Every coffee shop is different – from the shape, menu, decor, and even the amount of employees that work to help keep the business running. When opening a coffee shop, there’re many questions in demand of answering, one being how many employees does a Coffee Shop need? This is a question every owner of a coffee shop must ask themselves, and it may be a troubling one. There are many factors to take into consideration and, let’s face it, the duties of a coffee shop employee can be quite ambiguous.
A coffee shop needs on average five to ten employees. Here is a simple formula for hiring: take the number of employees you believe you would need for one business day, multiple that by two, and then add one or two more. This way, you have enough employees to keep the week running smoothly, allow employees wiggle room for sick days and covering shifts, and avoid over-hiring.
Within this article, I will be answering a series of questions that will, overall, help guide a coffee shop owner towards an answer that best suits them and their business. In this article I will be answering:
Why are employees so important
How many employees are necessary for a coffee shop
How should the employees be treated
What should the employee-employer relationship look like
By answering these questions, I hope that not only will you find the answer you are looking for, but understand why I’m suggesting the number of employees required to create and maintain a successful coffee shop. It is important to have a solid grip on every move made within the industry. It is a business, and there are tactics to set in motion.
So, first and foremost, why are employees so important? Employees are not just there to take orders and serve food, but are necessary to help the business run smoothly and sufficiently. Taking orders and serving customers is only a fraction of what employees do on any given workday. They also help open and close shops, restock, clean, and create a welcoming environment, just to name a few examples. Don’t underestimate the value of your employees. By understanding the importance of the employees and, more specifically, what role they play within the coffee house, now we can move on to answering how many employees does a coffee shop need.
So, the question remains, how many employees are necessary for a coffee shop? A coffee shop should need anywhere between five and ten employees. To be more exact, I put together a great equation for hiring: take the number of employees you believe you would need for one business day, multiple that by two, and then add one or two more. This way, you have enough employees to keep the week running smoothly, allow employees wiggle room for sick days and covering shifts, and avoid over-hiring.
There are many factors to take into consideration. If you’re running a smaller coffee shop, sticking to about five or so employees should suffice. However, if you’re running a bigger business, perhaps you want to take in more employees, closer to ten. It’s important to note that you want your employees to have the ability to cover for one another so your coffee shop never appears one short, however, you don’t want to over-hire so you can allow your employees equal working hours. However, it is important to not overthink this equation.
What is important is what feels natural. Ask yourself what responsibilities you already have and then how many employees do you feel comfortable adding to that list. It is your job, as the owner, to take responsibility for every employee hired. For example, if you’re running a bigger coffee shop, don’t over-hire just to take up space. Instead, ask yourself how many employees will allow your coffee shop to run smoothly and be achievable to look after.
Also, one other very important factor is how many employees you will be able to pay at least minimum wage without trouble. Every employee must receive a fair paycheck. Be sure to check your invoices and do the math, allowing yourself a solid idea of how many paychecks you’ll be able to give without any trouble.
Now that we’ve discussed why employees are important and how many employees should be hired, it is time to figure out how employees should be treated. Although this may seem like a simple question, coffee shop employees are typically underestimated and undervalued. Employees are the backbone of any coffee shop and they are vital for business. Coffee shop employees are there to help bring business to life and to produce the kind of energy and hospitality that every coffee shop desires to possess.
Treating an employee poorly will not only lead to an uncomfortable relationship but will impact the energy and attitude of the employee, which can, overall, affect their work and the business flow. If an employee is having trouble, instead of yelling at them or discouraging them in any way, try helping them. By taking this route, not only will this produce a healthy, happy working atmosphere, but it will also be a learning lesson for your employee so they don’t make the same mistakes.
Although there are times when firing an employee is unavoidable, try giving second chances. Everything is a learning experience, and it is important to acknowledge that no employee will come into work immediately knowing the ins and outs of the operation.
Last but not least, what should the employee-employer relationship look like? Like I said above, it is important to create a healthy, happy working atmosphere. Like most businesses, everyone should work as team players. Although there may be a power gap, it is important to remember that there’s no business without the employees and that they are there to help.
More barista tips HERE.
Reflecting on my own experience working in a cafe, I wish my employers were more open. To be more specific, I wish they were more available to help me when I was confused or were accepting suggestions. Running a business is like having a second family. This doesn’t mean you can’t fire an employee if they’re not working out, this just means giving employees the chance they deserve and helping them out because, most of the time, employees just need a little time and guidance, especially in the beginning.
This is why I say hiring more than ten employees for a single coffee shop is overkill. Over-hiring not only leads to an unfair share of work hours but can also be too big to handle. It is important to have individual relationships with each employee, ensuring them that not only are they important, but that you’re there to help guide them, which is the responsibility of any employer. With that being said, don’t forget your position as boss. That doesn’t mean to abuse your power, but to understand that there is more weight on your shoulders.
I’m not saying this to give any coffee shop owner reading this a sense of anxiety, but to fully reinforce the concept that the business and the employees helping the business are your responsibilities. There will come times when playing the boss role will be vital, and so don’t be afraid to take charge. For example, if an employee has a habit of slacking off, don’t be afraid to confront them and let them know that it is affecting their performance and business. Then, try giving them a task to do.
Remember, a coffee shop is not a one-man business. It is a business that can only run sufficiently with a group of employees, working together in harmony. No matter how big or small your coffee shop is or how many employees you decide to hire, the feeling of community with one another is vital. Be sure to check in with each employee and offer yourself if any of your employees are having trouble.
I hope this article has been very informative and has helped any employer come to a reasonable conclusion for their coffee shop. Again, don’t over-hire, be aware of the working environment at all times, and allow yourself to be open and available to all your employees. These three tips, which can also be turned into workplace mottos, will provide the functionality to any workplace, including and especially a coffee shop. Be sure to keep checking the blog for more coffee-business-related tips and tricks.
Frequently Asked Questions
After giving your employee a chance, and it’s still not working, it’s probably time to sit that employee down and to go your separate ways.
If an employee is getting negative reviews and you’re unsure you want to fire them just yet, sit them down and discuss what’s going on. Not only is this work experience for your employees, but also a learning experience.
If two or more employees seem to have trouble with each other, call them to the office and see what’s going on. It is utterly vital to keep the work environment under control and in peace. Try to come to an understanding. You can also begin to schedule them on different shifts.
To learn more on how to start your own coffee shop checkout my startup documents here
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!