forward, but you should be dedicated to finding out as much as you can about selling coffee, as well as business administration.

We believe our audio coffee shop startup kit is perfect for you to expand your knowledge base about the retail coffee industry. You can hear from other coffee shop owners on how they set up their business – the good, the bad, and ugly!

Launching your coffee business with less money, less headaches and less budget-destroying mistakes are all important for staying within budget.

Whether you’re planning to set up as a café, coffee drive-thru stand, or full-fledged coffee bar, you will want to hear their stories. I wonder just how their experiences, mistakes, and successes change your thinking about your own coffee shop business.

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Step 2: Decide to Move Forward & Actually Start Your Coffee Shop Business

Making the decision to move forward is no easy thing. To be honest, this is where we feel many would-be coffee shop owners get stuck in the mud.

Once you make the decision to move forward, things become clearer as you go through the items on this list (and you should be adding your own items to this list too!!). The biggest decision is actually deciding to move forward. Once you do that, everything else becomes easier.

the biggest step in starting a coffee shop

Now, here at this step…”Deciding to move forward with opening a coffee shop” – Well, in my opinion, this is where most people confront their fears, doubts, insecurities, and worry about money, time, and emotional investment in your project.

Unlike other resources that you might find online about starting your own coffee business, we want to acknowledge these real and emotionally-charged hurdles that many aspiring coffee shop owners actually wrestle with.

In our coffee shop audio series, you will hear several stories from real coffee shop owners who struggled with their own fears and how they decided to move forward, despite their fears, and take a chance at their dream.  The success they achieved would not have been possible without it.

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Step 3: Start Organizing Your Life To Prepare For Your Business

After you make the decision to move forward and start or set up your coffee shop or coffee stand, you will need to do an assessment of your life, in general. What actions will you take in an effort to manage your time better? How will you organize your personal finances to ensure you will have enough reserves to pay your personal bills and obligations?

This is where you will start to organizing your finances, savings, and time management – not only for the upcoming expenses but also of the time requirements that is needed to lay the foundation for your business.

It takes time to research even the small things that are essential to know. If you have children or you are caring for a family member, you will want to figure out how to schedule their needs as well during this time.

Setting up your coffee shop can be a robust part-time job and be taxing in many ways. Before starting your coffee shop, consider what areas in your life will be impacted before you jump in with both feet.


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Step 4: Research Coffee Shop Location Options

We all know that location matters. But what does that mean exactly? For us, and ideal location for a coffee business is decided on the optimal place where you will reach most people who's problem you are trying to solve. In this case, your customers' access to great coffee!

On a more geographic level, you have to place yourself in an area that has the market base to support your retail coffee business.

You need customers to sustain your business. So where will you place your coffee shop to maximize your position and reach those customers?

Start looking early for your location because you’ll want to look at several different areas and thoroughly analyze them to see if they will work for you. This takes some time. If you are not sure where to begin, simply start with areas you’re familiar with and move outward from there.

Are there any commercial space vacancies in your area or neighboring town? Is there any significant competition around? What’s the foot and vehicular traffic like? What's the price of rent per square footage? Finally, what’s your “gut” telling you? Would you want to set up and invest in this particular area or part of town? In other words, does the area “work” for you?

The earlier you start to look for the “perfect” location, you’ll be much more likely to find the spot without getting too desperate.

This is particularly true in areas where the real-estate market is tight. Once you settle in on a particular spot, you'll have more thorough analysis in front of you, like counting customers, checking out the tax and labor code, and other important information for that particular area.

Consider writing your coffee shop business plan as you gather more information and start working on your budget early (You'll want to know rental prices for the area to figure that in your pro forma costs).


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Step 5: Research Your Target Market

Taking steps to research your target market will be essential. I will be honest, it can be difficult to convince would-be coffee shop owners of the importance of researching their target market. They respond: “What target market? What’s there to study? Everyone loves coffee!”

