If you are seriously considering opening a coffee shop, you may be wondering just where to begin. Starting a new business can be scary. There are a thousand possibilities and a thousand and one worries. Loans, business plans, floor plans, menus…it can all feel a bit overwhelming.
Or maybe you already own a coffee shop and are dealing with low profits or a bad location, or you can’t find the right employees. Maybe you want to upgrade and you just don’t know how or where to begin. Those fresh ideas that flowed through your brain like the morning’s first cup of java have dried up and left you frustrated.
Wherever you are on your business journey, you may be looking for new ideas, a fresh perspective, and a little direction on where you should head next. Well, we’ve got you covered.
The 5 essential books for coffee shop owners are:
- How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee Espresso and Tea Shop by Elizabeth Godmsark
- Start and Run a Coffee Bar by Tom Matzen Marybeth Harrison
- Espresso! Starting and Running Your Own Specialty Coffee Business by Julie S. Huffaker and Joe Monaghan
- Wake Up and Smell the Profit by John Richardson and Hugh Gilmartin
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting and Running a Coffee Bar, by Linda Formicelli, W. Eric Martin, and Susan Gilbert.
If you don’t know where to start or need some fresh ideas on how to make your place better, these books are a fantastic resource.
1. How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso, and Tea Shop
By Elizabeth Godsmark
How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso, and Tea Shop is an intimately detailed business book that covers every step of opening a cafe, tea shop, or coffee kiosk.
This comprehensive study offers not only detailed instructions and examples but everything you may need from the inception of the idea of starting your shop to the daily grind of operating it.
The book comes with:
- Sample Business Forms – Practice writing up a sample business plan. See what sounds right for you and what doesn’t. Add, Erase, and re-add the words and phrases that best exemplify your plan.
With convenient instructions, you’ll learn just what a business plan should be and say. Then you’ll get to write your own until you land on the perfect plan for your business.
- Sample Leases – One of the most frustrating aspects of opening your own business is the inability to know just how the leasing process will work. Types of leases, conditions, and length can all be a mystery until the day you talk to a potential landlord.
With this practice lease, you can play around with different terms and lengths, adding and subtracting conditions until you understand the leasing process. Be prepared for the eventuality of leasing by going over these sample sheets until the mystery is resolved and you feel ready for whatever can be thrown at you.
- Sample Contracts – Once you understand the leasing process, you can experiment with these sample contracts. Covering multiple options will help you to be better prepared for setting the terms of a contract, and not just a leasing contract, but contracts with vendors and suppliers that you’ll need to provide you everyday materials.
Get to know the ins and outs of the business contract before you ever set foot in the arena.
- Planning Checklist and Worksheets – Be better prepared for all you are going to need to plan for to open up your shop. With this checklist, you can see where you stand in the planning department, what you are prepared for, and what you need to think more about.
The worksheets allow you to jot down every note, reminder, and idea to help you plan better in a detailed and structured way.
- Opening Checklist and Worksheets – Once the planning has been taken care of, the next step is the big one: opening. Use the included checklist to make sure that you’ve thought of everything you’ll need, and to guide you to what you haven’t thought of yet.
Use the worksheets to arrange your thoughts and to point you in the direction you need to go to open successfully.
- Day-to-Day Checklist and Worksheets – Once you’ve planned and opened, the real work begins. Plan how your day-to-day operations will run. With the checklist, you can be assured that you’ll be prepared for everything that you will need to do daily to keep your shop running.
Use the worksheets to maintain your schedule, clear away what’s unneeded, and keep your focus on where it needs to be every day to get the most out of your coffee shop.
How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso, and Tea Shop is filled with many more tips, guides, and worksheets, such as menu samples, coffee recipes, inventory lists, and building plans and layouts. It even includes a CD Rom with extra information about business plans. Detailed to the extreme, every owner of a coffee shop, and anyone thinking of making their way into that world should pick up a copy of this book.
2. Start and Run a Coffee Bar
By Tom Matzen and Marybeth Harrison
Start and Run a Coffee Bar is an informational guide to every aspect of opening your coffee shop. Noted by successful owners is perhaps the de facto guide into the coffee bar business, it is hailed as a book every coffee bar owner should read.
