How to Open a Coffee Shop in North Carolina

Welcome to North Carolina sign

Want to learn how to open a coffee shop in North Carolina? 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 North Carolina through our proven 7 Steps to Coffee Shop Startup Success coffee shop startup program.

Why listen to our advice? Founded in 1991, our award-winning coffee company combines three decades of specialty coffee expertise with over two decades of coffee shop startup experience.

Our coffee shop startup consultants have helped 11 North Carolina entrepreneurs – and over 300 small business owners in 30 states – start their own coffee shops. Many of these shops still thrive five, 10, or 20 years later. And a growing number of our customers have opened several coffee shops.

Owners of shops in North Carolina cities and towns – including Asheville, Boiling Springs, Carolina Beach, China Grove, Garner, Goldsboro, Hampstead, Kannapolis, Lillington, Murphy and Wilson – have learned how to open a coffee shop through our 7 Steps to Success coffee shop startup program. And there are more on the way!

Our program can help you develop a strong coffee shop business plan and calculate coffee shop startup costs in your North Carolina community.

As a one-stop shop for independent coffee shop owners, Crimson Cup can 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!

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

North Carolina is a Terrific State to Open a Coffee Shop!

The Office Coffee & Wine Bar Southport North Carolian
The Office Coffee & Wine Bar in Southport, NC

North Carolina is an excellent choice for entrepreneurs looking to invest in an independent coffee business.

A thriving coffee culture, supportive communities, a vibrant economy and a favorable business environment make the Tar Heel State fertile ground for independent coffee shops.

And, with only nine major coffee chain locations per 100,000 residents in North Carolina, there’s plenty of opportunity for more independent coffee shops.

North Carolina ranks 40th in coffee shops per capita, according to a study by Zoma Sleep. The study counted 7,307 North Carolinians for every coffee shop in the Tar Heel 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 North Carolina.

And according to the National Coffee Association, coffee drinkers are flocking to espresso-based beverages brewed from high-quality beans.

Sales of cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas have increased by 50 percent since 2015, driven partly by solid popularity with 25-39-year-olds.

Small North Carolina Cities and Towns Present Big Opportunities

Town in North CarolinaMajor coffee chains underserve many counties in North Carolina. So you might consider starting a coffee shop outside the biggest metropolitan areas such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Durham, and Winston-Salem.

Does your city or town need an independent coffee shop? Many cities and towns in North Carolina’s 100 counties lack a gathering place where locals can get together over a cup of coffee.

Independent coffee shops provide the perfect environment for people to come together, relax and enjoy their favorite Cup of Joe or espresso drink.

A local coffeehouse also helps bring money into the local economy and creates jobs. This is especially important in rural areas with fewer employment options.

Read on to learn more about how to start a coffee shop in North Carolina.

North Carolina is Open for Small Business

Skyline of Charlotte, North CarolinaOpening a coffee shop in the Tar Heel state is a superb choice for coffee entrepreneurs!

North Carolina boasts a strong and diverse economy, making it an attractive place for business investments.

A business-friendly tax structure, with relatively low corporate taxes, gives entrepreneurs more financial flexibility to invest in their coffee shop ventures.

And Forbes magazine ranked the state first in the U.S. for ease of doing business. 

Home to over 800,000 small businesses, the State of North Carolina focuses on creating an environment where entrepreneurs can prosper.

The North Carolina Secretary of State’s website provides a wealth of resources covering business formation and operation.

This site assists small and medium North Carolina businesses with the following:

  • Starting a business.
  • Choosing a type of business and legal business structure (many coffee shops operate as sole proprietorships or limited liability corporations.)
  • Registering your business with the North Carolina Secretary of State.
  • Getting a business license and various other licenses and permits, including local health department licenses for food establishments.

The North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center also assists 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 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
  • Hands-on coffee shop training for your baristas
  • Marketing your shop to attract customers
  • Sourcing quality products for your coffee shop
  • 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.

North Carolina Coffee Shop Owners Recommend the 7 Steps to Success

Our coffee shop customers in North Carolina 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 a few of our North Carolina customers think about working with Crimson Cup.

Creek Coffee House in Lillington, North Carolina  Founded in 2012

Creek Coffee House Lilington North CarolinaOwner Chess Royal opened Creek Coffee House in August 2012. He created the coffeehouse as a comfortable hangout for students from nearby Campbell University.

The former insurance agent had always wanted to have his own business. After researching how to open a coffee shop, he settled on Crimson Cup as his coffee partner.

“I did some research online and tried a lot of different products,” he recalled. “Crimson Cup seemed the best way to go because we got the training and everything all in one.”

Students and other customers can get their java buzz with a menu of hot, cold and frozen espresso drinks, including cappuccinos, lattes and the ever-popular Creek Mocha. Other menu favorites include frozen hot chocolate, fruit smoothies, chai lattes and hot and iced teas.

Comfortable seating and free Wi-Fi make Creek Coffee House the perfect place to hang out and study.

