With the constantly changing demands of customers, people trying to open a successful coffee shop may be overwhelmed in trying to understand what their customers want.
Fortunately, the answer is somewhat simple:
Customers want a successful coffee shop to provide high-quality drinks and products and accommodating service and atmosphere. While quality gives the customers a reason to purchase the product, the accommodation ensures that the customers feel welcome and are more likely to return.
Before a coffee shop can accommodate its customers properly, it needs to focus on maintaining high quality. A coffee shop that has a clear vision and purpose ensures quality service that can be customized to a specific audience, as do a well-designed atmosphere and product.
Timeless Store with a Clear Vision
As mentioned before, a coffee shop should work towards achieving long-term quality rather than short-term quality. In this way, it reduces the costs of trying to keep updated with trends, and it appeals to a wider demographic.
One way to ensure long-term quality is planning a coffee store that is timeless yet takes a unique approach to create or serving the product. Because of its stability, a coffee shop that has a timeless feel as opposed to constantly chasing trends can have a strong focus and mission. This sense of direction and purpose appeals to potential customers.
To establish a clear vision, the coffee shop should choose what type of audience it aims to attract, which may include the following (please note that the audience may vary depending on the coffee shop’s location and focus):
- Younger people
As stated by Fit Small Businesses, people who are 25 to 34 are the ones most likely to go to coffee shops. Also, another article has found that 41-43% of those who are 18 to 24 drink one cup of coffee per day or more.
- Remote workers
Because of the close availability of food and coffee during long work periods, and because of the quiet atmosphere a coffee shop typically brings, remote workers tend to work in coffee shops.
Because of the casual atmosphere and higher affordability, couples tend to go on dates in coffee shops, especially those dating for the first time.
- Coffee enthusiasts
Although coffee enthusiasts may also invest in a French press and coffeemaker to use at home, they often visit coffee shops to learn about different types of coffee and the processes used to create them.
- People needing a quick in and out
For those who want a quick item to grab but are not a fan of the extra grease from fast-food restaurants, coffee shops are an appealing option (plus, the caffeine gives them more energy).
Once a coffee shop determines the audience it wants to appeal to, it can focus on serving that specific audience. Specific ways to create a store suitable to these audiences are described in the “Accommodation” section.
Once a coffee shop has established a clear direction, it needs to focus on providing a quality, calm atmosphere. This helps those in a rush to take a moment to breathe, results in longer and more relaxed conversations and encourages remote workers to stay and potentially buy more items throughout the day.
Some ways to improve the quality of the atmosphere include using dim lights, avoiding overly loud music, and focusing on comfort. To focus on comfort, the coffee shop may provide extra furniture items or even a quiet zone for those working or needing a moment to relax.
While customers certainly want an affordable price and investment into a good atmosphere, a high-quality coffee shop should not skimp on the most important part—the actual products. For example, the shop should invest in quality coffee beans. Also, the workers should be able to make the coffee from scratch and have proper training in how to make the coffee (available through several training programs). Although a coffee shop may not be able to invest in top-notch beans or have the time to hand-squeeze juice from an orange, it should find a good balance between quality and affordability.
Many customers want a successful coffee shop that provides services customized to them, so they feel that they are valued and are welcome to return.
Good Customer Service
For all audiences, a coffee shop should always provide good customer service. If a worker is too slow, disrespectful, or unable to fulfill orders properly, the customers will receive a poor first impression, which makes them less likely to enjoy the experience or return no matter how good the actual coffee is. Because of this, the staff needs to be properly trained to prepare products, work efficiently, and always give courteous responses to all customers.
To aid in this process, newer staff should be supervised by more experienced ones for the first few weeks. This allows them to understand how to cater to the specific coffee shop they are working for, along with covering any holes they had in their previous training.
Although a coffee shop should have a timeless appearance, it should also have some technology if it wishes to cater to younger people. While a coffee shop designed for younger people should not be overly trendy, it should also not be dated. For example, Wi-Fi access is something that will not become dated for a long time but is also attractive to a younger audience (along with remote workers).
Opportunity to Learn about the Product
Many coffee enthusiasts want to be aware of how the product is produced. Some of the things they may wonder about or ask include where the coffee comes from, how each type of coffee is made (in this case, coffee shops can give general facts rather than the entire recipe), and whether the products are sustainably sourced. Especially if the coffee shop is accommodating to younger audiences and remote workers, it should have a website explaining these things (possibly with a newsletter subscription).
However, a coffee shop should not stop there. For example, it could have short facts about how the coffee is sustainably sourced in the actual coffee shop. It could also have some information about the process and ingredients used. Along with having a memorable, unique experience, the customers learn about other products offered, so they are likely to buy more.
Option for Quick Delivery
At the same time, however, a coffee shop may also have several customers who need to receive their order quickly. Unlike the people who are looking for Wi-Fi access or interested in learning about new products, they want a quick in and out. To cater to this audience, a coffee shop could include an “express line” that customers can go through for a small percentage increase in the price of their order. Also, coffee shops can provide an option where customers are allowed to order ahead of time and receive priority pickup. This not only appeals to a variety of audiences but also helps the business earn more profit.
Check out which food items are the best to offer HERE.
Pickups and Deliveries
Along with accommodating those who need a quick in and out, pickups and deliveries are helpful to all audiences. Pickups aid busy families who want to enjoy family time without the stress of managing children in a restaurant, and deliveries are beneficial to remote workers who want to stay at home.
This is one of the most helpful things a coffee shop can do to attract its desired audience. Non-beverage items such as sandwiches, soups, and snacks allow customers to enjoy a meal without needing to go to another restaurant.
Providing non-beverage items is optimal for people who enjoy staying at a coffee shop for an extended period, such as remote workers and couples. Also, families are most likely to want a food product along with their beverage order. Finally, those who want a quick in and out may want to pick up a snack along the way.
Even if these groups did not initially plan to order food products, they are more likely to order something beyond one item once they see the items. Because they have more options, they are also more likely to become returning customers.
Speaking of more options, a coffee shop should also have variety within its actual beverages, so it can target a wider audience. This is important for any audience. For example, a coffee shop may provide some warm items, cooler items, noncaffeinated items, and specialty items.
However, coffee shops should avoid the pitfall of having too many items in one category. If there are too many options, such as 20 flavors of lattes, customers will end up feeling overwhelmed and less likely to purchase.
A good way to have a variety without overwhelming customers is through offering “extras” such as toppings. This will encourage customers to buy more and feel happier with a beverage that is customized to their preferences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Coffee shop owners should research the competition by looking at their websites or making a shop visit. Specifically, they should focus on their own coffee shop’s location to understand the strongest customer demand. During this research, they should note what components are missing to find a creative way to fill those gaps.
Also, coffee shop owners should listen to customer feedback.
As mentioned before, items should be mostly made from scratch. To do this, coffee shops will need to invest in equipment such as grinders, brewers, blenders, and a refrigerator (for specifics on what items should be purchased, check out Webstaurant Store).
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!