Choosing Equipment for Opening a Coffee Shop

May 21, 2014
Espresso machine

Crates Coffee House Lake Orion MichiganOpening a coffee shop business can be a fun and exciting venture. Assuming that you have already taken care of the preliminary steps, including finding a great location and lining up funding, the next major step is purchasing coffee shop equipment.

Coffee-shop equipment offers the highest return on any investment in your business. The right equipment will help you prepare delicious, high-quality drinks that will wow your customers and keep them coming back for more.

Essential Equipment for Opening a Coffee Shop

Here’s a list of essential equipment for opening a coffee shop, along with a discussion of what makes each piece essential.

Espresso machines – After securing quality coffee beans from a trusted coffee roaster, an espresso machine is your most important investment.

People rarely come to coffee shops for plain, black coffee. They want lattes, cappuccinos and mochas. These espresso-based coffee drinks are what will drive your revenues – and all of them require a quality espresso machine.

We recommend you buy the best new espresso machine you can afford and learn all about its operation and maintenance.

Espresso coffee grinders – Your espresso machine won’t be good for much without the proper grind of quality coffee beans. When you grind coffee, the surface area increases to expose the oils and soluble particles that give the final cup its distinctive flavor. You need grounds of consistent size to produce consistently exceptional coffee.

Espresso grinders produce the ultra-fine grind required for espresso machines to work their magic. You will want to purchase at least two conical burr grinders – one for regular espresso beans, and a second for decaf. Make sure to set them to espresso grind.

One commercial coffee grinder – Espresso and latte drinkers will drive your coffee business in terms of revenue, but you’ve got to show some love for regular Joes who like their coffee plain and black.

Gourmet Airpot Coffee Brewer – Because you want to focus on espresso-based drinks, we recommend only one coffee brewer. Ideally, no more than 30 percent of your sales will involve regular drip coffee.

Commercial Blender – We recommend a high-quality, commercial blender with a cover for frozen espresso-based drinks. The cover noticeably decreases the noise.

Refrigerators – You’ll need a commercial, one- or two-door, under-the-counter refrigerator placed immediately under the espresso machine. And you’ll want an NSF-approved, commercial refrigerator in the back room to house extra milk.

Water – A cup of coffee consists of 98 percent water, so water quality is critical.  If your water has a high mineral content, your espresso machine will be ruined in less than a year. Test the quality of your water and, if necessary, purchase a filtration system.

Dishwasher – Your dishwashing solution is a critical piece of equipment for your coffee shop, whether it’s a commercial automatic dishwasher or a 15 year old kid named Josh with a three compartment sink. Sure, paper cups are great for to-go orders. But people enjoy drinking their café lattes out of real coffee mugs. You’ll also need to wash the rest of your coffee shop equipment throughout the day.

Credit card machine – These days, the majority of your customers may want to use credit cards, and it’s easier than ever to accept them. You can sign up for a merchant account and lease a credit-card machine, but it may be more economical to use a system such as PayPal or Square that enables you to read cards from an smart phone or tablet computer. Check out all your options before settling on a system.

Cash register – A point of sale (POS) cash register is imperative if you want to complete transactions for your customers while their coffee is still hot. Most POS cash registers feature easy-to-navigate touch-screen interfaces and can be updated frequently with new menu items and daily specials. Most of your staff will be able to use them efficiently after just a few days of training. Again, investigate economical tablet-based systems and traditional cash registers.

Where to Buy Equipment for Opening a Coffee Shop

Restaurant supply stores are the first place you should look to purchase your coffee shop equipment. Not only will you find all of your equipment in one stop, you’ll likely save some money too.

Never buy cheap or used equipment. Your customers will taste the difference if you buy cheap equipment, and it will likely fail at an inopportune time. Used equipment is even worse. It’s hard to tell how old the equipment is or how well it has been maintained, and there’s no warranty if it breaks down. You may lose any upfront money you save by buying cheap or used equipment several times over through lost sales when the equipment malfunctions.

Crimson Cup assists customers with equipment purchase and installation through our Seven Steps to Success coffee franchise alternative system. We also provide in-depth training that covers routine and preventive equipment maintenance.

Questions about coffee shop equipment? We’re here to help! Since 1991, we’ve help set up over 150 independent coffee shops in 30 states. Give us a call at 888-800-9224 or fill out this form, and we’ll be in touch.  

10 responses to “Choosing Equipment for Opening a Coffee Shop”

  1. We are in the beginning stages of opening a coffee house in our local small town. We’ve secured the location, but now are upfitting, plumbing, and attaining permits, etc. I am interested in the assistance you offer, as well as your products, and would first like to know what the cost is. This is a small establishment, 1200 sq ft area, and any assistance would be appreciated. Thanks.

  2. Hi, I want to open a small yogurt, health food coffee shop. I was wondering what the cost would be, for all the machinery.
    Thank you in advance
    Kind Regards
    Maria Skapinakis

  3. We are looking to open a coffee shop and would like help in finding the right equipment to purchase and laying out the space.

  4. Hello, I am converting my Post office and Stores into a coffee shop, I would like some advice on equipment etc and if possible a visit from a planner.

    Thank you.


  5. I am a retiring police officer thinking about opening a coffee shop…no…cops love coffee and I have family in Panama and Nicaragua and I love going to the coffee plantations in central America……I OWN a building on a US highway here in Texas, its been closed for years and im renovating now….I would love to hear from you guys how to do this and have fun and make money in that order… me anytime ..254-291-0903 Sgt Dave L

  6. Hello

    i would like to start a coffee shop in pottsville pa and I would like to get either you services or your suggestion
    thank you


  7. Am interested in opening a coffeehouse, it has been attempted twice in Beatrice Ne. But no success.
    Right know I sell at framers markets , produce and bath products that I make and also have been selling herbal teas that I make also.
    Thank you for your time.
    Rex Vitale

  8. Would like to open a unique, modern quality coffee shop in my home town and wanted to know which equipment I will need and how much it will cost!

  9. Hello,

    I am looking into opening a coffee shop. The shop would more in line with a kiosk type set up. It will be located inside a market. Therefore, things like water/sink hook-ups, seating, bathroom facilities, etc. will all be taken care of. I am looking for more information on the type of equipment needed to run a coffee stand. We would also like to provide frozen coffee drinks, smoothie options, gourmet teas, and fresh squeezed juice.

    Thanks for your time!

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