Choosing Equipment for Opening a Coffee Shop

August 27, 2023 (Published: May 21, 2014)
Espresso machine

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

Coffee shop equipment delivers the highest return of your coffee shop startup costs. 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 Starting 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.

An espresso machine at Crazy Llama Coffee in Webb City, Missouri.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 speciality coffee, like 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 before opening your coffee shop.

espresso coffee grinderEspresso 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 300 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.  


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