“The idea was for this place to be an extension of our home – that’s what makes us different,” Chess said. “I wanted the students to have a place to relax, to study and just hang out – if you want to read, come and read, and if you want to play some music, you can grab a guitar off the wall.”

Lorraine’s Coffee and Music, Garner, North Carolina – Founded in 2014

Lorraine's Coffee and Musicserves Crimson Cup Coffee & TeaBluegrass performer Lorraine Jordan opened Lorraine’s Coffee and Music in 2014.

A resident of Garner since 1984, she created an inviting space for neighbors to gather over awesome coffee and a varied musical menu ranging from bluegrass to jazz. A large stage and green room showcase musicians.

“I have played music on the road all over the country for twenty-three years,” she said when the shop opened. “Now, I want to come home and play in my backyard.”

Lorraine’s features a full menu of hot and cold espresso-based lattes, mochas, cappuccinos, drip coffee, smoothies and hot and iced tea, and locally baked pastries and sandwiches. A drive-thru window caters to coffee lovers on the go.

The professional musician learned the ins and outs of operating a thriving coffee house through our 7 Steps to Success coffee shop startup program.

Rare Bird Emporium, Murphy, North Carolina – Founded in 2020

Kate and Pav Templeton in front of Rare Bird EmporiumAt Rare Bird Emporium in Murphy, North Carolina, guests sip exceptional coffee and tea while browsing an eclectic collection of handmade gifts by local artisans – plus new, vintage and repurposed items.

After operating a gift shop called In with the Old for a few years, Owners Kate and Pav Templeton decided it was time for an upgrade. They remodeled a new location using repurposed materials such as a grain silo and wood from their old shop.

Their mission was to create a community gathering place for Cherokee County.

“After months of sheltering in place, we wanted our new store to be a safe place for people to feel comfortable and have conversations again,” Kate said. “Of course, nothing brings people together like coffee!”

Kate’s uncle Martin Mann suggested the new shop needed a beverage upgrade – offering specialty coffee drinks instead of self-serve java in air pots. The owner of Jitters Coffee House in Millersburg, Ohio, Martin recommended Crimson Cup, his long-time coffee partner.

The Templetons found Crimson Cup’s expertise invaluable in opening their business. “Coming from never having a business like this to creating a business plan and knowing that it was a proven concept reassured me we could do this,” Kate said.

Pav said he’d advised other owners to work with Crimson Cup from the beginning. “We didn’t end up saving money doing it ourselves, because we had to go back and redo a lot of things. There were mishaps we could have avoided by having their guidance from day one.”

Rare Bird Emporium invites guests into a unique coffee and shopping experience. “We pride ourselves on serving specialty coffee in a friendly environment,” Kate said. “Our goal is to support other local craftspeople and businesses through the sale of retail items. We love seeing people reading books, relaxing, enjoying a terrific coffee drink.”

The Vault Coffee and Pour House, Carolina Beach, North Carolina – Founded in 2022

Owners Jeff Hogan and Jenn Taylor pose with sign outside The Vault Coffee and Pour House in Carolina Beach, North CarolinaJeff Hogan and Jenn Taylor are passionate entrepreneurs who started The Vault Coffee and Pour House with a mission: bring quality coffee to Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Working with our coffee shop startup team, they opened the doors of their new venture in December 2022.

“Now Carolina Beach coffee lovers can enjoy great-tasting brews without ever having to leave town!” Jeff said.

Before the shop’s opening, the closest drive-thru coffee house was eight miles away.

Serial entrepreneurs, Jeff and Jenn own several other local businesses, including Celtic Creamery Ice Cream, Hang Ten Grill, a tax service, three AT&T stores, two soccer stores and 30 rental properties.

“We saw an opportunity to bring terrific coffee to Carolina Beach,” Jenn said. “We loved the property and thought Carolina Beach needed both better coffee and a drive-thru.”

They forged ahead despite a lack of coffee industry experience. “I get a thrill from going into new businesses,” Jeff said. “It keeps my mind fresh!”

They discovered Crimson Cup while searching for a coffee partner and coffee business consultant.

7 Steps Trainer and Project Manager Steve Bayless helped the couple design The Vault, then traveled to Carolina Beach the week before its soft opening.

There, he taught Jeff, Jenn and their baristas to prepare drinks and run the coffee house, staying through the opening day to ensure everything ran well.

“The training has been very thorough,” Jeff said. “We had no idea how involved it was to learn how to make great drinks. In fact, the training reinforced why it was so important we selected Crimson Cup as our coffee partner.”

“Opening The Vault wouldn’t have been possible without Steve Bayless,” he added. “We could have watched a million YouTubes and it wouldn’t have been right.”

Ready to Start Your North Carolina Coffee Shop Journey?

7 Steps to Success coffee shop startup guide

Begin by reading the book that put hundreds of other coffee shop owners across the USA 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 opening and running a thriving coffee shop 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 in North Carolina?

We can help. Call 888-800-9224 to connect with our coffee shop startup consultants during regular business hours (Eastern time). 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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  • FAQ’s

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