As you’re starting your coffee shop you’ve probably scouted around competing cafes and noticed that they have mission statements displayed in their cafes and/or on their websites. You’re probably wondering what your mission statement should be. Truth be told, we can’t give you a direct answer as cafes are individualized. However, we can give you the elements of a good mission statement to guide your thought process.
A good mission statement should have the following elements:
• It states your coffee shop’s purpose clearly and concisely.
• It tells your community what you’re about.
• It acknowledges your target audience while not alienating people outside of it.
• It points you and your employees where you want to go.
Why Have a Mission Statement at All?
You might wonder why you should go through the trouble of developing a mission statement when some probably won’t look at it. The fact that it’s good public relations is a valid reason to have one on its own. After all, a company stating why they’re in business can help attract some customers as well as support from investors and your community.
A mission statement also shapes your company culture. It guides the way your employees should act while they work for you. If you run a cafe that is geared towards women and your mission says that your cafe is designed to be a safe place for women, your employees know that they are expected to treat women with respect. Your mission statement also guides the decisions of your managers and business partners. For example, if you’re running a cafe that promises fair trade coffee, your people will make sure that the coffee they’re selling is fair trade,
Some days will be harder than others. There will be days that are slow and other days when your employees have to deal with belligerent customers. On those days, your mission statement will act as more than a P.R. Campaign. It will act as a North Star.
Stating Your Purpose
A mission statement is your company’s identity. When someone who has never heard of your cafe before looks at it on your website or social media, they should be able to know what your company is about. When you’re presenting proposals to investors, your mission statement should be easy enough to understand that you can explain it on the first PowerPoint slide and get on with the meeting.
Your mission statement must be specific. If your mission statement is too vague or unfocused, no one will know what precisely it is you do or why you do it. It becomes little more than a platitude that means nothing to you, your employees, or your customers.
To help guide you, we’ll be using mission statements from other coffee shops. Some of these will be the mission statements of major coffee chains like Starbucks as well some niche coffee shops in different places from around the country.
If you look at the mission statements of other coffee shops, you’ll notice that they tend to be short. Short enough to fit in a Tweet or at the absolute most, two Tweets. The words are simple enough for even a child to understand. Take Starbucks’ Mission Statement for example:
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
This mission statement is 19 words and 97 characters long. It is short and tells the customer what Starbucks is about in words everyone can understand. It is easy for an employee to recite if someone were to come in and ask what the mission of Starbucks is. That is the sort of answer you would want to give to prospective investors. But there is still more to learn from Starbucks’ mission statement.
Talking to Your Community
Note how Starbucks doesn’t mention its name in the mission statement at all. It talks about “the neighborhood.” Starbucks focuses on the local community for a reason. Most coffee shops primarily serve the surrounding community. Chances are that your cafe won’t be getting a lot of business from people outside your local area so you must consider the values of the locals when crafting your mission statement.
When crafting your mission statement, you should look around at the people in the area. What do they value as people? What things motivate them to go to certain popular establishments?
Don’t just look at your community before crafting your mission statement. Engage with them. Speak with them on social media. Go to community gatherings. To draw your mission statement, you will need to know the people you’re serving and what they want to get out of your shop. This will have the added benefit of increasing your publicity before launch and developing a good rapport with the people and organizations around you.
• Tell the community what you’re about
Brevity is one way of a mission statement. However, as long you stay on topic without getting vague, you can afford to be a little wordier and it could work to your advantage. Let’s look at the mission statement of another coffee chain, Dunkin’ Donuts:
“To be the leading provider of the wide range delicious beverages & baked products around the kingdom in a convenient, relaxed, friendly environment that ensures the highest level of quality product and best value for money.”
Even though this mission statement is longer than Starbucks’, it does a good job of telling the community what its mission is: Serving food. It stays focused on its core mission of providing food, rather than using a bunch of flowery languages that mean very little to someone who has never been to a Dunkin’ Donuts before.
Some may go short like Dunkin’ or long Starbucks. It just has to be simple.
Learn more about naming your coffee shop HERE.
Acknowledging Your Target Audience
The thing about Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts is that they have a significant portion of the coffee-drinking market. Fast food and convenience stores also have a significant portion. This is why their mission statements can be boiled down to “We serve coffee.”
While some small cafe owners will try to get in the general market by trying to get as broad of an appeal as possible and may see some success, others try to go for a niche that makes their cafe unique. This approach has its risks (you should always make sure that there’s a large enough audience to sustain your business). However, it’s not impossible and can have its rewards. But to run a niche coffee shop, you need to address your niche to tell them that the cafe is geared towards them. You must also not alienate people outside that niche.
Bonus Round is a cafe in Chicago that is aimed at people who like playing board games. Let’s look at their mission statement:
“Our mission at Bonus Round is to be a welcoming environment for everyone to explore the world of modern board games without fear of judgment for who they are or what their experience level is with board games.”
As we can see it states that the primary audience is people who like board games. It also welcomes curious people. By expressing that they are promoting a non-judgmental atmosphere to people of all skill levels, they are inviting people who have never been to a board game cafe. This is important as it expands their reach into the local community. This statement is a good model for cafes geared towards a specific audience.
Guiding your cafe where you want it to go
An important role of the mission statement is to chart a course into the future. The only constant in life changes. By using your mission statement, you can navigate these changes as your life and cafe change. Your mission statement can also inspire you to create new things or have new events to draw in new customers. For example, a cafe owner that has a mission dedicated to promoting art may want to have an art show showcasing art made by people made in the community. That generates interest, goodwill, and sales.
Choosing a mission statement may seem like a small thing. When it comes to running the business, it is often the small things that matter. So take the time to think over what you want your mission to be.
Frequently Asked Questions
There can be in the days of social media where word of a bad deed can spread in mere hours. If you’re promising to hire disabled people as part of your mission but you don’t, you would lose credibility in your community.
While both of these statements are similar, there is a key difference. A mission statement is about what you want to do in the present. A vision statement is what you want to do in the future. A mission statement would be “To sell the best coffee in town.” A vision statement would go beyond that to “Sell the best coffee in the state.”
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!