Unfortunately, many coffee shop owners wished they answered a few basic questions before they moved forward and invested so much of their money into a market that might not be suitable for their particular business.

For example, you will need to answer some basic questions here: who will be your customer? Will they be the early morning rush hour traffic crowd? Will they be the study groups coming before or after class? Are they coming by foot, car, bus, train, metro subway, etc.? Why are they coming?

I once spoke to a coffee owner who wanted to serve coffee with “latte art”. Taking time for each latte served… But it turns out that his customers were always in a hurry and didn’t care much about latte art he was whipping up for them.

This wasn’t true at his other coffee shop locations, where latte art was expected and rewarded with big tips. However, the concept didn’t work at one particular spot in the city.  Rather, customers wanted their espresso fast and their Americanos hot. His customer-base started to dwindle down until he made changes and left out the latte art.

As you set out to start your coffee business planning, learn about your target market and never stop learning! Markets change. You would be surprised just how fast your demographics can shift right from under you.

Always keep your fingers on the pulse of your community and you will have time to make the appropriate changes.

Coffee Shop POS


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Step 6: Look at the existing tax & labor laws

Setting up a coffee business will require you to hire people. Depending on which state or country you are in, this is where things can get tricky. Hiring people requires you to be knowledgeable with tax and labor laws. When you look at existing labor laws, you will also want to explore your state, county, and city laws and regulations for hiring rules and regulations.

Things get a little more involved when hiring minors. So if you intend to hire someone who is still in high school or under 18, you will want to double check your local regulations.

In Seattle, for example, where there are many coffee shops, you will find a variety of state and local laws that aim to protect workers. You will find that some coffee shop owners feel that the laws are too restrictive and even burdensome to small business owners. Whatever your feelings about the law and rules for hiring are in you locale, you need to be aware of them.

Fortunately, the internet makes things a lot easier. You can research the laws of your state and city pretty easily. Such rules and regulations may require you to rethink your location options.  For example, if you start a coffee shop in Seattle, at the time of this writing, you will be seeing your labor wages go up, property taxes go up.

All this should be considered before you sign your lease for your coffee shop. Setting up your coffee shop business will be much easier if you know what laws and regulations you are getting into right from the beginning.

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Step 7: Review Your local health and building departments' local regulations

Most health and building departments want you to be successful with your coffee business. If you get to know the people involved, chances are you will realize that they are there to protect you and others. It is important that you go into your budding relationship with any city department with good energy with a positive attitude.

Take the time to call your local health department and building departments before you sign a lease or long before you decide on a location.

Often times, your local departments will have already prepared pamphlets or information on their website to help you determine their requirements for each specific type of business. If you live in a medium-to-large city, most likely your health department is already expecting you!

Drop by, introduce yourself, pick up any pre-printed materials and ask for any necessary contacts. By being proactive and positive, you will be doing yourself a favor in the long run. Before you sign anything (lease, rental agreement) for your coffee shop or even your coffee drive-thru stand, get the thumbs up approval from your local building and health department.

You can’t set up your coffee shop or opening your coffee stand alone. You will need help from agency employees – either from the health department, building department, or revenue office. Earnestly work with them and you will be just fine.

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Step 8: Decide on a Coffee Shop Name

Choosing a name for your coffee shop is important – it brings life to your dream! But deciding on the right name for your new coffee business might harder than you think. Of course, you will want a name you personally identify with and which others will be able to identify easily. But you also want to check to see if your name isn’t already taken. You can do a quick search online but you can also check with your state’s trademark office.

When deciding on your coffee business name, make it memorable, clear, and concise. Far too many coffee shops choose names that are either too generic or too specific that the majority of the target audience. I often like names that are meaningful to a community or a locale. When determining your coffee shop name think about the long term branding options you will have with it.

Additionally, use your friends and family as a sounding board for deciding on your final name. Choosing a business name can be an emotional and personal decision. You might love a particular name for your coffee shop, but if your friends or family members have doubts about it, do a little more thinking.


