Bristol Twenty Single Origin Coffee

Tips To Setting Up A Successful Coffee Shop

For us Spring is always a busy time for new start ups, so this month we’ve asked some of our customers for their tips on setting up and running a successful coffee shop. 

The coffee shop sector in the UK is growing 8 times faster than the UK economy, so competition is high. We have compiled all of their tips in one handy place.

Tips To Setting Up A Successful Coffee Shop


Finding the perfect location is unique to you.

Figure out the type of coffee shop you want to have and base the location around that. 

Do you want a busy week and quieter weekends?

Find a location in a high business area.

Do you want to appeal to the younger generation?

Maybe a location near a university, college or school.

Do you want to be open into the evening?

A location close to residential areas would help.

Do you want a rural location?

If you are going to be a destination coffee shop, ensure you have adequate parking, cycle stands, or on a public transport route.

Whichever location you choose you need to ensure that there is foot fall and/or easy access. Stake out prospective units and all different times to see how many and what type of people are around, to ensure your idea fits.


Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you have a solid business plan showing:

  • What your business is and who it serves
  • How you will make it profitable
  • Your target market
  • Your competitors
  • Sales and revenue predictions
  • Milestones and goals

One of the most common tips when planning your coffee shop, that we heard, was factor in your expenses and salary.

It’s so easy to plan the business without considering how you will live for the first couple of years whilst you grow the business and this is why it is one of our main tips for setting up a successful coffee shop.


What is your unique selling point?

With so many new startups, what will set you aside from the competition?

Will you be serving the best doughnuts in town?

Will you be using an unusual, unique coffee that no one else is serving?

Will you have a theme, such as a board game coffee shop?

Whatever you choose as your USP, it should follow through the business to ensure that people know what it is.

Did you know that our #21TEN Roy Ireland memorial blend has been awarded a star at the Great Taste Awards 2019. Made in partnership with Above And Beyond Charity, £1 from each bag sold goes to supporting our city centre hospitals.


Setting out the floor plan can be difficult and may need to be adaptable. You should consider whether you will have counter service or table service.

This will dictate where the counter is based and how big it should be. 

If you are relying on take away sales the door needs to be close enough to the counter to allow easy access, but if a queue builds it won’t be obstructed. 

If you have table service only, there needs to be enough room for customers and staff to move easily amongst the tables. Always factor in the need for extra room for pushchairs, especially if you are close to primary schools or nurseries. 

If you have both, they need to coexist. If people have to queue among tables for their take away coffees, both parties will be put out.


Tips To Setting Up A Successful Coffee Shop

Picking your equipment should be based on your target market. 

If it’s mainly take away; as well as grab and go fridges and food displays, your coffee machine should be designed to deal with a variety of reusable coffee cups that people use these days. If you have a very busy morning rush, would a filter option that people can access quickly or even help themselves to, save you time and improve your throughput? This frees up the espresso machine to deal with espresso and milk based drinks.

If you are mainly table service you could probably get away with a small coffee machine and counter as the service will be slower. This will allow you more room for tables to increase revenue, to counteract the slower throughput. 

If you are a mobile unit that will be in the middle of a festival field with limited power and no water, a machine that runs off of  a generator and water butt might be your only option.

Whatever you decide Bristol Twenty have a variety of options suited to all situations and the experience to find you the best option for you.


Building a great network of suppliers and customers is essential to your business, which is why it is one of our top tips for setting up a successful coffee shop.

Get involved with your local chamber of commerce, business associations and local charities. Encourage local groups such as mums and toddler groups, running and cycling clubs. 

Get to know who’s around you and network your heart out.

Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Start using social media way before you open to create a buzz around your site. 

Once open; post daily content to remind people that you are there. 

Offer weekly / monthly offers or target specific groups each day. There are great apps, such as Hootsuite that allow you to pre plan a week or months worth of content so you can concentrate on serving your customers.

Bristol Twenty Instagram


Tips To Setting Up A Successful Coffee Shop

Appear to have an unfaltering positive attitude. Running your own business can be very demanding and incredibly tiring. However each customer that walks through those doors doesn’t need to know that, and they are a new pound sign. By appearing to be positive and upbeat all the time, will encourage people to come back. This rubs off on staff, customers and suppliers and slowly envelops your coffee shop into an air of positivity.

Opening and closing times should be set in stone. That doesn’t mean they can’t ever be changed but if you say your going to be open at 8am but no one is there until 8.45, people will stop risking a visit.

Be flexible. Your business model might be aimed at the eat in market but if people want to take out you can do it. You may want your staff to interact with customers, but as busy times this isn’t always possible. Maybe a little ‘have a great day’ on the cup will help them remember you.


Finding the right crew is hard, keeping hold of them is even harder. 

Hire slowly and be sure that each new addition fits in with the team before moving on to the next. 

Invest in them; provide ongoing training to make sure their skill set is kept up to date. Bristol Twenty offers unlimited training for your staff when it comes to drink preparation. 

At Bristol Twenty we have created a collection of step-by-step videos designed to help people set standards in the coffee industry and minimise downtime.

These videos demonstrate how to create popular coffee drinks, as well as fix issues with coffee grinders and machines.

Involve them; so that they feel part of the growth of the business, but be careful not to share too much.

Staff often see you making a profit and can become complacent.

Reward them; paying a decent wage is always good, but utilise the trivial benefit, that allows you to reward them tax free with a gift worth up to £50 in any one month, to reward a particularly good job this can’t be given as cash, but a voucher or gift is perfect. 

Tips To Setting Up A Successful Coffee Shop


Tips To Setting Up A Successful Coffee Shop

Start your menu small, and grow it over time. You have to make sure you can all walk before you run. You can slowly introduce new drinks once you have mastered the perfect espresso.

Although we would all love to consistently offer 100% quality all of the time, realistically 80% is probably the best model. Except that is when it comes to your espresso.

Whichever espresso blend or single origin you decide to serve, make sure you and your staff know the parameters and recipe of your espresso and how to keep it consistent.

If your espresso is perfect, but your milk for a cappuccino is a bit flat, the drink will still taste good to the customer, even if it doesn’t look perfect.

Bristol Twenty can help you pick the perfect coffee and ensure that you have the tools to make sure your espresso is perfect every time.


You can have the perfect coffee shop set up, but if you are not making a profit you won’t last long. A few tips from our customers will help you maximise that.

  • Encourage return visits by offering a loyalty scheme. Run an offer to get people through the door, and wow them so they come back.
  • Promote a higher spend per head. Make it a habit to offer an upgrade to a purchase or an additional product to add, such as a muffin to go with that cappuccino!
  • Keep things simple. You don’t need 10 syrups or 20 sandwich choices, offer 5 really great options or the most popular.
  • Set your stock levels so that you don’t run out of things. We offer a standing order so that your coffee will arrive without you even having to think about it.    
  • Set up direct debits to pay your suppliers, so you don’t fall behind whilst you are busy wowing customers.
  • Streamline rotas to make sure you are staffed up. There are some great apps that allow staff to view their rotas on line and even swap shifts with other staff at the same level so you always have the right people in the right places.
  • Be visible and lead by example. What you do will rub off on your staff and they will want to help you build your business.
Tips To Setting Up A Successful Coffee Shop


Tips To Setting Up A Successful Coffee Shop

There are just a few of our tips to setting up a successful coffee shop.

Above all else have fun and enjoy what you are doing. People will want to be in your shop rather than the stuffy Costa over the road.

‘Learning new stuff, and being creative as well as people appreciating the result its a real buzz!’

Rory Ireland, B20 Sales Director

Fair Trade Vs Direct Trade Coffee

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