Essential Coffee Shop Equipment for Your Cafe

Table of Contents

1. Coffee, Espresso, and Beverage Equipment

2. Barista tools

3. Coffee shop accessories
4. Coffee shop ingredients
5. Disposable Coffee Shop Supplies
6. Coffee equipment-cleaning tools

7. Miscellaneous barista supplies
8. POS system and related hardware

A great coffee shop is built on a quality product. And while the quality of your coffee is determined by the calibre of your beans and the skill of your baristas, it is also affected by your coffee shop equipment.

The right equipment not only elevates your coffee but ensures operational efficiency. But with so much coffee shop equipment to choose from, how do you know which is right for you? 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.

Here, we aim to compile a comprehensive list of all the equipment you might need to manage a successful coffee shop.

1. Coffee, espresso, and beverage equipment

First things first, let’s take a look at all the equipment to transform those chocolate-coloured aromatic beans into unforgettable drinks that will keep your customers coming back time and time again.

Espresso machine

While there is certainly a market for plain filter coffee, many of today’s most popular drinks are espresso-based indulgences such as cappuccinos, lattes, cortados and mochas. In order to serve these, you will need to purchase an espresso machine.

There is a wide range of espresso machines available for commercial use, many of which have attached steam wands to create the frothy foamed milk that makes delicious velvety flavours.

Depending on the size of your operation, you will need a machine with a number of group heads. This is the part of the machine that passes hot water through the portafilter to make espresso and determines how many espressos can be made at one time.

By rule of thumb:

  • One group machines serve around 20-50 drinks a day
  • Two group machines serve 100-200 drinks per day
  • Three group machines serve 300-500 drinks per day

Coffee bean grinder

Grinding coffee beans is the first, and arguably most crucial, step of the brewing process.

Coffee shop owners have a choice of either a blade grinder or a burr grinder. As the name suggests, 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.

In order to make an intensely flavoursome espresso, the bean must be ground extra finely, making your grinder perhaps the most important piece of equipment you will buy for your coffee shop.

Coffee brewers

Espresso-based drinks will likely be the staple of your coffee shop. But you should also make sure you cater to those who favour a good old-fashioned brewed coffee.

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.

Decanters, airpots, and satellite servers

Speaking of brewed coffee, you will most likely want to invest in additional supplemental equipment. For instance, coffee often brews into glass decanters so you may wish to have some of these spare to keep operations running smoothly.

Likewise, airpots and satellite brewers are a good way to keep brewed coffee warm for longer. This may enable coffee shops to set up satellite self-service stations for guests to help themselves to free refills, driving down queues.

Coffee roasters

Most coffee wholesalers will sell pre-roasted beans. But for those with the knowledge and skill, roasting your own beans can lend your brand a distinct USP that the big chains, for all their ubiquity, will never be able to match.

Roasting your own beans can help you to save money in the long term while also empowering your brand with a completely unique flavour that your customers won’t get anywhere else.

Frappe and smoothie blenders

Many coffee shops offer more than just delicious hot drinks. They also serve blended iced drinks such as iced lattes, frappes and smoothies. In order to serve these, coffee shop owners use high-speed blenders to crush ice cubes with espresso shots, milks, juices or fruit and other solid ingredients to make enticing cold drinks.

Choose a blender with a faster motor to ensure smoother drinks with fewer conspicuous ice chunks. A low noise profile is also important to prevent the whirr of the blades from impinging on the relaxed atmosphere of the coffee shop.

Iced tea brewers and iced tea dispensers

A selection of hot teas is a no-brainer for coffee shops. But as well as stocking up on tea bags, you may also want to invest in iced tea brewers and dispensers for the warmer months. While standalone brewers can be used for cold brew iced tea, there are also combo brewers that can brew both tea and coffee.

Hot water dispenser

A hot water dispenser is essential for coffee shops. As well as providing on-tap hot water for hot tea and Americano coffee, they can also be used for cleaning equipment. While espresso machines often express hot water through the steam wand, a standalone hot water dispenser provides much more efficient access to hot water.

2. Barista tools

Baristas need the right tools to craft exquisite hot drinks for customers. Aside from investing in a good quality espresso machine and grinder, coffee shops need to invest in supplemental barista tools.

Here are some essential examples.

Espresso tampers

An espresso tamper is a handheld tool used to tamp down ground espresso beans in the portafilter’s basket prior to brewing. This ensures that the grounds are densely and evenly packed to ensure a rich, flavourful and aromatic espresso with a rich crema layer on top.

Note that some grinders have their own built-in tampers.

