As long as you are going to be opening up in a good location, starting your own coffee business is a great idea. There is not much overhead when running a coffee shop, and there is a great deal of profit to be made. Many people crave their morning coffee. If your coffee shop is the closest, it can be the most convenient, you can make good money.

When you start shopping around for furniture, purchasing used items is a good idea, as long as they are in good condition. This includes tables, counter top, sinks, etc. When you start shopping around for equipment that has a motor or a compressor, you want to avoid buying any used equipment, unless you know exactly how old it is and who owned it before you. You also want to be able to see regular maintenance records so that you can be sure the equipment was taken care of. If you purchase used equipment, you may need to end up replacing it sooner than you think.

Equipment Needs

When you open your coffee shop, you are going to need a great deal of equipment. It is a good idea to know what type of equipment to buy from the start. You don't want to choose the wrong type of equipment, and then need to spend more money to replace it.

A Point of Sale System (POS) or Cash Register? Of the two options, a POS system is the best. While the system won't speed up your customer line, it will help you analyze your sales and your inventory more efficiently. A POS system costs more than a cash register. You can expect to pay up to $5,000 for a system. If you want multiple terminals and a kitchen printer, it can cost even more. The best option is a POS fast food register that has price look ups (PLU). If you purchase one that allows you to download all of the information from the system into your computer, it can help you when it comes time to enter the information into a spreadsheet for inventory and monthly sales figures. These systems go for about $800. If your store takes off and you start opening more stores, you may want to upgrade to a POS, because you can link the stores and control them from one place.

Espresso Machine: This is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you can purchase. Because it is so important, you don't want to skimp. The best machine is a two group. If you think that you need a backup, you can get a one group as well. A three or four group is great, however, you won't be able to get more than one person in at one time. Usually you won't need more than one person making espresso shots at once anyway. 


Machine types: When it comes to choosing the type of machine to buy, you have three choices, the semi-automatic, automatic, or the super automatic. The best option is the automatic. You can program the machine to cut off a shot at 23 seconds, or whatever you choose, and you can still do it manually. The semi-automatic requires you to shut it off manually. The super automatic does everything, It grinds the beans, tamps, pulls the shut, shuts it off, and discards the grounds automatically. These may be great, but they are very expensive.


Boiler capacity: You should choose a machine with a boiler capacity of 9 to 14 liters. You don't want to run out of hot water or steam with 10 customers in line. This will likely happen with a boiler of less than 9 liters.


Service: You want to buy a machine where you can get parts or have it serviced easily. If you get an espresso machine for cheap, but you cannot find anyone to service it, the low price really won't be beneficial.


Water softener: If you live in an area with hard water, you want to get a whole water system softener. Hard water causes lime build up. It can clog the piping to the point where water cannot get through. The cost to take the machine apart and de-lime it is quite expensive. When the water is hard, the machine would need to be de-limed several times over its lifetime. To be on the safe side, you should go with a water softener.

Espresso Grinders

You will need an espresso grinder for regular and decaf espresso. There are several models available. You want your model to be automatic, and to have its own doser/coffee hopper. You can purchase a doserless model that will grind right into the portafilter Even though it will make freshly ground espresso, it is not good during the morning rush. You can purchase a unit with a hopper that allows the hopper to fill with espresso and they have a lid to keep the air out. Bigger units have a bigger hopper, smaller units have a smaller hopper.

Bulk Coffee Grinder

When it comes to your bulk coffee grinder, you want to make sure that you get the full scale version and not the shorter one. The short ones are not tall enough to easily get a bag underneath to grind the beans for the customer. It is a good idea to have three grinders, one for regular coffee, one for decaf, and one for flavored coffee. If you use the same for all three, the regular and the decaf will taste like the flavored coffee.