Tom Matzen and Marybeth Harrison are two coffee bar entrepreneurs who share their inside knowledge of all it takes to run a successful coffee shop. In this book, they answer such questions as:
- How Do I Prepare a Business Plan – Many entrepreneurs, whether experienced or first-timers miss the step of writing a business plan. As a result, many businesses fail to achieve the success they desire.
Here the authors cover why a business plan is so necessary for a successful business endeavor, and how to create a business plan that will prepare you for every step of your journey, from planning to day-to-day operations.
- What Should I look for When Choosing a Location – You may have heard that the key to successful consumer business is location, location, location. Well, the truth is, it’s even more important than that.
Over 70% of successful coffee bars are located in prime areas where people are likely to buy coffee. In this book, the authors explain what makes a location right for the coffee shop business, and where you may not want to open one.
- What Will It Cost to Get Started – The number one concern for most people thinking about opening a coffee shop is money. Namely, if they have enough capital that is needed for everything a good coffee bar entails. Here the authors explain in detail just what you’ll need for a successful open, and just how much it all costs.
- What Are the 11 Steps for WOW! Customer Service – Running a coffee bar is more than just location and equipment. Probably the most important aspect of the successful coffee business is its customer service.
Here you are given 11 steps that are sure to have your customers coming back for more, and telling all their friends about your shop.
Start and Run a Coffee Bar offers much more than just that though. It contains recipes, ideas on marketing, and even franchising information. With a masterful insight into all the ins and outs of running a coffee shop, every owner or prospective owner can benefit from this one.
3. Espresso! Starting and Running Your Own Specialty Coffee Business
By Julie S. Huffaker and Joe Monaghan
Based on the authors’ 25 years in the specialty coffee business, this informational guide covers from start to brew all that is needed for a successful specialty coffee business. Containing organizers to save time such as example leases and business forms, the goal of this book is to simplify the process of opening and running your coffee shop. In it, the authors explain:
- How to Start for as little as $15,000 – Containing helpful tips and tricks to be able to open a shop as cost-effectively as possible.
- How to Get the Best Financing Options – Teaching you what financing options are necessary and how to make the most out of the ones you choose.
- Market Your Business With Little or No Capital – Explains how to effectively market your coffee business for little to no cost.
- How to Hire and Manage the Right Personnel – Teaches you the ins and outs of the hiring process, and just how to manage your employees in such a way that gets the most out of them.
Espresso! Starting and Running Your Own Specialty Coffee Business is a practical A-Z guide for anyone who is thinking about opening a coffee shop of their own. It contains much more informational and important advice, guidance, and answers to questions you may never even have thought of yet. Anyone who wants to open a specialty coffee shop will find this one extremely helpful.
4. Wake Up and Smell the Profit
By John Richardson and Hugh Gilmartin
Colloquially known as “the coffee Yodas” John Richardson and Hugh Gilmartin distill a lifetime of experience into this short, easy-to-read guide to making the most out of your coffee business.
Wake Up and Smell the Profit is a collection of 52 guaranteed ways to make more in your coffee business. Presented as a “tip-a-week” guide, this book covers both small and large ideas for increasing your profit and making your coffee shop run more effectively.
It contains such practical advice as:
- Accept You Are Running a Business – As stated by the authors, “The number one issue that we deal with is clients who will not accept, either consciously or subconsciously, that they are running a business.”
The majority of coffee businesses fail because the owners put profits last. Here the authors explain that in any business, cash is king, and without that mindset, your business is likely to struggle or even fail.
- Don’t Be a Jerk Boss – While profits are key, attitude is everything. If you are focused on making money and neglect respectfully managing your employees, your business will suffer. Some owners let the power go to their heads, but being a jerk will cost them in the long run.
- Have a Plan to Increase Sales Per Visit – Repeat customers are what makes a coffee business, but if those customers only buy a cup of coffee each time they visit, profits will stagnate. Here the authors explain how to tempt your returning customers into trying other products and to get them to increase their purchases as they visit.