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Step 9: Decide on a business concept that you'll love

When starting your coffee shop, you might have a few thoughts kicking around your head about your specific business concept. Catch them!

The best and most challenging thing to do is to write down you concept ideas into a comprehensive paragraph or two. Writing things down forces you to flesh ideas out. By the way, this is one of many reasons why having a business plan is a good idea.

Develop your coffee business concept and create a business plan around it. Don't be afraid of changing or adapting your plan to the changing realities of your budget. Writing your coffee shop business plan doesn't meant that your concept is set “in stone”. It simply helps you to focus your priorities and it allows you determine everything else around the same concept.

Your business concept may go through several “lives” before you come to a good understanding of what you want for your coffee shop. This natural. This is okay. Allow for a little flexibility as you learn, develop, and grow in your own understanding.

Your coffee shop business concept will naturally develop and grow into what it will ultimately become, but you need to keep your hand on the wheel or else it may grow into something that you don’t want it to be.

Keep your hand steady on the proverbial “wheel” and you will keep your costs lower and you will end up with a coffee shop that you originally had envisioned.


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Step 10: Choose your coffee shop menu

When it comes to setting up your coffee shop, your menu is the lynch pin. As Mr. Lebowski once said about his infamous rug – which also pertains to your coffee shop – your menu “ties the room together.”

Seriously folks, what you serve matters to your customers and it ties everything you do together – your equipment, your space, your budget, and your health permit, chief among them.

Think of it this way: what your product allows you to do, is to satisfy your customers' “wants and needs”.

Satisfy your customers’ wants and needs, and you’ll be on track for long-term success.

Your menu requires certain things, such as space, equipment, labor, vendors, and approval from the health department and even your property manager! As with the time you put into developing your actual business concept, take a few minutes and write down exactly what you plan to serve to your customers.

Additionally, for items that you plan to make in-house (waffles, muffins, crepes, etc.), you will need to write a list of ingredients for your health department.  But you can’t do this without your menu. Plan your menu first and move out from there.

When setting up your coffee shop, your menu items should be among the first on the list of things you’ll want to work on.


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Step 11:  Make a list of your coffee shop equipment requirements

When you set off to start your coffee shop, you will soon realize that coffee equipment can be expensive. You don’t want to spend more than you have to. In order for you to know exactly what you need and what you are required to have from the health department (again by establishing your menu beforehand), you can then set out to go shopping for your equipment.

Make a list of the equipment you will need. Go through it, and try to figure out what you can live without. You will need an espresso machine, but it may not need to be a 3-group or 4-group machine. Additionally, you will need two coffee grinders and small wares. You will probably need a dishwasher, a refrigerator, storage space, etc.

The extras of course will depend on your concept, your menu, and your space availability.

FYI: In our Complete Coffee Shop  Startup Kit, we offer an enlightening interview about your coffee shop equipment. We discuss the important factors when choosing your equipment and how to save money by not making mistakes.

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Step 12: Develop Your Coffee Shop Budget

Setting up a coffee shop requires a budget. As you slowly go through these steps that we have outline so far and you begin to calculate the costs, you start to see what the expected budget for your coffee shop should be.

Developing your coffee shop budget requires you to ask the hard questions about what you want your coffee shop to be, what you want to offer your customers, and how you intend to deliver your product (and service).

Starting a coffee shop is not necessarily cheap. It requires a financial investment that would be significant for most people. But by planning your budget in a smart and thoughtful way, adapting to the realities of your financial situation, and the money you think you can raise can help you keep cost low.

When you set out to open a coffee shop, you may realize the “sticker shock” of the initial investments. You might be prone to not focus on the “the numbers” because it’s too much. Many of the initial costs are often one-time purchases and once you have them, you can use them to generate good coffee sales.

Nevertheless, your coffee shop budget is organic in the sense that it’s constantly changing, fluctuating, and adapting to your current circumstances, your choices, and actions that you take to reach your vision or business goals.

