Coffeehouses: How to design a great coffee shop layout

Are you opening a new coffeehouse?  You know your beans, you’ve got a supply of flavored syrups, you’ve rented out a great coffee shop location, and now…you need to lay out your overall look and design.  Here are some pointers for your coffeehouse design.

Coffeehouse espresso1. Plan an efficient service area. When your guests walk through that door, you want them to instinctively know where they order their lattes.  Make your menu easy-to-spot and read, and always staff a friendly associate who can greet them, take their order, and process their payment quickly.  Also make it really obvious where your customer will wait for their order and where they’ll be picking it up at (usually the other end of the counter).  Great signage will aid in the customer’s overall ordering experience.  Think out the placement of your behind-the-counter equipment and supplies, so your coffee baristas are as efficient as possible.  Is there an area with napkins nearby?  What about hot cup sleeves?  While there are a lot of reasons why someone may walk into your coffee shop, everyone who does expects great and efficient service.

2.  Know your brand, and set the mood accordingly. Do you want to be the cheerful coffee shop business folk stop on their way to work to wake up every morning?  Do you want to offer a chill place for writers and creatives to come and spend hours doing work?  Do you want to be the social hangout for young coffee connoisseurs, or a great place for college students to come to study?  Maybe you are mom-friendly and targeting families with young kids along.  Choose what niche in the market you’re going to serve and know what mood you want to set for your coffee guzzling guests.  This is the most important part of choosing a design layout. It will also help you with your overall coffeehouse marketing once you launch.

3. Colors and lighting need to match the mood. If you’re aiming to be the spot people go to wake up, then you may want to try bright lighting against yellow or orange walls.  If you’re going for the laid back environment, you may want dimmer lights and darker burgundy and green walls for a more cozy feel.  Let your brand dictate the mood of your accessories and artwork, too.

4. Look at the space’s unique features. Do you have a fireplace?  How about a bay window?  Are you setting up a stage area for local musicians?  Or showing off some large screen TVs?  Where are your electrical outlets for guests to charge laptops?  Looking at the different areas or focal features of your particular room will help define where your guests will want to sit.  You will also need to decide where you will place your wireless router and if you want to offer free Wi-Fi that is unsecured or require a password.

5.  Choose the right furniture layout. Once you know what your mood is and have picked out all the unique features to your space, it’s time to shop for the right coffee shop seating for your new place!  Most coffeehouses choose a mixture of restaurant tables and chairs, along with lounge seating for a more comfortable feel.  We recommend setting up conversational clusters of furniture around your designated unique features, then filling in extra space with the tables and chairs.  For more variation, try mixing some high top bar tables with your standard tables.  While most coffee drinkers will need just a small 18″ or 24″ table top for their mug and muffin, don’t forget to use at least one or two large tables to accommodate business meetings or study groups in your place – maybe these are set toward the back or in an out-of-the-way section of the room.  By thinking about your seating in groups or clusters, you can provide separate areas to create a quiet coffeehouse vibe for people working on their computers but also offer a social space for groups of friends trying to catch up after a long day of work.  Once you have a layout in mind, consider the seating count and make sure it’s a number you like.  If you want fewer or more seats, then revise your plan until it’s just right.

6. Decide if you will offer outdoor seating. Sidewalk cafes are quite popular, so if you have the room and can get a permit, try adding some small outdoor tables to your overall design, or forgo the cafe tables and simply offer some relaxing Adirondack chairs.  These chairs have a wide enough arm to make sipping coffee and reading the morning news easy and comfortable.  Outdoor seating can increase the total number of people you can serve at a time and also create another cluster of seats to give your guests the great conversational space they’re looking for from their local coffee shop.

When designing your space, just ask yourself if you would be comfortable grabbing your morning espresso at your new place.  Most likely, if you get a great feeling walking through the doors, your guests will, too!

Coffee Cafes: A Hot Trend for Churches

A church buying up cafe table tops, bar stools, and dining chairs?  Yes, it does happen!

Building community and attracting new audiences are two very important objectives for many churches, regardless of denomination.  Many churches across the U. S. (and globally) have acted on a growing trend to help address these goals:  open a cafe or coffee house inside the church.  Depending on your church community’s own goals, a coffee house could also be a much-needed revenue stream for a declining membership or growing capital needs.

We live in a Starbucks world

Chances are, when your congregation walks out your chapel doors on Sunday morning, they are heading to the nearest Starbucks or local coffee house to get their fix before the rest of the day.  Or perhaps, they came to church holding their white to-go cup adorned with that famous green mermaid.  Younger generations, especially, feel comfortable in a cafe atmosphere and often include a weekly, if not daily, visit to a cafe or coffee house.  Bringing this atmosphere to a church can make the Sunday ritual a little less intimidating or threatening to some, and can offer a convenience factor to those coffee connoisseurs in your congregation.  If you’re reading this, you are probably already tasting your drink of choice – whether it’s a chilled frappuccino, a frothy cappuccino with your favorite flavor shot, or a bold cup of espresso.  Even tea drinkers find comfort at a cafe, and many serve up smoothies for those looking for a fruity taste instead (which is also a great kids’ choice for younger families).

Coffee hour can build community

Imagine your sermon ends, and people don’t rush out the door.  Instead, they chat with their neighbors over coffee in your narthex, or a church-run separate cafe.  Imagine Bible Study ends, but the conversation continues over a cappuccino or hot tea.  Imagine a pastor reaching out to get to know someone in his fellowship, and being able to offer a cup of joe in a relaxed atmosphere while trying to do so.  Having a resource of this kind inside your chapel’s walls can be a great boost to your own congregation and provide ample opportunities to bring people together and inspire people to truly connect.  Cut out the small talk about the weather and the “I’m good” automatic responses, and really get to know your church-goers a little better.

Integrating technology will modernize your church

Coffee houses don’t just sell coffee.  They have Wi-fi, promote new music, and keep people connected – in a more global way than previously mentioned.  To do a cafe right, you need to offer free Wi-fi to your customers, so they can bring in their laptops and surf the ‘net or do other work in the peacefulness a church cafe can inhabit.  You can also stream contemporary Christian hits and perhaps offer free downloads of your own choir’s musical performances.  At times, bring in local musicians to host live events and draw more customers.  If your church’s bookstore is flailing, consider linking up with an online book retailer to bring the great written copy onto someone’s Kindle or Nook.  (Coffee houses can also inspire people to sit down and actually open up that book they’ve been meaning to read, and could work well in conjunction with a church bookstore or lending library.)  If your church is too conservative to try to bring in modern elements to its sermon, a cafe can be a great extension of your services and attract a less-conservative crowd.  If you’re already breaking down barriers with A/V additions to your Sunday mornings, then a cafe will fit into your personality and be a smooth transition for your audience.

Sundays aren’t the only days people can come to church

Does your church have activities throughout the week?  Do you want to be more visible all week long?  Having open cafe hours can not only just attract outsiders for some coffee (and money for your church’s revenue stream), but it can be a great perk to your staff, volunteers, and people coming to church throughout the week for activities or private confessionals/prayers.  Many churches recommend hiring a few key staff who are responsible for the cafe, but others can operate it solely through the hands of volunteers.  Finding what works for you, your church, your goals, and your budget will be beneficial.

If you can envision a cafe in your church, already enjoy the aroma of the beans wafting through your chapel, hear the clink of coffee mugs and friendly conversation, and begin to see the benefits of how a church cafe could promote a happier congregation, attract new/younger church-goers, and boost your fundraising efforts, then we hope this article was helpful and wish you success in your exciting new venture!