How To Open A Café: A Step-by-step Guide

You’ve made the decision to open your own cafe. It can be rewarding to open a coffee shop. You will be a great friend to hundreds. Your brighter mornings and less stressful afternoons will result. You will have more influence on society than you realize. It’s easy to open a coffee shop, but it can be difficult! This guide will show you how to open a cafe.


It takes both time and money to open a cafe. It is important to spend some time learning what it takes for a cafe to be a success. You can learn from other owners of coffee businesses and get their advice. This is where the fun begins: you will need to visit many cafes in order to gain insight into how your business should look. Think about what you can learn from other businesses, and how you can make your business stand out. Find out about your customers. What are their needs? What are their needs and wants? Which time of day is the busiest? It is important to know your customers so you can plan, create a menu and price points.


You have big ideas and a vision of how your cafe will look. You should write down your goals for the cafe, and the atmosphere you would like to create. To get an idea of how your cafe will look and what food it will serve, start collecting photos, menus, and design ideas. Your vision will help you to be consistent in your choices, whether it’s choosing a name, the decor, the menu, the food or the cup selection. You can’t please everyone. The secret to success in business is to truly understand the person you are designing it for.


It is tempting to skim the business plan. We hear the same comments: “It’s too hard “… “Who is going to read it “… are common complaints. The real value of a business plan is not in the final product, but the process. Writing a business plan will help you to understand your market and determine the financial numbers that you need in order for the business to succeed. The business plan will help you navigate each step of the development and management of your coffee shop and provide a roadmap for how to run and grow it.

Include these elements in your business plan

  • Summary: What this company stands for and how it will stand out.
  • Analyse of the local market: Who are your customers? Which are your competition?
  • Your team: What will you do for yourself? Which team are you hiring?
  • Marketing plan: What’s your point of differentiation? This is how you will communicate it.
  • What amount of cash is needed to get started, and where it’s coming.
  • Financial projections: Projected Profit & Loss, Cash Flow
  • Location and leasing strategy.

Although there are many things to consider, taking the time to plan for each aspect of your business can help you set yourself up for success.


The location is crucial to any cafe’s success. Spend some time exploring the area before you make a decision. You should pay attention to how many people are walking around on foot and how many parking spaces you have. Is it visible enough? Are there enough people passing by to support your cafe? What does the location imply in terms of demographics What are the favorite activities of the local community? Is it near other cafes, or your own little corner? You’ll be spending a lot time here so make sure to get to know the people. Understanding the details of the retail lease is important as they will impact your profitability and resale values. Before signing anything, it is a good idea to consult a retail lease lawyer.


A key element of business success is finding reliable, trustworthy suppliers. Depending on what type of cafe you are opening, the main suppliers will be coffee, milk and fresh produce. You will also need cups (paper or porcelain), napkins and tea stirrers, as well as syrups, sugar, and other supplies. Make a list of everything you need. Be as specific as possible. Although the list might seem daunting, getting to the bottom of things (from napkin holders to pastries) will help you be prepared for any eventuality. You can then start researching suppliers until you find the ones that you like and fit your business philosophy.


There are a few options when it comes to equipment sourcing:

  • You can buy equipment directly using your own money (or cash).
  • Silverchef and FlexiCommercial are two examples of providers that lease equipment.
  • Many cafes can borrow equipment from their coffee roaster to use as coffee equipment. It’s a little like having a phone plan.

A commercial blender, fridge, dishwasher, cash register, and other items will also be required. Make a list, and make sure to be as specific as possible. (Download our checklist to get a detailed list). These items may not be necessary immediately. Prioritise your needs and remember what’s next.


Your cafe’s design is key to attracting customers and keeping them coming back. Your target audience will determine the concept. Modern or retro? Retro? Sophisticated? Family-friendly? Health-focused? You should be health-focused. Don’t try and please everyone. Sticking to a single theme will create a stronger brand identity. Take into account signage, lighting, furniture, and storefront design. Both from the perspective of the customer and the employee, assess the efficiency of the layout. Is the barista able to work efficiently in the limited space? Is it possible for your staff to move quickly around the room? Customers will understand how to order at your coffee shop. It’s not cheap, but an interior designer can help you pull this off. An experienced designer can help you create a great environment and a smooth workflow.


Your cafe’s vision should be expressed in your menu. Every aspect of your cafe’s menu should be considered. This includes food options, design, fonts, pricing, and engaging descriptions. Consider your signature dish, and how it might influence the design of your menu. Do not try to please everyone — this is one of the biggest mistakes cafe owners make. You might end up with many items you don’t order. You should limit yourself to 10-12 great options that will impress everyone. Make sure you include vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Profitability is also important when creating a menu. Calculate the ingredients costs and margin for each item. To give you an idea of how to start, the ingredient costs should not exceed 35% of retail price (excluding GST).


Ask any cafe owner who has been in business for a while and they will tell you that finding and keeping great employees is their number one problem. It is common for people to start looking for skilled staff. My experience has taught me that attitude is more important than experience. While skills can be learned, attitudes are not as easy to acquire. You will need to have some experience, especially in the beginning stages. But, building a great team culture is only possible when you hire the right people. So make sure to put in the effort to find the right people for your company. We can assist with training and induction. You will need to know the tax, regulations and award system when hiring. Download our checklist to learn more.


You have the opportunity to build your network in the months and weeks before your cafe opens. Social media is your word of mouth. Use it to build your reputation. It is no secret that Instagram is a favorite platform of cafes. But it’s not just a platform for spreading the word. You should claim your Google Maps listing to make sure that you appear in local searches. Also, you might consider claiming your page for Tripadvisor and other review sites such as Tripadvisor to allow you to respond quickly. Online promotions should be personal, interactive, and engaging. To encourage sharing and engagement, use images and videos. Ask your customers to visit your page and follow it to receive updates, specials, and other offers.


It is an amazing achievement to open a cafe. This will be the start of an exciting adventure. Your ‘grand opening’ will be a great opportunity to showcase your hard work after months or years of preparation and staffing. This is a great way to establish long-lasting relationships and build trust with customers. It is important to plan ahead in order to hold a grand opening that is a success. You should ensure you have enough staff and be aware of any local events that may conflict with yours. You might consider a soft opening — this will allow you to get to grips with the basics before you officially open to the public. This is a great way for staff to be tested, to learn about the coffee shop’s atmosphere, and to work out any kinks. You can be your own boss and build new relationships with the community by opening your coffee shop. You’ll also enjoy sharing your passion for coffee, which is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

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