How to Open a Coffee Shop in Illinois

Illinois welcome sign

If you want to learn how to open a coffee shop in Illinois, you’ve come to the right place!

You don’t have to do it alone – or pay hefty franchise or coffee school fees.

Instead, learn how to start a prosperous coffee business in Illinois through our proven 7 Steps to Coffee Shop Success process.

Why listen to our advice? We have decades of coffee industry experience since our founder started roasting coffee in 1991. Over three decades, we’ve won major awards, including Roast magazine’s 2016 Macro Roaster of the Year.

Plus, our experienced coffee shop startup consultants have helped six Illinois entrepreneurs open and grow their independent coffee shops.

Owners of shops in Illinois cities and towns –including Alton, Carlinville, Dowell, Jonesboro, Murphysboro, Norris City and Sandwich – have learned how to open a coffee shop through our 7 Steps to Success coffee shop startup program.

Through our program, we can help you develop a strong coffee shop business plan  and provide insight into coffee shop startup costs in your Illinois community.

As a one-stop shop for independent coffee shop owners, Crimson Cup can also help you find a terrific location, lay out your shop, hire and train staff, market your shop and more. You’ll also gain access to award-winning coffee and coffee shop products that will keep your customers coming back!

Keep reading to learn more or call 888-800-9224 now to connect with our coffee shop consulting team!

Illinois is a Terrific State to Open a Coffee Shop!

With only nine major coffee chain locations per 100,000 residents in Illinois, there’s plenty of opportunity to open and run a successful independent coffee shop in your local community.

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.

Considering that 62 percent of Americans drink coffee, averaging three cups per day, it’s safe to say there’s room for many more coffee shops in Illinois.

And, according to the National Coffee Association, coffee drinkers are flocking to espresso-based beverages brewed from high-quality beans. Consumption of cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas has increased by a staggering 50 percent since 2015, driven in part by strong popularity with 25-39-year-olds.

Small Illinois Cities and Towns Present Big Opportunities

Downtown area small town illinoisWith many counties in Illinois underserved by major coffee chains, it might pay to consider starting a coffee shop in a small city or town outside of major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Naperville and Springfield.

Many cities and towns in 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 Business

Startup graphic on Chicago skyineWith the 5th-largest economy in the USA, 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.

The First Stop Business Information Center offers business specialists to help guide you through applicable regulatory requirements as well as connect you with available resources for your business in Illinois.

The Illinois Small Business Development Centers also assist entrepreneurs who want to start or grow a business. Experienced business professionals offer management advice, financial analysis, marketing support and more.

Get a Head Start with Our Coffee Shop Startup Experts

Training a baristaAs 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.

Backed by over 30 years of specialty coffee know-how, our 7 Steps to Success program has taught hundreds of entrepreneurs in over 30 states how to open and run successful independent coffee shops. We love small businesses. We believe that small businesses build communities in ways that big businesses can’t and that being part of a community can be the most rewarding part of independent business ownership. To learn more about how members of our community became successful in their communities, check out our testimonials.

Illinois Coffee Shop Owners Recommend the 7 Steps to Success

Our 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 2021

team at cornerstone coffee house - norris city, illinoisConnecting 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 2021

Exterior of Angie's Sugar Buzz Bakery in Sandwich IllinoisAt 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?

7 Steps to Success coffee shop startup guide

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.