Frothing pitchers

A frothing pitcher is a pitcher used that contains milk as it is foamed by the steam wand. These are typically made from stainless steel to ensure that the milk heats into foam quickly while also retaining heat so that the same foam can be used for multiple drinks.

Knock boxes

Knock boxes store used coffee grounds which are knocked into the box from the portafilter. This helps to isolate used espresso grounds from general waste to make your operation more sustainable.

Used coffee grounds are an excellent natural fertiliser. Leave them to dry, bag them up and give them to customers for their gardens for free.

Measuring cups and spoons

Your talented team will often need to measure ingredients quickly but accurately. Measuring cups and spoons are an excellent way to do this.

Portion scales

Portion scales can be used to divide portions of ingredients for drinks or food. They can also be used to weigh coffee beans, should you wish to bag them up and sell them to your customers, enabling them to get the unique taste of your coffee shop at home.

Tea ball infusers and lemon wedge bags

Teabags are great. But many tea connoisseurs prefer the taste of loose-leaf tea that has been infused in a tea ball. Tea balls offer an easy way for customers to infuse tea to their taste. Lemon wedge bags, meanwhile, can be used to store pre-sliced wedges of lemon for quick and easy service.

Syrup pumps

Flavoured syrups are an excellent way for customers to customise their coffees. But getting the measurements right for both taste and stock control is much easier with syrup pumps. These are placed inside a syrup bottle and dispense when the pump is pushed down.

Frothing thermometers

Getting the temperature just right is essential for creating milk foam of the perfect consistency for cappuccinos, lattes etc. While a good barista will develop an instinctive feel for how long the steam wand needs to be placed in the milk, a frothing thermometer eliminates the guesswork, sitting in the frothing pitcher displaying the temperature within on its gauge.

3. Coffee shop accessories

The right coffee shop accessories can make a huge difference to a coffee shop, contributing to the ambience while also reinforcing and strengthening the branding. Important coffee shop accessories include:

  • Coffee mugs and tea cups- These are available in a range of sizes and can be imprinted with your brand’s logo
  • Espresso cups- These small and elegant cups are perfect for holding single or double shots of espresso
  • Milk or cream jugs- Allow customers to create the perfect flavour by adding their own milk or cream to taste
  • Sugar pourers- These can be either placed on individual tables or customisation stations, allowing customers to sweeten their drinks
  • Spice shakers: These can be filled with powdered chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla to further customise hot drinks

4. Coffee shop ingredients

As well as reliable equipment and talented staff, your coffee shop also needs the very best ingredients to create mouth-watering drinks. At the very least you will need to ensure that you stock up on the following ingredients:

  • Coffee beans- Consider different varieties for different flavour profiles to suit coffee connoisseurs and casual fans alike. You should also consider investing in some decaffeinated beans
  • Tea bags and loose-leaf tea- Again, variety is the spice of life, so make sure you have more than a good English breakfast in your tea repertoire
  • Hot chocolate- A luxurious treat that may or may not be served with whipped cream, marshmallows or a dusting of chocolate powder
  • Milk- Whole milk has the best fat, protein and sugar ratio to create a rich subtly sweet foam. However, some drinkers prefer the skinny option. Be sure to also stock up on plant-based favourites like oat, soy and almond milk for those who eschew dairy
  • Syrups- Flavoured syrups can be used to create flavoursome drinks with a seasonal twist. As well as staples like vanilla, hazelnut and caramel, consider popular seasonal options like pumpkin spice for autumn or gingerbread for winter
  • Sugar and sweeteners- Make sure these are always close at hand for customers who want to sweeten their drinks

5. Disposable coffee shop supplies

Coffee shops also need to invest in a number of disposable items in order to offer takeaway drinks for their customers. These are also known as consumables. They include:

  • Takeaway coffee cups- These can also be branded with your coffee shop logo, albeit at an extra cost
  • Coffee cup sleeves
  • Lids
  • Straws and stirrers
  • Takeaway food boxes
  • Coffee cup holders
  • Coffee boxes- A must-have for catering, providing a box of hot coffee and cups for a small group to share

Keep in mind that many consumers are highly sustainability conscious. Try to offer disposable items made with recycled and/or recyclable materials or biodegradable plastic alternatives such as vegware.

6. Coffee equipment cleaning tools

Coffee grounds and hot water can lead to stains, buildups of grounds and limescale that can cause damage to your equipment, especially if your coffee shop is in a hard water area. As such, you’ll need to invest in the proper tools for cleaning coffee equipment.

