It could be argued that the United States runs on coffee. The United States is the world’s largest buyer of coffee, importing over 27 million bags in 2014. That was about a quarter of global coffee imports. Additionally, the United States retail value of the coffee market is just under $50 billion — specialty coffee accounts for 55% of the value share. So it’s no wonder that coffee shops continue to pop up — there’s always a market for them, especially as new innovations in coffee continue to crop up. Cold brew, draft coffees, and latte art are just some of the recent new coffee crazes that have emerged in the last year. And of course, a good old cup of drip coffee, a latte, or an espresso will always be popular stalwarts.
What Are the Essentials That I Need to Have In My Coffee Shop?
Most coffee shops have not only regular drip coffee, but an espresso machine that can make fancier drinks, like lattes, macchiatos, cappuccinos, Americanos, etc. This helps expand your menu options and hopefully revenue as well. At your most basic, you’ll need espresso beans, coffee beans, milk, ice, and water for your ingredients. Coffee filters, carafes, pitchers for milk, and sweetener holders, among other things are needed for storage.
The customers will need coffee cups (whether paper coffee cups or personalized disposable coffee cups), wooden stir sticks for coffee, milk (whole, skim, soy, etc.,), sweeteners (sugar, honey, agave, artificial sweeteners, etc.,), and lids.
You can get creative with branding when it comes to wooden stir sticks and the cups, which can help make your coffee shop stand out among the rest.
Who Prefers What?
About half the population (or 150 million Americans) will drink specialty coffees, like espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, and iced or cold coffees. Just 30% of the population drinks coffee only “occasionally” and coffee drinkers who drink black coffee are also in the minority (35%). The other 65% prefer sugar and/or cream in their cups of joe.
By paying attention to what their consumer base likes, independent coffee shops can run a successful business. Indeed, on average, they produce about $12 billion in annual sales. Generally, they sell just over 30% of espresso-based drinks, with brewed coffee accounting for the rest of their sales. Keep an eye out for what your demographic is like and adjust your menu accordingly.
How Can I Improve My Business?
Furthermore, know the best hours for your store. Around 65% of all coffee is bought (and drunk) in the morning around breakfast, 30% is drunk between meals, and the rest is drunk with other meals (an after-dinner cup of coffee, for example). Opening earlier and catching people with fresh, hot coffee on their way to work is a great way to boost sales. You may want to consider closing earlier, as people wind down their day and are looking for non-caffeinated beverages.
Having eco-friendly options like paper cups or wooden stir sticks can make you more popular in certain areas, as well as paying attention to recycling. Having a mix of disposable cups and cozy mugs can help service two different types of consumers — both those who want to grab and go, and those who are looking to settle in and stay for awhile with friends, or by themselves with a book or a laptop.
And, while trying new things is always positive and good for business, make sure you don’t stray too far from the basics. Those can make regular customers unhappy, especially if they can’t find their favorite drink on the menu anymore.
Offering WiFi and having public bathrooms can also help make you a place that people want to go. You may pay a bit more, but those services to the public are overall a positive.
From choosing wooden stir sticks versus plastic and chasing the latest trends, coffee shop owners have plenty to think about. However, by focusing on your demographic and their habits, you can supply a necessity to many and see your profits rise.