From sleek espresso machines to a trendy vacuum coffee maker, there is an overwhelming selection of coffee shop equipment. So how do you decide which products to buy? Your coffee menu and concept largely determine your coffee equipment needs, so it’s important to develop your business plan and create a budget before you decide to spend.
While some niche coffee shop equipment can be forgone at the beginning, every owner needs to invest in these essential materials when first starting a coffee shop:
Coffee bean grinder
Grinding coffee beans is the first step of the brewing process. So, while it may seem like a pedestrian piece of kit, it’s also the most crucial - it can even determine the quality and flavour of your coffee.
You can opt either for a blade grinder or a burr grinder. Just like the name sounds, a blade grinder uses a sharp blade to crush the hard beans so they are ready for brewing. A burr grinder is made of two abrasive burr surfaces that grind a few beans at a time. Baristas have more control over the grinding process with burr grinders, which grind more uniformly.
You might wonder if you need a separate grinder for espresso. An espresso bean is a type of coffee bean that is meant to be ground extra finely. That means espresso beans can be ground in the same machine if your coffee bean grinder has sufficient capabilities. That being said, it’s important not to be frugal with your grinder, not least because you should never underestimate your customer’s expectations – a true coffee lover may expect you to have a dedicated espresso grinder. If there is a coffee shop equipment item to splurge on, this is the one.
You might hear about gourmet coffee trends and want to purchase fancy coffee shop equipment, but it was the simple Americano which enjoyed the biggest increase in popularity in 2016, gaining 33 percent more fans. To serve the preferences of the nation, you need to invest in a standard commercial coffee brewer.
Depending on your clientele and concept, you can invest in an automated coffee brewer or a manual pour over. Automated coffee brewers usually allow you to make multiple cups of coffee at once and this is most likely to be your best choice. However, if your brand concentrates on perfecting the art of coffee - and is targeting a demographic willing to wait for it - a manual pour-over brewer can help make custom coffee per customer and comes with a sense of theatricality.
(And be sure to order the right cleaning supplies for your particular coffee brewer. Machines get messy and produce a film or residue that prevents you from serving your best-quality coffee.)
Countertop condiments and organisation materials
Think about the condiments you want to offer to your customers, if any at all. Perhaps your coffee is prepared to perfection and needs no additions, or perhaps you want to offer a station where milk, sugar, nutmeg or cinnamon can be added.
These materials need to be displayed in a way that keeps the countertop organised and clean, and all of them should be included on your coffee shop equipment list.
Other supplies to think about buying include coffee stirrers, lids, takeout cup containers, coffee cup sleeves and napkins, if you’re having these custom printed, that is another cost to consider.
Your coffee mugs are an essential piece of coffee shop equipment. They should represent your concept and add to the ambiance of your cafe. From ceramic to glass, simple to formal, there is an array of coffee cup styles to choose from. Talk to wholesale vendors about your coffee cup needs and order in bulk to be cost efficient.
Grill or toaster
At the very beginning you should concentrate on the star of the show - your coffee, but it’s standard practise to offer customers sweet or savoury treats to go with it. A toaster or grill is a great piece of kit to have on hand for this, even if all your can initially offer is a toastie, avocado toast or jam crumpet, these are still very valid and very popular coffee accompaniments you should stock.
It’s important to invest in some sort of display so people know what you offer and if there are special promotions. There are several ways to do this, from printing out your menus to installing chalkboards and handwriting them, another alternative is to have the space tiled or covered with clear plastic sheeting and write up your menu with a dry-erase marker. Again, the way you display your goods will have to be in-keeping with your overall aesthetic and demographic.
POS system and related hardware
Being able to make the best coffee around is important, but accepting payments is the only way to keep your company afloat. This makes your payment processing solution a crucial component of your coffee shop equipment.
Getting setup up with a point-of-sale system (the Square POS is free!) is extremely beneficial when you first start out. Look for software that lets you print tickets or order stubs to streamline production, easily add items to your menu and customise tipping, among other things.
With the right coffee shop POS system you can effectively manage your inventory and get alerts when certain stock levels are low. It can also collect sales data so you can determine your most popular products, the busiest time for your business and your sales growth patterns from the previous weeks using business analytics. All of this information can help you better manage the day-to-day operations of your coffee shop.