Our recommendation is to get your costs down on paper, understand what the budget must be for your particular business concept, rent, labor, etc. And see where and how you can make changes from there to best suit your financial needs.

Additionally, make sure that you have some additional capital to start out with in order to sustain you as you launch for the first couple of months. At first, you may not be able to make a profit, but you will still need to make the rent, pay employees, taxes, and vendors.

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Step 13: Write Your Coffee Shop Business Plan

As you start your coffee shop business, you will want to write your coffee shop business plan. Your business plan is something that your investors or your bank will want to see (if you decide to have any).

Additionally, a professional property manager or a seasoned property owner will also want to take a look at your business plan for your coffee shop.

If you are staying close to the outlined steps that we have already mentioned, you probably have already seen the need to be able to write things down

One of the important reasons for writing your business plan will be to articulate your thoughts and ideas in a manner that is most effective. Setting up your coffee shop requires planning and a good business plan will help you to do this.

For more information on writing a coffee shop business plan, read:

Five Good Reasons to Start Writing Your Coffee Shop Business Plan

How to Start & Write Your Coffee Shop Business Plan


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Step 14: Secure the financing of your coffee shop

Want to start a coffee shop? After the initial “Yes!”, most people immediately start thinking about the money that is required to start their coffee business (or even before they say, yes!).

To adequately secure the financing of your coffee shop business, either through your personal savings, borrowing, etc., you will need to come up with a reasonable budget and have a business plan.

If you are planning to borrow money, consider that most people who lend money to invest in a business, will want to see a well-thought and written business plan.

Your financing will need to be adequate to see you through until your coffee shop is profitable. One of the top reasons for failing coffee shops is not having the ability to secure enough financing until the business is self-sufficient. The amount of cash you need to set up is entirely based on your concept, your equipment, your lease, etc.


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Step 15: Discover local vendors

When you are setting up your coffee shop, you’ll have lots to do. Among them is finding great local vendors to work with. This is the fun part! Like other parts of this list, we recommend that you start early. Depending what you’ll be serving, you might have to visit a few vendors for each product. For example, you might want serve bagels, muffins, cookies. Additionally, you will want to serve sandwiches or wraps for the afternoon/lunch crowd.

Finally, you will want to check out and sample coffee roasters. The coffee you serve matters to your customers, so making a sound decision that works for you and your coffee will take some thought. We like the idea of staying local with your coffee roasting company choices, but ultimately you will have to make the decision based on your needs and taste.

Some coffee roasters may require minimum orders or charge for delivery and have other restrictions or terms on training. So be sure to figure out what their terms are before you work with them.

Coffee roasters may be able to provide your barista staff with coffee training too, so be sure to ask what they can provide you with before you choose to buy your roasted coffee through them.

In setting up your coffee shop, we recommend getting familiar with your local coffee roasters. Have fun too! Visit them. Speak with them. Go to “coffee cuppings” if they offer them to the public.

If they don't have public coffee cuppings, request a personal coffee cupping meeting. Most coffee roasters would love to entertain you for the opportunity to open a new business account.

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Step 16: Look at Several Coffee Business Locations and Speak to the Property Managers/Owners

Where are you going to set up your coffee shop? If there are two or three possible locations that you have been looking at in the vicinity that you have been researching, this might be a good time to check them out. Whether you use a broker or you simply pick up the phone and call the property owner or manager, you will want to check out the space available.

While the price is important to consider, you will have to consider other potential costs or delays, such as any additional remodeling costs. Plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work can add up pretty quickly. Does the space require a significant investment that you will certainly lose if you decide to leave the location?

We have a great audio interview in our Complete Coffee Shop Startup Kit that focuses on leasing your space.

We believe the total cost of the kit can be made up with the advice and pointers you’ll sure to get when listening to our coffee business kit. Our audio interviews are available through streaming only, which means you can listen to them anywhere.


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Step 17: Adjust Your Business Concept With the Realities of Your Financing

Okay, by this step many things should be starting to come together now. It is at this time or juncture, where you may want to reexamine your financing as it relates to your concept.

