You are ready to open your coffee shop, but you’ve run into a problem. How do you forecast your coffee shop’s sales?
Follow these 6 steps on how to forecast coffee shop sales.
Estimate how many coffee shop customers you have per day.
Turn these daily estimates into monthly coffee shop sales figures.
Project the coffee shop’s customer traffic and sales.
Forecast your coffee shop’s sales for the first 12 months.
Calculate the unit costs for each category on the coffee shop menu.
Layout the coffee shop forecast on an Excel spreadsheet.
Get ready to jump back into math class and have fun when you read this over!
1. Estimate How Many Coffee Shop Customers You Have Per Day
If you have not opened your coffee shop yet, this is going to take some estimation. Do some simple math to start. Take note of how many tables you have and how many seats are at each table. For example, if you have a larger coffee shop with 10 tables with 4 chairs at each one, then you have a seating capacity of 40 people.
When placing your tables and chairs, be sure that you are not going over the designated zoning capacity set forth by your local fire department, so that you are not fined if someone complains about it.
Once you have your seating capacity figured out, it’s time to do some critical thinking to determine how many coffees, meals, beverages, and desserts you will sell in an hour. Of course, like a coffee shop, most of your sales will be coffee. Now, mind you that not everyone likes coffee, but they will still come to a coffee shop for the atmosphere or because they love your other menu offerings.
For the sake of math purposes, let’s say that you have about 120 customers per hour during peak hours: 40 customers to meet the seating capacity and 80 customers that order to-go and/or drive-thru.
Let’s say about 60% of your orders include coffee beverages. So that’d be about 72 cups of coffee per hour.
Not everyone who comes in during lunchtime will order a lunch meal. However, you can estimate that maybe about 50% of your customers will want lunch with their coffee or other specialty beverage. This percentage can be lower or higher depending on the competition you have in the area that offers other lunch options.
Using the 50% example, 60 people will order lunch during the peak time for that meal.
As for desserts, you can project that maybe 33% of your hourly estimate of people serviced that about 40 people may want dessert with their coffee and/or lunch meal.
Other beverages such as bubble tea, specialty flavored tea, and fountain drinks could account for about 25% of the hourly customer traffic projection with roughly 30 ordered at peak hours.
Of course, these are only estimations based on the popularity of menu items in a coffee shop. Once you open your doors, you can make better estimates based on the history of customer traffic and sales projections.
When your project how many units of each menu item category that you will sell each hour, total up the projected units for the day. Some hours may be slower than others. The first hour that a coffee shop is open will be the busiest for people going to work for the first shift. Lunch hour will be busy as well. Project peak units being sold at these two highest traffic hours, then make the unit totals a little lower through the middle hours.
Here’s an example chart below of possible units that could be sold per hour based on the percentages explained above. Note that the exact number discussed above for each figure will be presented for the first hour of opening at 7am to 8am and during the peak lunch hour of 12pm to 1pm. Units will be lower in the middle hours to account for adjustments to customer traffic while most people are working the first shift.
2. Turn These Daily Estimates into Monthly Coffee Shop Sales Figures
Now that you have a general idea of your projected sales for each category on your menu, turn them into monthly sales figures. Start by estimating the number of units you will sell of each category in a week. Account for some days being lower in sales than others due to general customer traffic.
Say that your coffee shop is open 5 days per week, so that means you are open about 25 days each month. Your general cup of coffee averages $4 per cup. Lunch usually costs about $8. The average dessert may cost $2 each. Specialty tea beverages are $3 each.
Let’s round that 299 coffee units per day to 300 for easier math purposes. If you were to sell 300 cups of coffee per day, that would be 7,500 cups of coffee per month. However, you are not going to sell this exact amount every day.
When doing your sales projections for the month, knock off a good 300 to 500 units off each category’s unit total to get a better estimate of how much you could be selling based on days of differing customer traffic. So in this case, we will say that your coffee shop sells 7,000 cups of coffee per month.