- Have Spotless Toilets – Not something you’ll find in every book, this tip focuses on the facilities you provide to the customer. Having a spotless restroom isn’t high on some businesses ‘ list of priorities, but it offers your customers a tangible window into how you conduct your business.
If you take the time and energy to make sure your bathrooms are clean, customers can assume you do just as much (or more) to ensure the quality of your kitchen and your products.
Wake Up and Smell the Profit is a great way to find ideas on just about every aspect of running a successful coffee business. It’s easy to read 52 guaranteed ways to increase profit make it readily digestible and implementable. Trying out one or two at a time will allow you to find what works for you and your shop, and just what brings the customers (and the money) in.
5. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting and Running a Coffee Bar
By Linda Formicelli, W. Eric Martin, and Susan Gilbert
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting and Running a Coffee Bar is a light-hearted, but informational, list of dos and don’ts for anyone thinking about opening their coffee shop. Gleaned from years of experience, the authors present an easily understood layout of everything that is needed to open and run a coffee business.
Organized with the beginner in mind, this book offers a place for any entrepreneur to start. Focusing on the little, but important, things gives the reader a glimpse into what life as a coffee bar owner is like day-to-day. Answering the questions that one might find themselves asking once they’ve opened provides critical insight into just what it means to own a coffee shop.
Some of these include:
- Menu Guide – One of the most difficult things about opening a coffee shop can be just what to put on the menu. If you’re going to be serving food (recommended), it gets even more complicated. The authors present here a simple guide to everything that you should have on your menu (and a few things you shouldn’t).
- Preparation of Specialty Coffee Drinks – More than likely, you’re going to be serving more than just plain coffee in your shop. These sections provide key tips on what type of specialty coffee customers like, and just what you’ll need to make them.
- Descriptions of Employee Manual/Handbook – If you’ve never run a coffee shop before, these sections present an invaluable tool to understanding just what having coffee shop employees will entail.
It provides a guide into some dos and don’ts about your prospective employee manual and handbook that can be just as important as who you choose to hire.
- How to Hire, and Fire – Once you’ve got an idea of what to expect from your employees, it’s time to find the right people for the job. These sections explain just how your hiring process should look, what type of people you should be seeking, and how to entice them to work for you.
It also offers tips on maintaining your employee relationship, disciplining employees, and how and when to fire an employee that just isn’t cutting it.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting and Running a Coffee Bar is an invaluable tool for any prospective coffee shop owner. Filled with practical, hard-won advice, it can envelop anyone into the wonderful, wacky, and sometimes unpredictable world of the coffee business. A must-have for anyone just starting to think about owning a coffee bar of their own.
Check out more tips HERE.
Bonus: Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time By Howard Schultz
The success of Starbucks is one of the most amazing the business world has ever seen. Starting with a single store on Seattle’s waterfront, it has grown into the largest coffee chain in the world. In Pour, Your Heart Into It, former CEO and chairman emeritus Howard Scultz illustrates the principles that have shaped the Starbucks phenomenal experience.
Sharing his wisdom, he explains with humor and light-heartedness how any aspiring entrepreneur can turn their passion into their business, without losing their principles in the process.
If you are that aspiring entrepreneur, or if you just want to hear from the man himself how he grew Starbucks into a household name, this book will surely provide you with the inside account. If you desire to own and run a successful coffee business, why not learn from the preeminent source in the coffee universe?
Coffee is now the largest food import in the United States. The growth of coffee shops across the nation, and the world, has been booming. If you are one of those owners, or if you want to be, these books will help guide you on every step of your journey, from planning to opening to increasing those sales.
Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and with these books, you should be able to find everything you need to know about opening a coffee shop of your own. We hope they’ll be just as helpful to you as they have been to millions of coffee enthusiasts the world over.
Frequently Asked Questions
You should be able to find all of these books, along with many more on the coffee business, and business in general, at any bookstore. They are also available through Amazon and other online retail outlets or online bookstores.
The price of these books ranges from $5.95 – $33.00 (the price for How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso, and Tea Shop includes the added CD Rom). Prices may vary throughout different outlets, but the average cost of these books (including the bonus book) is about $7.00, making them easily affordable to everyone.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!