The Decisions You’ll Need to Make Before Starting a Coffee Drive Thru Stand – Successfully

The Decisions You’ll Need to Make Before Starting a Coffee Drive Thru Stand – Successfully

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Photo credit: Alfie Price

The Decisions You’ll Need to Make BEFORE Starting a Coffee Drive Thru Stand

Starting any business requires knowledge – even a smaller business like a coffee stand requires the owner to understand a variety of elements that generally aren’t familiar to the public or to an unfamiliar entrepreneur.

Here at, we’ve explored the topic at considerable length before – and each time discussing just a few elements at once, as they are all important.

Today, let’s focus on the “Coffee Stand” itself because it obviously plays a critical role in your coffee business. Obtaining the stand would seem easy, but there are a few questions that hang in the balance that you should consider first. Unless you already have a stand in your possession – or you can borrow a stand from a friend or family member, most new coffee stand owners will need to decide just how to get their stand.


The Question of Obtaining Your Coffee Drive Thru Stand

What came first – the chicken or the egg? More appropriately, what comes first: the location or the coffee drive-thru stand?

Purchasing a coffee stand or making a stand without a location in mind can have obvious benefits and drawbacks at the same time. On the other hand, having a location secured without an actual coffee stand, can also have its benefits. While we can’t make this decision for you, we’ll help you consider your options.

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Let’s consider the following:

Pros of Getting a Coffee Drive-Thru Stand Before The Location:

  • You’ve secured an important element in your coffee stand business
  • You can now look for locations that specifically tailor to the size and nature of your coffee stand
  • You will know whether or not you need plumbing


Cons of Getting a Coffee Drive-Thru Stand Before Your Location

  • Often, you will need to pay for storage until you find your perfect location – and sign your lease. (This can cost up to $300-$400 a month just to park it somewhere). How many months will it take you to find your location and sign your lease?
  • You might limit your options due to the inherent constraints given by your existing stand in order to find the right space – in the anticipated radius you wish to do business.
  • Your coffee stand might need to be physically altered or customized (costing money) to conform with existing location needs – or health department regulations. This might include plumbing or electrical wiring.


Getting The Location Before The Stand

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

Finding the “perfect” spot for your coffee sand can (may) be easier without the restrictions placed on you by already having a stand in hand. The emphasis is on the location and the needs that it will require can be studied and analysis (AKA Market Research). 

Approaching the property owner, researching the zoning laws, and developing your specific plan for this location can be done in a more cohesive manner. We like this idea because it allows you to base your decision on the location rather than physical stand itself.

Once you decide on a stand, you may approach a business owner but you may have to offer some type of consideration (AKA: money to essential “hold” your spot as you begin to obtain your coffee stand) and develop your business based specifically off of this location.

If your potential spot is in an obviously great location, you may have the possibility of other entrepreneurs vying for that piece of property. In other words, you could be running in a race without you realizing it.

Speaking to the owner or property manager should be done quickly – so that you can at least establish if the property is available.


Quick Note: We Recommend Starting Your Business Plan Before Going in Either Direction

Spending time developing your concept, fleshing out your vision, deciding on your menu, and determining your finances based on your needs should be your first step. While you might be able to complete your business plan before exploring a variety of locations and options for your coffee business – allowing yourself to wrestle with the business elements required to be addressed, will help give you a better perspective as you make these important decisions.


Making Your Drive Thru Stand Yourself

You may be great with hammer and you might also know a thing or two about plumbing and electrical, so why not build your own coffee stand? If you can purchase the materials and have a plan that is up to code, then it may be a viable option for you.

By building your own drive through stand, you could save thousands of dollars on labor and expenses. You do however, have to make sure the stand is up-to-code and you will have to make sure you have a place to build it out. Other factors which we have already discussed also come into play: do you have a location? Will you have water in a self-contained tank?



While other considerations are important, your coffee stand will have to be:

  • Up-to-code (Check with your city's building department)
  • Plumbed (for water intake and waste disposal) You can have a self-contained coffee drive thru stand
  • Be ready for electrical hookups
  • Be able to provide the space and elements you need to be successful


How to start a coffee stand

Photo Credit: TravelMarvel


Renting or Leasing Your Coffee Drive-thru Stand

There are regular opportunities to side-step purchasing your stand or building your stand outright. One of these options is to rent or lease your stand from someone. Some stand owners might also own the property the stand sits on, so your lease might incorporate the important elements you need: a location and a physical coffee stand.

Further, some equipment, signage, and commissary agreements might also be incorporated into the lease. Renting or leasing a stand with an opt-out agreement of some kind may be beneficial if you are just starting out – or have limited startup funds.

Negotiating a Coffee Stand Purchase

start a coffee stand businessAs you can see, a number of different options may exist for you obtain your coffee stand. All of these will need to be negotiated in a purchase or lease agreement.

Whether you buy (or lease) your stand through a broker, from a private party, etc., you should always have your sale down in writing.  Before purchasing your item, we recommend that you inspect it for the obvious signs of structural soundness.

For example, it may be a beautiful stand but if it has black mold on the floors and walls, you might want to take a pass. In addition, you want to make sure you understand what you're getting when you buy. Will you get the equipment and fixtures in the stand? When will you need to move the coffee stand from the current location (if necessary)? Will you be allowed to store it at that location until you are ready to move it to a prime spot?


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Coffee trailer. Source:

Take a Step Back and Use Common Sense

You might see a great coffee stand business opportunity – but then again, is it a great opportunity? What is the business really worth? I’ve seen some run-down coffee stand put on the market for $85,000 – nowhere near the actual value of the coffee stand or the business.

Use your common sense, take your time, understand what your business objectives are, and then proceed with some caution. But more importantly move forward with a greater sense of knowledge – buy a book at your local bookstore, or get our Coffee Shop Business Startup Kit. Whatever you do, go in prepared. By arming yourself with the knowledge and wisdom you’ll need, you will save yourself lots of money and frustration.



Don't Start Your Coffee Business Without our Coffee Shop Business Plan Kit:

Investing in knowing your business and understanding the process of opening up a successful coffee shop starts here, with our Coffee Shop Business Startup Kit. It's packed with our of audio interviews you'll want to hear about essential elements to any coffee business. It also comes with a Coffee Shop Business Plan Template.

This fully editable template allows you to start your coffee business planning right way. In addition, our kit comes with a full 360 page guide, a pricing strategy guide, a special marketing section, and worksheets. In fact, we know that this is the most comprehensive and affordable coffee business startup kit digitally available.

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