Coffee equipment cleaners and coffee pot cleaners

Coffee-making equipment and coffee pots are at risk of buildup from oils and particulates from the coffee grounds as well as limescale deposits from the water. These can not only prove damaging to the equipment but also to the taste and aroma of the coffee they make.

There are many coffee equipment cleaners available in liquid, tablet, crystal and powder form. These can be used to clean both interior and exterior parts. When used regularly, they can help to extend the life of the equipment so that they can keep making delicious coffee for many years to come.

Espresso equipment cleaners

Espresso machines and portafilters can also be cleaned with specialist espresso equipment cleaners. Limescale removers can be run through the espresso machine to remove limescale deposits from the internal workings and cleaning powders can be mixed with water and passed through the machine to remove unwanted oily deposits.

Likewise, portafilters and baskets should be soaked in a combination of cleaning products and water once a week.

Milk frother and steam wand cleaners

Milk frothers and steam wands are prone to the buildup of residue from both dairy and plant-based milks. As such, they should be wiped clean after each use, but also periodically cleaned on the inside with a liquid steam wand or milk frother cleaner.

Beverage equipment cleaning brushes

Although there are many chemical cleaners that can be used to clean coffee-making equipment, unwanted deposits may collect in hard-to-reach areas that chemicals alone may not touch. Fortunately, there are special brushes available for cleaning group heads and other parts of coffee machines. These have bristles that target deposits of coffee grounds without damaging the workings of the machine.

Espresso machine maintenance kit

Commercial espresso machines are designed for heavy use. Nonetheless, they do need occasional maintenance. With the right tools and a little know-how, this can be managed in-house without expensive callout fees.

An espresso machine maintenance kit contains the necessary screws, washers and gaskets that often need to be replaced in a commercial espresso machine due to wear. This helps to prevent damage to the machine and provides it with a longer lifespan.

Water filters for hot beverage equipment

The right coffee beans are essential in brewing the perfect coffee. But don’t forget the other crucial ingredient– water.

A water filter can be used to manage the balance of mineral deposits in the water used for coffee, resulting in optimised coffee extraction and minimised buildup of limescale in the equipment.

7. Miscellaneous barista supplies

Above, we have covered the basics in terms of what will be needed to make the kind of coffee on which a brand can be built.

However, coffee shop owners can increase their market appeal and diversify their offerings with sandwiches, baked treats, snacks and a broader selection of cold drinks. This would necessitate investment in some other miscellaneous supplies.

These may include:

  • Cooking equipment- A modest kitchen can be used to prepare sandwiches, wraps, pastries, cakes and other goodies. This may require the purchase of microwave ovens, high-speed ovens, panini presses, waffle makers or sandwich toasters
  • Ice machine- Coffee shops that wish to serve cold drinks such as frappes and smoothies at higher volumes will need to invest in an ice machine. Coffee shop owners will need a machine that makes ice in sufficient quantities but does not take up too much space or make too much noise
  • Display case- An enticing display of sandwiches, cakes, pastries, muffins, cookies and other delectable treats is a great way to cross-sell and increase average order value. Likewise, creating deals that pair coffee drinks with food can increase AOV while also giving the customer a greater sense of value for money. Display cases can be either dry or refrigerated, depending on the foods they are used to store
  • Refrigeration- Needless to say, quality refrigeration is necessary to keep food and drink ingredients fresh and appealing. Display cases can also be refrigerated to ensure that prepared food lasts longer
  • Dishwasher- While a sink, scrubbing brush and elbow grease may be all it takes to keep dishes clean in very small coffee shops, a commercial dishwasher can make operations much more scalable, saving the team’s time and energy and keeping them at the front of house where they can be of more help to customers.

Being able to make the best coffee around is important, but accepting payments is the only way to keep a coffee shop 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!) and a card machine to take payments 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.

What to do after completing your coffee shop equipment list

With a comprehensive list of all the coffee shop equipment they need, business owners should start reaching out to vendors, comparing prices and payment terms to get the best deal for the cash flow needs of their nascent businesses. Remember that a company (any company) is only as good as its suppliers and the products that they provide.

When imbued with the right equipment, coffee shop owners can engage their creative sides and start working on establishing a floor plan, making creative decisions about decor and building an ambience that draws customers in as effectively as the aroma of the coffee. They can start working on building a brand that can be seen, heard, felt and tasted in every aspect of their coffee shop experience. Furthermore, they can start recruiting skilled baristas who have the coffee crafting and customer service skills that embody the values of the brand and keep customers coming back for more.