Wondering why you should read this guide? Our team of experienced coffee shop startup consultants has successfully assisted over 300 entrepreneurs – including six from Illinois – in opening and growing their coffee shops. By following our roadmap, owners of shops in Alton, Carlinville, Dowell, Jonesboro, Murphysboro, Norris City, and Sandwich achieved their dreams of running flourishing coffee businesses. The 7 Steps are based on decades of coffee industry experience. Our coffee shop business consultants, who have owned and managed thriving cafes, can help you develop a strong coffee shop business plan and calculate coffee shop startup costs in your Illinois community.
Illinois is a Terrific State to Open a Coffee Shop!Illinois boasts a robust economy with plenty of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. And, with only nine major coffee chain locations per 100,000 residents, Ilinois offers plenty of opportunity to open and run a successful independent coffee shop. Illinois ranks 24th in coffee shops per capita, according to a study by Zoma Sleep. The study counted 5,979 Illinois residents for every coffee shop in the Prairie state. Over 62 percent of Americans drink coffee, averaging three cups per day. So it’s safe to say there’s room for many more coffee shops in Illinois. According to the National Coffee Association, coffee drinkers are flocking to specialty coffee: espresso-based beverages brewed from high-quality beans. Sales of cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas has increased by 50 percent since 2015, driven partly by strong popularity with 25-39-year-olds.
Small Illinois Cities and Towns Present Big OpportunitiesPeople who live in Illinois counties outside major metropolitan areas like Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville and Springfield often don’t live near major coffee chains. So starting a coffee shop in a smaller city or town can pay big benefits. Illinois‘ 102 counties lack a gathering place where locals can get together over a cup of coffee. Does your city or town need an independent coffee shop? Would you like to be the result that comes up when people in your part of Illinois search for “coffee near me?” Read on to learn more about how to start a coffee shop in Illinois.
Illinois is Open for Small BusinessWith the 5th-largest economy in the U.S., Illinois is a terrific place to open a coffee shop! Home to over 1.1 million small businesses, the State of Illinois focuses on creating an environment where entrepreneurs can prosper. You can find a wealth of resources covering business formation and operation on the State of Illinois government website. This website assists small and medium Illinois businesses with:
- Assessing the feasibility of starting a business
- Writing a business plan
- Choosing a legal business structure (many coffee shops operate as sole proprietorships or limited liability corporations.)
- Getting a business license and various other licenses and permits, including local health department licenses for food establishments.
Get a Head Start with Our Coffee Shop Startup ExpertsAs a coffee roaster and coffee business consultant, Crimson Cup believes our company only succeeds when our customers do. As a result, we support coffee shop owners at every step, from concept through opening day and beyond. A one-stop shop for independent coffee shops, Crimson Cup supplies award-winning coffee and industry-leading coffee shop equipment and supplies. Based on the book, Seven Steps to Success: A Common-Sense Guide to Succeed in Specialty Coffee by Crimson Cup Founder and President Greg Ubert, our program covers everything business owners need to run profitable coffee shops:
- Writing a sound business plan
- Choosing a terrific location
- Calculating startup and operating costs
- Designing an efficient shop layout
- Choosing an espresso machine and other coffee shop equipment
- Training your baristas
- Marketing your shop to attract customers
- And much more.
Illinois Coffee Shop Owners Recommend the 7 Steps to SuccessOur coffee shop customers in Illinois say they saved time and money and grew their coffee business faster by following our 7 Steps to Success. But don’t take our word for it. Hear what some of our Illinois customers think about working with Crimson Cup.
Cornerstone Coffee House – Norris City, Norris City, Illinois – Founded 2021Connecting friends, family, and community, one cup at a time – that’s the goal of Cornerstone Coffee House – Norris City, which opened in 2021 at 107 South Division Street in Norris City, Illinois. Owner Rachel Gray always wanted to open a coffee shop, but didn’t know how. Her earlier career included 16 years as a full-time public school teacher, with some waitressing on the side. “I loved the interaction in waitressing,” she recalled. “I needed my customers as much as they needed me.” An elderly man who had lost his wife became an inspiration. “He would come in every day, and I could see the improvement in his emotions through the daily interaction. “I learned it makes me happy to make other people happy. And what makes people happier than coffee?” With a goal of creating a community gathering place serving terrific espresso-based beverages, home-baked goodies and light lunches, Rachel began looking for a coffee partner. She was almost ready to sign with another company when Penny James, owner of Penny’s Perks in Dowell, Illinois, introduced her to Crimson Cup. “As a long-time Crimson Cup customer, Penny introduced us to the product and shared her experience,” Rachel said. “That’s what sold us. I loved the Friend2Farmer program, and the concept of coffee + community. “I also liked that Crimson Cup is a one stop shop for everything from amazing coffee to hands-on training and coffee business consulting.” With Crimson Cup’s guidance, she purchased a historic building in downtown Norris City. During building renovation, she and her team discovered several mementos of the town’s 150-year history tucked into walls and ceilings. 7 Steps Project Manager and Trainer Steve Bayless spent the week before the opening at Cornerstone training Gray and her baristas in drink preparation, customer service, store management and more. “I don’t think we could have done this without the training,” she said. “There’s so much to learn even with the training program. We would have wasted so much time and money without it!” Asked to give advice to other coffee shop entrepreneurs, Rachel said, “If it is in your heart, don’t let the fear keep you from doing it. Just have faith over fear and go for it.”
Angie’s Sugar Buzz Bakery, Sandwich, Illinois – Founded 2021At Angie’s Sugar Buzz Bakery, owner Angie Davis aims to serve the best donuts, cakes, muffins, cookies and other baked goods in Sandwich, Illinois. And, of course, the best coffee. “I always wanted to do a coffee shop like Central Perk from Friends that would bring our local community together over coffee,” she said. “There’s nothing better than a conversation over a sweet treat and a terrific cup of coffee!” After years of managing her aunt’s gas station, she bought the building at 1004 E. Church Street and transformed it into a bakery café in 2014. But, while Angie knew baking, she didn’t understand specialty coffee. After her first coffee supplier failed to help grow the business, she began looking for a better solution. “I needed a coffee partner who would hold my hands and walk me through the process,” she said. A referral led her to Crimson Cup. “Carol Laube, my morning baker, connected me to her cousin Penny James, who owns Penny’s Perks Coffee House in Dowell. Penny highly recommended Crimson Cup. “I’m very grateful it was not a franchise situation,” she said. “Crimson Cup has far exceeded my expectations.”
Asked what advice she has for those who are considering opening a coffee shop – or adding coffee to their existing bakery or café – Angie said, “Definitely go with Crimson Cup. Go Big or Go Home!” She said working with an established company with a proven, pre-built system has made growing her coffee business much easier. “They help with everything from recipes to equipment maintenance,” she said. “Just as important, they develop a close relationship with customers so we can work through any issues over the phone. “The referral from Carol’s cousin Penny was huge because it proved Crimson Cup partners with their customers for the long term,” she concluded.
Ready to Start Your Illinois Coffee Shop Journey?Begin by reading the book that put hundreds of other coffee shop owners on the road to success! Backed by a risk-free guarantee, Seven Steps to Success: A Common-Sense Guide to Succeed in Specialty Coffee lays out a map for creating a thriving business serving your local community. Inside the book, you’ll find a proven template for creating a solid coffee shop business plan, plus guidance on everything you need to get up and running.
Questions about opening a coffee shop? We’re here to help!Call 888-800-9224 to connect with our coffee shop consulting team during regular business hours. Nights and weekends, you’re welcome to fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within one business day.
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