Review your business plan, review your financing opportunities, and review your budget. What changes do you need to make to ensure the financial viability of your coffee shop or coffee stand? Do you need to change anything at all?

Perhaps, you are able invest more in your coffee shop equipment, fixtures, or furniture. Or perhaps you might have to make some considerable changes by reducing your ambitions for a larger patio for now. Either way, now is a good time to be able to revisit your financial plan and coffee shop concept.

Setting up a coffee shop is a process. The process will always be impacted by your budget and available cash on-hand.

Read our previous articles on setting up your budget:

Before Starting Your Coffee Shop: Planning Your Sample Budget

How to Start Your Coffee Shop on a Budget

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Step 18: Count Customers in Your Perspective Coffee Shop Locations

After you pin down one or two locations for your coffee business, it’s a good time to dig a little deeper and examine their full potential

Among the top element you will need to consider when choosing your location is the availability of customers. The actual number of customers will play a key role in determining your break-even point as well as other pro forma financials. Operationally speaking, the numbers also impact your equipment needs, vendor ordering and your schedule planning (and thus, again, your break-even point). So, just how many customers will you have in a particular location, exactly?

Determining the numbers is an art and a science.  While we spend more time talking about this subject in our Coffee Shop Startup Kit, we will simply say that counting customers is as basic as actually counting the foot or vehicular traffic at the business site.

If at this time, no coffee business currently exists at your proposed location, you can consider the traffic at other nearby locations (competitors and substitute businesses) for you to count potential customers.

It is our recommendation that you count customers for several days, and at various times of the day. This would include such times as the morning rush hour, lunch time, and evenings.

Are these numbers guaranteed? No, but counting customers can give you a better idea of the available traffic and thus, anticipated sales based on a realistic percentage of the traffic visiting your location.

So for example, 4,200 cars pass during the morning rush hour, what realistic percentage of them will visit your easily accessible coffee stand (Assuming that they are aware of the coffee stand through well-placed signage, and good lighting, social media, etc.)?

Can you expect 2% of them during the morning rush hour? Possibly. So, you will have to make this determination based on the numbers and other variables. But you can’t really make any assumptions without having numbers (In this case, the number determined would be 4250).  Of course, if the coffee stand already exists and is in business, you can count actual customers that purchase items and realize better numbers to determine your projections.


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Step 19: Keep your eye out for the help you’ll need… (Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and book keepers)

When setting up and running a coffee shop or coffee stand, you’re going to need specialized help. Even if you know how to do many of the things, you are probably not going to be able to do it all.

Additionally, for things like electric or plumbing work, you may need to have a project done by a state licensed contractor.

So, as you start thinking about starting your business planning, put your “feelers” out for plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and bookkeepers). As with the other items on this list, you’ll want to start early. Ask around. You’ll be surprised how many of your friends, family, or neighbors have a trusted friend. Even consider asking other nearby coffee shop owners.

Reliable contractors are like gold and you can’t have enough of them. Keep your “Rolodex” (contact file) filled with potential people that you can call in a pinch. Getting a recommendation from someone who has already worked with the contractor is an added value.


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Step 20: Stay connected with your health and building department

Starting and running a coffee shop requires partnerships. Get to know your city and county departments that you will be working with. Write down the names, phone numbers, and emails of people that you have worked with and talked to. Begin to develop consistent communication with them or have a specific “point person” that you regularly speak with.

If you have questions, feel free to give them a call or send them an email. You don’t want to call them every day, but you might want to keep a list of questions handy, so that when you do need to call them you can ask away!

The important thing here is to view employees or inspectors of the health department and building department as a part of your personal business team. Having the view that they are members of your “coffee shop startup team” will empower you (and them) to help your business startup move forward.

A coffee shop audio interview you might want to hear: We offer an excellent interview with a local health department official that specifically addresses coffee shops and health departments.