Let’s say that you sell about 2,900 specialty tea beverages per month, 5,000 lunch meals a month, and 3,000 desserts per month.
In doing the math:
7,000 cups of coffee x $4 per cup= $28,000
2,900 cups of specialty tea x $3 per cup= $8,700
3,000 desserts x $2 per unit= $6,000
5,000 lunches x $8 per unit= $40,000
Grand total in one good month= $82,700
Now that’s like a big dream of a sales forecast! Shoot for this monthly sales projection as you build your foothold in the local coffee shop industry and gain favor and loyalty with your clients.
This was a hypothetical sales forecast to help you with creating your own. You can have a consultant, family member, friend, or future co-owner help you with your sales projections to be sure that they are credible and sensible for your coffee shop’s location and demographics of customer traffic.
3. Project the Coffee Shop’s Customer Traffic and Sales
As mentioned, not every month will have phenomenal sales in breaking $80,000. If you are in a higher traffic city and you are the only coffee shop for the next 10 miles in the central part of town, then this may well be very possible. However, note that the coffee shop industry is very competitive amongst franchise locations and small businesses.
To begin projecting customer traffic, sit in a local coffee shop nearby where you plan to open yours. Watch closely to see how many people come in through the door for one hour. If the coffee shop has a drive-thru, bring a friend along so that they can watch how many cars enter there in that one hour as well.
Total these numbers together and use this as your average for how many customers could come to your coffee shop in one hour. Make the number higher or lower based on meal rushes and slow periods during the day.
Coffee sales will stay regular as that product is the reason you are open for business. Breakfast or lunch meals, as well as desserts, could be a hit or miss based on the people coming into your coffee shop that day whether exclusive coffee drinkers or people also interested in a meal from your business if they did not bring a lunch from home for their work shift.
If you want to go the extra mile when you visit the local coffee shop to do the one-hour customer tally, have another friend analyze how many meals and desserts are ordered within that hour time frame, so that this can be used as an average for your sales projections, too.
4. Forecast Your Coffee Shop’s Sales for the First 12 Months
Once you have collected all of this data, it’s time to forecast your sales for the first 12 months. Your coffee sales may differ by a few dollars here and there based on customer traffic, but the meals and desserts could have a substantial difference in sales month to month based on desire amongst clients.
For example, people may order more desserts as comfort food in the winter, but there may be less of them ordered in the spring and summertime as people start watching what they eat to get into their “swimsuit bodies”.
5. Calculate the Unit Costs for Each Category on the Coffee Shop Menu
This is as simple as making a cost estimation of all the ingredients that go into each menu item category. For example, it could cost $1 to make a cup of general coffee, so for all the units of coffee you sell in one day (based on the projected daily cups above), it would cost $300 to make 300 cups of coffee per day.
If it’s only 50 cents cost per dessert, then you are only spending $70 per day to make and sell desserts at your coffee shop.
And so on for your other two categories. Be sure to do this unit cost calculation for all 12 months of your first year in business.
Learn how to run a successful coffee shop HERE.
6. Lay Out the Coffee Shop Forecast on an Excel Spreadsheet
To make the information more organized and easier to analyze, lay out all this information in an Excel spreadsheet. Make as many charts as you need to to organize all the information.
Go the extra mile by having the software create bar graphs or line graphs for you based on the informational charts you create from your sales forecast. If you are having trouble doing so, have a consultant or friend help you out!
Frequently Asked Questions
Projections do not have to be exact because they educated guesses based on what you know about your local coffee shop industry. As long as you use sound reasoning in your projections, investors will believe your methods.
Sign up for a Google Email (Gmail) account, and you will gain access to what’s called Google Drive. Once you go there, you can create a Google Sheets document that is also compatible with Microsoft Excel. When you create a Google Sheets document, you have the option to download it as a Microsoft Excel document for when you send it over to investors.
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!