Have you ever dreamed about opening a coffee shop but wonder where the best location would be to open one? Now, finally, the time has come to make that dream a reality. But, before you can host that grand opening and invite customers to enjoy your delicious drinks, you are probably trying to figure out where the best location to start your coffee shop would be.
The best location to start a coffee shop is a high-traffic area in which people plan to spend more than just a brief few minutes. Locations in which people congregate—be it for work, study, socialization, or even errand-running—are ideal. Additionally, you’ll want an area that isn’t already saturated with coffee shops.
It is important to have a location with lots of vehicle traffic, however keep in mind without enough foot traffic, your café may not do very well.
Busy locations also need to match your particular style and niche. If your style is more for a young and hip crowd opening in an office focused downtown area may not be the best fit.
The vision you hold for your establishment is unique. For that reason, choosing the site that best reflects your vision and reaches your consumers is especially important. While being in a high-traffic area is key, let’s talk more specifically about some top locations that can make your dream business a profitable reality.
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Here are the Best Five Locations
You have chosen the locale of your soon-to-be coffee house. You have determined your theme and target customer, planned your menu, and chosen your preferred bean grinders, blenders, and toasters. Now, in order to maximize your client base, what specific location is best?
Whether you plan to have a grab-and-go philosophy or you prefer to be that “third place” for people looking to relax and socialize, one of these areas will surely suit your needs.
How many times have you rushed out the door needing just one more cup of coffee? Or stayed at the office late to finish a project? A business park can be a fantastic place for a coffee shop.
A business park can bring you a wealth of potential customers. You can satisfy that morning breakfast rush and provide some tasty lunch options as well. Not to mention, your shop will become a go-to for that essential midafternoon pick-me-up.
These office employees can keep your place busy all day long. And, don’t forget the added bonus of a business park location—you’ll have the option of keeping your weekends free too.
Shopping centers are another great location for your café.
Shoppers will look forward to the break you can provide during their shopping expedition. Malls and boutique shops are popular spots for social get-togethers as well. What place could be better than your cozy nook for friends to catch up and share their latest gossip?
Additionally, many of these shoppers will be contemplating a major purchase—a wedding gown, expensive furniture, or possibly a large appliance. A conversation over a cup of coffee always helps!
Train stations, subways, and bus stops are places where people often spend more time than anticipated. Travel delays happen; busses get missed; schedules change.
Your warm, relaxed environment—not to mention your savory snacks and sweet treats—will be a welcome retreat for worn-out travelers. And, even for those on a smoothly running timetable, your signature latte won’t go unnoticed.
Whether you’re located near an elementary school, a high school, or a university, these educational facilities can bring a wealth of visitors.
High school and college students will soon become regular customers. Perhaps they want a quiet area to study or a comfortable place to visit with friends; maybe your coffee shop simply offers a moment of peace and quiet to recharge. Regardless of their reason for stopping by, your welcoming setting will bring them back time and again.
And, yes, it’s true. Elementary school children are not your target demographic. However, that doesn’t mean proximity to a grade school is without advantages.
Many parents will want a convenient stop for a quick cup of coffee after dropping their children off. Others will appreciate a place to check in and get some work done while waiting for the finish of an after-school activity. And, by offering some kid-friendly snacks and drinks, you gain the added opportunity to serve as a venue for family outings.
Businesses That Provide While-You-Wait Services
When given the choice between sitting in an auto repair waiting room, or walking across the street to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee, I know what I would choose. And, I’m confident that most people would agree with that choice. Fresh, hot coffee always wins.
For that reason, locating your establishment near a mechanic, hair salon, or even a pet groomer is another opportunity to capitalize on nearby foot traffic. People who need to wait for a service to be completed will surely appreciate everything your coffee shop has to offer. Quick, convenient service and a cheerful environment can make the task of running errands much more pleasant.
Additional Considerations You Should Consider Before Opening Your Coffee Shop.
Once you have chosen the location for your shop, what other factors should you consider? How can you capitalize on your location and bring in the most business?
Many seemingly well-located businesses still fail to thrive. Often, a factor tied to the location itself can be to blame. While they may not be obvious at first glance, it is important to be aware of these details.
Maybe the parking lot is too small or the only exit leads to a left turn on a busy street; perhaps the building is set too far back to be noticed as people pass by. Is the surrounding traffic noisy and distracting? Is your sign visible from the street?
Any aspect that can be perceived as a deterrent may be enough to prevent a customer from patronizing your shop. It’s important to distinguish between the issues you can change and those that will hold you back.
The interior features of your shop can affect your business as well. Poor lighting, lack of universal accessibility, or insufficient seating are just some of the potential culprits. You’ll need to anticipate and meet your customer’s needs before they notice that something is missing and provide them with a comfortable, relaxing environment.
Finding the best location is the key. But it’s what you do within that location that will get you noticed and keep your customers coming back.
Many market areas are saturated with an abundance of coffee shops. And, statistically, 50-75% of new coffee shops fail within the first five years. (Source: Fabled Medium) For your business to prosper, you’ll need to find ways to stand out.
Developing a business plan that encompasses your shop’s unique culture and company values is fundamental. Niche services, such as specialty brewing techniques or a pet-friendly environment can also help. You might even consider providing a children’s play area or a room for hosting book clubs or community groups.
It is important to choose a location that matches your vision for your café’s style. If you want to offer a trendy hipster theme and feature Indie music artists, an urban downtown locale is arguably your best fit. If you’re planning a more subdued in-and-out location with minimal seating, you’re coffee house probably better suited for a business park environment.
Opening your coffee shop, though it may seem like a daunting task, can instead be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. Understanding your target market and finding the best location to reach them can bring you a fulfilling, successful business for many years.
What Geographic Area in the U.S. is Best for Starting a Coffee Shop?
Interestingly enough, smaller cities are the current prime location for a profitable café. And, this year’s leading cities all happen to be in the southern portion of the U.S. According to a study done by Small Business Trends, the top five locations for profitable coffee shops are: Laredo, TX Oklahoma City, OK Charlotte, NC Greensboro, NC Tulsa, OK
How Much Coffee Should I Expect to Sell in a Day?
Start My Coffee Shop cites a statistic from the National Coffee Association indicating that the average independent coffee shop sells between 200-300 cups of coffee per day. Large chains typically sell more than double that amount. These numbers vary by region, location, and type of shop, with more coffee sold in the Midwest and Northern states. But, as a rule, this average is a good guideline.
What Is the Best Time of Year to Open a Coffee Shop?
Coffee sales normally decline during the warmer summer months. The Seattle Times notes that January is statistically the slowest month for coffee shops. While it’s true that any day is a great day to open a coffee shop, for maximum profitability, the autumn months are best. The colorful leaves along with the chill in the air can be your greatest marketing ally.
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!