If you want to start a coffee shop and you’ve even wondered about the inner-workings of health departments and the role that they play in your coffee shop business or coffee drive-thru stand, you will want to hear this audio interview!

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Step 21: Double check your lease before you sign

Setting up a coffee shop business or starting a coffee drive-thru will require you set up a lease agreement with a property manager or property owner. Your lease agreement can either support your efforts or really serve to tie you down. It is recommended that you get the help of a leasing professional before you sign your proverbial life away.

We believe that your lease is so important to your coffee business that we offer an incredibly enlightening interview about the subject. Our very affordable coffee shop startup kit provides a thorough look at the “leasing” issue.

But even if you don’t use our guide and interview for guidance, we recommend that you do get the help from someone – preferably an experienced professional, especially if you have never signed a lease agreement before.


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Step 22: Establish your business structure

Setting up the legal structure for your business before you move forward will now be important. You may have elected to do this first and that’s okay. The earlier in the process, the better to help you prevent any “co-mingling” of money.

Like any other business, you will have a variety of options for establishing the legal framework of your business. For example, you might consider opening as a partnership or limited liability company (LLC).  Whichever you choose, make sure the choice works for you as tax and liability issues are always at stake. 

Setting up your coffee shop business within, say an LLC, you will be able to set up a bank account (checking and savings) which will help you put money away and allow you to better keep tabs on your spending. And that brings us to our next step!

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Step 23: Open up a business bank account

Once you get your business structure established, you will be given a state ID number (a Unified Business Identifier, for example), that you will use to apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN) that is provided by the IRS for your coffee shop business. Once you do this, you will want to open up a bank account.

As we mentioned previously, a bank account will be essential for helping you to separate your personal finances with that of your business money. You might have a local credit union or bank that you are familiar with, but we always recommend that you get a bank account that is not only convenient, has a robust online banking service, but also has few monthly fees.

Some banks love charging more money for less services. For example, it’s easy to pay $250 or more annually for the simple benefit of letting those banks use your money. Consider your options but open your bank account with your business name and EIN number. 

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Step 24: Choose Your Coffee Shop Equipment

Assuming that your menu is finalized and that you have secured your physical location wrapped up, you will want to now look at obtaining your coffee shop equipment.

Coffee equipment can range from your espresso machine and coffee grinders to small wares and refrigerators (and everything in between).

There is no doubt that your coffee equipment can and will put a significant dent in your budget, so plan ahead. The best way to save money is to spend time learning about the coffee equipment (and other supplies) before you buy.

Take the time to determine what equipment you truly need to deliver your coffee, in the manner which best aligns with your business concept. Seek the advice of current business owners or roasters. Ask them questions. Embed that information into your business and budgetary plans.

Like many other important topics when it comes to starting a coffee shop, we offer a great audio interview on the subject of coffee shop equipment that you will probably want to hear before you spend any money.

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Step 25:  Establish a date for opening your coffee shop

Setting up your coffee shop requires you to come to a point where you are ready to choose an opening date. You want to make the date realistic, but at the same time, you will want a date that will keep enough pressure on you to move your coffee business forward every day.

Setting a date for your coffee shop launch, provides you with a little bit of that push that you might need. Establishing an opening date also helps when you are speaking, dealing, and negotiating with other potential stakeholders. For your coffee shop business startups, this would include property managers, vendors, coffee equipment people, and others who all want to know your approximate deadlines such as health department officials, building inspectors, electricians, etc.

While this step is listed among the last of the steps here, you may want to move it up depending on your situation.

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Step 26: Plan out your Promotional Efforts

Build it and they will come? Probably the worst business advice ever. While many independent coffee shop owners don’t invest too much effort in promoting their business, it’s definitely worth it. Reach out to other businesses, local organizations, and neighbors in a proactive way.

Host a “Grind” Opening to get people excited about your new business. Have fun with it. Setting up your coffee shop business will benefit from your promotional and marketing efforts that don’t necessarily need to be expensive.

