Essential Guide to opening a Café

Drinking coffee is a part of many peoples daily routines. So the café industry is a sector that continues to see growth and will continue to rise with the demand for more local coffee houses.

Opening a café is something people dream about when they’re stuck in their cubicle at work, but often the reality of running a café doesn’t match the reality of it.  So like any major undertaking, you’ll need a plan that begins with your vision of what you want your business to be. 




The saying goes plan right or plan to fail, and in the café game this is essential.  Developing a detailed profile and plan on what you want your business to be like is crucial especially if you are applying for finance.  Look at how you want your venue to look physically, how you want it to be operationally, who you want your customers to be and what will they be doing at your venue.

As tedious as this step may sound, it’s actually a good thing.  Planning will help you with the true reality of your venture from location to offerings and will force you to consider the financial angle. 

A detailed business is a great guide that can help you through the process of setting up and stocking your entire store. 


It’s a cliche term but something that needs heavy consideration in the café industry is Location, Location, Location.  Finding the right location is an extremely important factor in ensuring your future venues success. 

Some key points to look for in a location include.

  • High foot Traffic - Making sure that a large volume of the traffic passing by is the right demographic to your business style.
  • Proximity to other businesses
  • Accessibility - Checking that car parking is ample
  • Affordable monthly rent
  • Infrastructure and ammenities.  Checking that plumbing and electrical is either existing or can be created especially for your venue design. 

Taking over a lease on an already established coffee shop can also be a beneficial idea, as long as it is in a great location. It would help make the process quicker as the plumbing and utilities are already existing.

Spending a decent amount of time on location research is crucial as it does play an integral role in the success of your business. 


Obtaining Permits & Licences

Before you can take any more steps in the process you have to register your business with the government.  These steps vary depending on your venue plan and location. 

To serve food within your café you will have to obtain a Food Business Licence, which means you will have to meet the food and safety standards of your local council.  Read more here **Add link**


When setting up your new business a supply chain is essential. 

Just for starters, you will need to decide what kind of coffee you will range, where to get it from, and what varieties you will offer.  Coffee choice is a large decision in ensuring that your café is a hit!

Budget plays a huge role in this initial choice, if you choose to spend extra on high quality coffee beans you may draw a wider customer range but it will make your initial start up costs higher. 

The same rule applies to any other product your choose for your cafe to sell. 



The equipment needed to run a café is a huge expense in your start up.  Here is a list of some hardware you will need to begin operations at your new coffee shop:

  • Coffee Machine
  • Coffee Grinders
  • Refrigeration and Freezers
  • Milk storage options
  • Food service containers
  • Cooking devices - ovens etc
  • Blenders and Juicers
  • Storage and shelving
  • Furniture
  • Consumables
  • POS system

The cost of all the equipment needed for start up can add up extremely fast, so a way to not skimp on the quality of products you can afford is to search for second hand items. 

Definitely do not think about skimping on the quality of your key items like Coffee machine and particularly your POS.  A powerful POS system allows for fast, efficient operations and can provide you, the café owner, valuable insights into business operations. 

Choosing the right Staff

Since a coffee shop is a service based business, choosing the right staff is another crucial decision.  Bad service can mean doom for your venue, even when your products are of a high quality. 

Choose employees that are:

  • Friendly and outgoing
  • Experienced in the industry
  • Passionate and knowledgeable
  • Reliable

Although finding the perfect employee for your shop can be hard, it is worth taking the time to do so.  Good service will make or break your venue, so do not rush your decisions. 

Don’t underestimate marketing/promotion

Once you have made it through all the previous steps, you are almost ready to open.  So now is the time to begin marketing and promoting your venue.  The importance of getting the name of your business out there is crucial, you need customers to know where you are, what you offer and that your doors are open.

Some things to think about:

  • Create your own social media, start it early and update it often with the venues progress. Create hype around your opening.
  • Contact local media to promote through
  • Signage for your store front
  • Free samples (especially in high foot traffic locations)
  • Customer Loyalty Programs
  • Local social media influencers  to promote your cafe

Marketing and promoting your coffee shop is a way to build a loyal customer following which will ensure you are well on your way to running a successful, profitable business. 

A guideline for success

Whether you are in the middle of opening a café or just interested in the process, use the above checklist as a basic guide to understand what is involved in opening a hospitality business.

Starting a business is always risky, there is no guarantee that you will succeed.  But being well prepared and having a deeper understanding of the process is key to getting up and running.