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How to Open a Coffee Shop

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Many people can't imagine starting their day without a cup of coffee. Whether they grab it to go off a cart in the office lobby, zip through a drive-through along their commute or enjoy an unhurried weekend morning of people-watching and reading the newspaper, this business can brew a lot of success for a caffeine-savvy entrepreneur.

Determine the amount of money you can afford to spend. For instance, do you want to purchase an existing coffee shop, invest in a franchise or build a shop from scratch? As you plan to set up a business, decide if you plan to run the entire operation yourself or hire staff.

Learn about the industry before starting a new business. Start by taking a job as a barista in a coffee shop to learn the ropes, practice making different coffee drinks, and test if you have the right personality to handle the ebb and flow of clientele.

Develop a business plan that addresses the costs of purchasing or leasing a facility, buying and maintaining equipment and furnishings, acquiring a business license and appropriate insurance, and staying well stocked with coffee supplies (see Resources).

Talk with a loan officer at your bank about qualifying for a small business loan. A good credit score and a unique vision will be advantages in getting approval.

Identify a location for your coffee shop.

Research roaster vendors that will supply you with coffee beans and, in some cases, the machines for grinding and brewing. Ask if training is available for you and your staff.

Offer something different from your competition.

Develop a marketing plan to let people know you're open for business, including ads in local newspapers, flyers and business cards.

Network with local businesses. Offer discounts and coupons to their employees.


Investigate office complexes and make note of whether they have existing cafeterias or are located near any coffee shops. Query the management of the building with your proposal to offer something new for its tenants. If you have a sit-down coffee shop, invite local artists and musicians to be a part of your tableau. They'll also tell their friends about you.


If you have employees, you'll need to carry workers' comp.