In the meantime, you may want to get your coffee shop website started (see our previous post here) so that you can build your branding and social media following. Additionally, you will slowly garner local support that you will want as you hold your grand opening.

In our Coffee Shop Startup Kit, you will find hours of interviews with coffee business experts and coffee shop owners. Additionally, you will find extra resources including a special marketing and promotional section for your coffee shop.


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Step 27: Hire great people: interviewing baristas

When you open a coffee shop, you will most likely open with the help of at least some staff. Hiring the right baristas will be important. The average coffee shop business owner might put off hiring baristas as the very “last thing” to do before their opening day.

This isn’t a great idea! Instead, I recommend that you start early as possible and choose your baristas wisely. If you don’t know where to begin, get to know other baristas at other coffee shops. You may also meet them at coffee or “latte throw downs” – or unofficial barista events.  Baristas often “guest pour” at other coffee shops to make extra money.

If you live in a small town, start off by holding interviews long before you open. Be open to hiring baristas with less experience, if their personality matches your company’s culture. Personality is often better than someone who has a lot of pouring experience.

Previously, we’ve written a lot about the importance of hiring great baristas, so we will not overwhelm you here. But we will say it again: your hiring decisions will be among the most important things you will do when you set out to open your coffee shop business. So start early. Know what kind of assistance (skill set and personality) you’ll need.

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Step 28: Train, tweak, and torque your way through the process of setting up your coffee business

Running a coffee shop business requires a little finesse and a little muscle, but mostly just persistence.


The real work comes with planning for success.

If you go through each of these steps that I just listed, you’ll see that there are lots to do. But…don’t get overwhelmed, just take each step one at a time.

If you have already started to move forward on a few things that’s great! Take a moment to see how you can build on each of these. See where you need to tweak and make some natural changes to your plan. There will be times where you simply need to “will” things into existence. You will have to apply extra pressure that things get done. This is ok. This natural. This is sometimes needed.

As you move closer to your opening date, spend time training, reviewing, and educating yourself and your staff.  Train your baristas. Even if they have had training in the past or have extensive barista experience, it never hurts to have additional training to refresh skills, knowledge, and espresso machine maintenance. Training is not only beneficial for you and your staff, it also holds everyone more accountable to each other. Training your baristas is empowering, morale lifting, and worth it in the long run. In other words training builds a sense of teamwork and crafts a company culture.

Finally, be honest with yourself and determine where you will have to add a little pressure – and add a little torque – to your actions so that they can move forward with a little more purpose. All this is for one thing: moving you and your new coffee business closer to a successful grand opening.


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Step 29: Hold your grand opening

The moment has arrived to open your coffee shop to the world! Having a grand opening event (which can last a week!) will be an important and symbolic event for your coffee business.

We’ve discussed picking a date, which you will want to do. You will also want to reach out to local businesses, organizations, schools, churches, and neighbors to tell them drop by.

You may consider hosting a “soft opening” a couple of days beforehand so that you can see if your POS (Point of Sale system) works and that all the equipment functions just as it should.

My recommendation is you will also want to reach out to bloggers, local papers, TV stations, etc. Send them an email, press release, and follow them with your new social media profiles. Give them a couple of weeks to respond to you and be sure to follow up with them.


Review The Steps on How to Set Up Your Coffee Shop

Have I missed anything? I am sure that I have.

Every coffee business will be different from the next. Knowing this reality, you will want to make the necessary adjustments and additions to this list for your own business and pre-established coffee shop goals.

We've definitely written a lot more about how to start your coffee shop business previously. Just check out our coffee business startup blog.

You may want to seek the advice and help of others who have been already there. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to current and past owners for tips. It’s not realistic to think that you can possibly know everything and do everything effectively as possible without the help some mentorship.

Of course, we make this process a lot easier with our Coffee Shop Startup Kit (a full audio experience that you can stream anywhere). Our kit is packed with hours and hours of one-on-one interviews with coffee shop business owners and related business experts to help you develop, plan, and launch your business.

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