Having the right number of employees working in your coffee shop is essential to staying in business. If you don’t have enough employees, customers will start going somewhere else because they don’t have time to wait in slow service lines. And if you have too many employees, you’re paying people to stand around doing nothing and taking up space.
How many employees a coffee shop needs will depend on the size of the shop and the volume of customers you expect to serve.
A small coffee kiosk in a shopping center parking lot needs 1-3 employees as space will allow. Meanwhile, large chain coffee shops, like Starbucks, will staff 5-8 people per shift from their pool of 15-25 employees.
Besides the shop’s size and service volume, the number of coffee shop employees you will need considers several other factors. From the type of services, your coffee shop offers, to the menu and hours of operation, each aspect influences how many employees you should hire.
Factoring Your Number of Employees
To figure out how many employees your coffee shop will need, you must evaluate these three components of your business.
- How are you serving the customers of your shop?
- What are you serving them?
- Who does your coffee shop serve?
Type of Coffee Shop Services
How you serve your patrons will play a role in how many employees you will need to hire. Will your customers be expected to stand in line to order at the counter or will they be serviced by wait staff after being seated at a table? Does your coffee shop have a drive-thru window? Other types of services your coffee shop needs to consider include delivery and catering.
Does your coffee shop plan to offer a grab-and-go kind of environment or a sit-down and chill kind of vibe? Will you be providing a speedy service for the morning rush mobs and weekend team sports crowds? Or, perhaps indulge the freelancers and free spirits of the entrepreneurial world with a relaxed and casual environment catering to the creative mind.
Your coffee shop’s layout will set the stage for the type of service you can provide. With enough space and especially with a drive-thru, you could offer a quick service line and indoor seating. Creating a smooth traffic flow inside your coffee shop will increase profit potential by utilizing every opportunity to serve.
Complexity of Menu
Your beverage menu determines the types of coffee machines you’ll need as well as how many people it takes to man all the stations. Coffee is about convenience so if there are complicated recipes, make sure you have plenty of qualified baristas on hand. If your coffee shop has a more simplistic menu, you won’t need nearly as many highly skilled coffee preppers.
The complexity of your coffee shop’s menu includes the foods you plan to serve and how they’re prepared. Will you serve breakfast and lunch? Do you serve an a la carte menu or offer full meals? Does your menu require a special cook or pastry chef? How much room do you have for inventory?
Will you make everything in-house or order pre-packaged menu items? When choosing between the two options you must consider things such as supply concerns. In-house, you have control of inventory supply and creative flexibility. When relying on a vendor you risk running out of supply or the discontinuation of an item.
Demographics of Shops Location
Your coffee shop’s level of business will depend on both its location and the frequency of people traffic in the neighborhood. Your need for employees is going to be influenced by your hours of operation and knowing when peak busy times will occur. How many shifts there are in a workday will depend on how long you’re open and the length of each shift.
If your coffee shop is located in a small community with a slow trickle of customers throughout the day, you will only need a handful of employees. On the other hand, if your coffee shop is in a bustling metropolis with high traffic flow by car or on foot, you will have to hire a larger pool of employees to cover all your bases.
Added together, these three factors of how you serve, what it is, and who is buying will establish how many employee positions you need to fill. Be sure that you set clear expectations for each job in your coffee shop. Everyone has a specific role and needs to know implicitly what that role is to perform at their best.
Check out how to find a good location HERE.
Who’s Who in the Coffee Shop
Your typical coffee shop has three key employment positions that must be filled by highly qualified individuals. Each of these vital roles requires the employee to be on their game with a friendly personality and cool temper when under pressure. Coffee shop employees must be detail-oriented as well as great communicators.
General managers have the most important job in the coffee shop hierarchy. As a manager, you oversee the day-to-day operations of the shop. You are responsible for the hiring, training, and scheduling of the staff. Flexibility is essential as a manager to cover when an employee can’t work or doesn’t show up. Also, managers are typically responsible for maintaining inventory and purchase of products.
As a manager, you must be good at handling disgruntled employees while tending to upset customers. Keeping the peace within the shop is a common job for a manager. Adherence to the health and safety codes of food service also falls on the shoulders of the coffee shop manager. Small coffee shops may only need a single manager whereas large corporation coffee shops will have local, district, and regional managers working under an owner.
Baristas are the star of the coffee shop who train in the artistry of crafting a tailor-made cup of coffee. Roles include taking customers’ orders and working the register quickly and efficiently. This person is the face of your shop and needs to reflect the image of your business.
More than just a cashier handing out cups, a barista provides a listening ear for the customer needing to vent or share. They must have a welcoming and open demeanor that encourages and uplifts the spirit of your customers. Baristas should have a keen ability to read the customer’s mood and know when to be serious and empathic or jovial and amusing.
Baristas develop a rapport with the customers to help build brand loyalty. They need to be productive and polite to get the job done with a smile. Being able to generate sales without making the customer feel pressured is a valuable skill and an asset to a coffee shop’s bottom line.
A sharp mind is essential in fast-paced high-volume coffee shops. Baristas who can remember customers who visit frequently and learn complicated drink orders increase your shop’s success. They also serve as guardians of the shop being responsible for cleaning up workstations and restocking supplies each day.
Supplying your coffee shop with fresh-made pastries, bread, and brunch fare has its pros and cons. Staffing a skilled chef or baker will add to your operating costs. However, winning over customers with the sights and smells of culinary masterpieces will make it worth the extra effort.
A pastry chef works early, often beginning at pre-dawn hours, to prepare the day’s menu to be ready for when the doors open. Baking is an art as well as a science that relies on accuracy and timeliness. Having an in-house pastry chef gives you more flexibility in adjusting menu changes. A talented pastry chef will be able to work with you on product ideas that will complement your coffee shop’s style.
This category covers the coffee shop tasks that could be handled by the managers and baristas or can provide additional employment positions. Some jobs will require outsourcing to experts to handle big projects like marketing campaigns. Social media gurus are often hired by small shops to spice up their coffee shop’s image and presence online.
Your coffee shop needs a payroll specialist who knows how to handle taxing information. If your shop offers dine-in service, you may need for additional kitchen staff to handle clean-up and bussing tables. Cashiers at a grab-and-go station or a hostess at the door are great for larger, busy locations to guide the flow of traffic inside the shop.
Frequently Asked Questions
On average, a general manager of a coffee shop makes around $73,000 a year. Baristas are typically paid roughly $23,000 a year in salary. Kitchen staff like dishwashers can bring in about the same with $25,000 on average. Pastry chefs, on the other hand, make an astounding salary ranging from $48,000 to $80,000 a year.
Coffee drinks account for 75% of the sales revenue of a coffee shop. Food purchases contribute to 20% of sales. The remaining 5% of sales are in the form of make-at-home coffee beans and grounds as well as merchandise like mugs and collectibles.
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!