How to Design a Coffee Shop: A Balanced Blend of Tips and Strategies

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Geri Mileva
September 18, 2023
Customers are ordering coffee drinks at a trendy, well-designed cofffee shop.

The booming coffee shop industry is a testament to the world's love for coffee. The current out-of-home coffee market's revenue is US$373.5 billion. Coffee's surging popularity drives this growth, along with the heightened demand for social spaces. Therefore, an effective coffee shop design is crucial for success in this competitive and expanding industry.

A well-designed coffee shop elevates the customer experience, boosts repeat business, and ultimately enhances profits. Whether you’re starting a coffee shop or redesigning an existing one, mastering coffee shop design principles gives you a competitive edge.

Coffee Shop Design: Selecting the Ideal Size

Determining the ideal size for your coffee shop is crucial before anything else. It should be on top of the list when crafting a coffee shop business plan. The right size depends on your coffee shop's location, target audience, and concept. A general guideline is to ensure ample space to serve customers comfortably, accommodate essential equipment, and allow staff traffic.

  • Small Size: Aim for 600 to 900 square feet, providing seating for 20 to 40 people. If food is on the menu, consider more space.
  • Medium Size: Plan for 1,000 to 1,750 square feet, accommodating 50 to 70 people. If you have an extensive kitchen or want extra seating, allocate more space.
  • Large Size: Go for 1,800 square feet or more, serving 80 or more customers. Additional space may be necessary for a sizable kitchen, ample seating, or event hosting.

To find the perfect size for your coffee shop, conduct a market analysis and craft a comprehensive business plan. This process will provide valuable insights into your target audience, competition, and financial requirements.

A cappuccino is the focal point in a well-designed coffee shop.

Coffee Shop Design: The Ideal Layout

An excellent coffee shop design begins with a well-thought-out layout. It should provide a warm welcome upon entry and feature straightforward, easy-to-read menus. Design it to serve customers efficiently, especially during busy periods.

In a coffee shop, there are essentially two areas: the front of the house for customers and the back for staff, with the counter as the divider. Each site has its specific requirements. For the front of the house, focus on the seating layout and customer flow. In the back of the house, consider staff movement and equipment placement.

Before designing the back of the house, it's vital to have your coffee shop's menu fleshed out. The menu size significantly impacts the size needed for the back-of-house space, especially regarding equipment.

Furthermore, design your coffee shop layout with careful consideration for your equipment. Failing to plan where your equipment goes could force you to compromise on quality, efficiency, and product standards. Starting over due to a poorly designed kitchen layout can be a costly mistake, especially if it doesn't accommodate essential equipment. These may include a premium espresso machine, a coffee shop POS system, or an elaborate coffee maker for serving high-quality gourmet coffee, which constitutes 59% of daily coffee consumption.

Here are five critical coffee shop design layout best practices to follow:

  • Utilize Vertical Space for Storage: Maximize vertical space for storage, including shelves for cups, coffee beans, and supplies. This keeps your counter clutter-free and maintains an organized appearance.
  • Create a Smooth Customer Flow: Plan your layout to guide customers seamlessly from the entrance to the menu, then to the counter, and finally to the pick-up area. This minimizes congestion and confusion.
  • Optimal Workspace for Efficiency: Ensure baristas have enough space for efficient work, including drink preparation, transactions, and cleaning.
  • Prioritize Accessibility: Ensure your coffee shop is accessible to all. Your coffee shop must have wheelchair access, readable menus, and easily movable furniture.
  • Balance Privacy and Social Spaces: Create zones catering to diverse customer needs. Offer communal and private seating options to accommodate social and focused experiences, attracting a broader customer base.

You should have a  good understanding of your brand, available space, and the necessary coffee shop equipment to create an efficient layout. Coffee shops have flexibility in their layouts, unlike restaurants with stricter guidelines. This freedom allows you to unleash your creativity in organizing your business space.

A trendy coffee shop is using vertical storage for efficiency in its coffee shop design.

Coffee Shop Design: Must-Have Elements

Furniture, lighting, and branding all contribute significantly to crafting a cozy and inviting coffee shop atmosphere. Let's break down their roles:


Match furniture with your brand and customer preferences. Comfy sofas create a relaxed atmosphere, while bar stools and communal tables encourage social interactions. Opt for inviting, cushioned chairs and sofas, avoiding uncomfortable options that discourage customers from staying. Provide diverse seating options like communal tables, cozy nooks, and bar seats for varied preferences, all while prioritizing durability and easy maintenance.


Lighting sets your coffee shop's mood. Opt for soft, indirect lighting to create a relaxing ambiance. Blend warm, soft lighting with bright, natural light for an energetic vibe. Having both options with adjustable settings is ideal. Ensure ample task lighting at tables and the service counter for customer comfort, including reading menus and working. 

Adjustable lighting caters to different needs throughout the day. Use accent lighting to highlight specific areas or decor elements like artwork, coffee displays, or branding, enhancing your shop's overall appeal.


Maintaining consistent branding in your coffee shop, including furniture, décor, and staff attire, creates a unified and inviting atmosphere. Select elements aligning with your brand's mission, vision, and values.

Integrate your brand into the design for a unique, memorable customer experience. Use consistent color schemes, well-placed logos, custom furniture, and even curated music choices. Branding cohesiveness aids customer recognition, boosts loyalty, and promotes return visits.

A man is drinking a coffee in a cafe with good design elements.

Coffee Shop Design: Crafting the Ideal Setting

Deciding the primary purpose of your coffee shop is crucial. Will it be a social hub or a workspace? This choice significantly shapes your design and layout. It caters to different customer needs and depends on your target audience and business goals.

If your coffee shop focuses on socializing, create a warm, inviting ambiance that promotes conversation. Use communal tables, comfy seating, and a layout that encourages mingling. Keep noise levels reasonable for easy conversation. Consider amenities like board games, books, or outdoor seating to enhance social interaction and customer engagement.

Alternatively, if your coffee shop is a workspace, cater to those seeking a quiet, productive space. Offer individual tables with power outlets, reliable Wi-Fi, and a quiet atmosphere. Ensure sufficient lighting for reading and laptop work. Minimize clutter and distractions. A loyalty or discount program for regular customers can attract and retain remote workers.

In practice, many coffee shops aim to serve both crowds by providing separate areas for socializing and working. This hybrid approach can broaden your customer base, but it requires thoughtful coffee shop design planning to ensure comfort for both types of customers.

A barista is preparing a cappuccino in a coffee shop with good design.

Final Touches for Coffee Shop Design

Creating a unique and inviting coffee shop is vital for success in the industry. Consider factors like size, layout, and design elements to thrive in this competitive market. Alongside top-notch coffee shop design, having efficient tools for your staff is essential. Explore Push's coffee shop workforce management software to streamline all of your people management tasks in one place. With Push, you can complete payroll and scheduling in less time than it takes to finish your morning coffee. Cheers to a better way of managing your coffee connoisseurs!

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September 2023


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