Coffee Maker (Drip)

You want to buy a maker according to the volume that you need to make. Automatics are the best type, because they are plumbed right into the water line. If you purchase a pour over unit, you will need to fill it manually, which can be inconvenient. The best option an air pot brewer. These brew the coffee directly into the air pot. You can purchase either a single unit model or a double. The double is better because it will save you a lot of time during the morning rush.

Pastry Case

The best type of pastry case is one with a dual zone. This will allow you to display items that need to be refrigerated as well as products that can be left at room temperature. Before you purchase a pastry case, you should do some measurements in the coffee shop to see what you can fit. You want to buy something that looks good and can hold a great deal of product.


There are several models of blender that you can purchase. Some have features that you won't even need, and will cost you extra money. You should be sure to purchase a commercial blender, rather than a consumer blender. Consumer blenders don't have the heavy duty motors that commercial models do. With all the use that the blender will get, a consumer blender will break down quickly.

Sandwich Prep Units

These units come in a single door, double door, or triple door units. You buy one based on your overall needs. Large units have more capacity inside the unit. The bigger plus has a prep top area and more compartments for you to put vegetables, meats, etc. If you are planning to serve deli sandwiches and Panini, you should go with the double door. If you don't have the money to spend on a double door, you should be able to get away with a single door.

Under the Counter Refrigerator  

You want to get a two door unit. You want the inside capacity to be large enough to hold your dairy products, smoothie mix, and open soy cartons. If you are not using a large company to supply your bottled water and soda, you want to have room for them as well.

Storage Refrigerator

This is the refrigerator that will go in the back room, and will hold your back stock of milk, baking ingredients, and food items. You can get these in double and single door models The one you choose depends on how much back stock you expect to have.

Ice Maker

You want to get an ice maker that can make between 600 and 1000 pounds of ice each day. This will give you enough for the day, and you will be able to make more within 24 hours. You will need ice for iced coffee, soda, fruit smoothies, frappes, frozen chai, etc.


If you plan to serve ice cream, you will need a freezer. You will also need one if you are going to have frozen foods in storage, such as breakfast sausage.


You should get an oven depending on what you plan to bake. You may find that an A ¼ is too small and a full size will be too large. The median unit is a ½ size and has three cooking racks. A convection oven cuts your baking time in half, because it has a blower wheel that disperses heat faster than a traditional oven. This is great for baking pies, pastries, and other baked goods.

Panini Grill

You want to get a cast iron model that has ribbed plates. The ribbed plates leave the impressive grill marks on the panini. You should get a double plate unit, so that you can cook four paninis at once, should you get a large order.

Three Compartment Sink

Most health departments require that restaurants have three compartments, one to wash, one to rinse, ad one to sanitize. A commercial dishwasher can replace a three compartment sink, however, many restaurants have both. You don't need to have a huge sink, just one large enough to fit your largest piece of washable cookware.

Hand Sinks

Before you go shopping for hand sinks, you should contact the health department to find out how many you will need. The number requires on how many employees you have and based on your floor plan. You should also find out how many feet apart the sinks need to be.


When shopping for furniture, you want to get something that is comfortable, but not too comfortable. You want customers to be comfortable while in your shop, but not too comfortable where they attract non-paying squatters. You should have a combination of tables and chairs, couches, and wing chairs. If you don't want to purchase new furniture, there are good finds at resale shops and Goodwill.


You will need a phone to take orders or to answer customer questions. As long as the phone rings, it will be fine. A cordless phone is great for when things get busy.


Customers and employees, both enjoy hearing music. You should get a radio with enough speakers to put in each corner of the sitting area, as well as in the back where the employees work.

Credit Card Machine

You need to accept credit cards if you want to make any money. All you need is a swiper with PIN pad. You can get one of these through your credit processor. They will offer you a lease agreement, however, it is cheaper to buy one outright.

Prep Tables

You will need prep tables to prepare your food. You should go with a stainless steel table, because they are very easy to clean. They come in various sizes, with or without a backsplash. Most have a shelf underneath for storage.

One you have all of the above listed equipment, you are well on your way to owning a successful coffee shop.