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Opening a Coffee Shop: Ultimate Guide + Free Business Plan Template
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Opening a Coffee Shop: Ultimate Guide + Free Business Plan Template

Opening a Coffee Shop: Ultimate Guide + Free Business Plan Template

Dylan Holtzhausen
May 18, 2023
5 min read

A Comprehensive Guide from Idea to Menu Creation

Starting your own coffee shop is a challenging journey, but for those who show grit and determination along with forward thinking, it can be a rewarding venture. It requires a passion for food and drink and a keen understanding of business principles, marketing, technology and customer service. 

From conceptualizing your cafe to designing your menu, here's your ultimate guide to turning your dream cafe into reality.

Below is a link to a free business plan template for individuals looking to venture into the coffee shop business.

The Coffee Shop Concept

The concept of your coffee shop should be the first thing to consider. The core idea will guide all other decisions about your cafe, including the design, menu, and marketing strategy. When creating your cafe concept, consider your target audience, your unique selling proposition, and the atmosphere you want to make for customers when they step foot in your establishment. 

The group of people that your cafe intends to attract is your target audience. Are young professionals looking for a quick coffee on their way to work, or are they leisurely brunch-goers who appreciate a relaxed atmosphere? To cater to your customer's needs and preferences, you must thoroughly understand your target audience and customize your cafe's business plan and menu accordingly.

Your unique selling proposition (USP) sets your cafe apart. This could be anything from your special menu items such as cinnamon scrolls or a particular roasted coffee bean, sustainable business practices, ease of access and location, or exceptional customer service.

Last but not least, the atmosphere of your café should reflect your concept and appeal to your target audience. A cozy, rustic café might appeal to customers looking for a comfortable, relaxing space. In contrast, a modern, minimalist café might attract customers who appreciate a sleek, clean aesthetic.

Remember starting a café is no simple task, but with a clear cafe business plan, a well designed cafe menu to suit your demographic the road to success is heightened. 

Coffee Shop Business Plan

Your Coffee Shop business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines your cafe's goals, operational processes, marketing strategy, financial forecasts, and more. It's crucial for securing funding from investors or lenders. Still, it's also a valuable tool for planning your cafe's growth and development.

Your business plan should include a detailed budget outlining anticipated costs and revenue. This should cover everything from your initial start-up costs to your ongoing operational costs and provide a clear picture of your cafe's financial viability.

Get your free Coffee Shop Business Plan Kit from Seven Miles Coffee Roasters, a well known roaster based in Australia.


Location, Location, Location. The location of any coffee shop is a crucial factor in its success, and quite possibly the make or break in the first year or so. The ideal location depends mainly on your target audience you are trying to hit in your area. If your cafe caters to professionals, a location near office buildings or business parks might be perfect. On the other hand, if your cafe is aimed at tourists, a spot in a popular tourist area could be more suitable.

Consider factors like foot traffic, visibility, and accessibility when choosing your location. 

If you plan to position a cafe along a busy road, make sure there is accessibility for drives and vehicles to stop and park. If it’s a tedious process to find parking, you will be missing out on the morning traffic rush and people on the go.

Also, consider the competition in the area. Opening a cafe in an area saturated with similar offerings might be challenging. Still, it can also indicate a high demand for cafes and with your unique selling proposition (USP) you could flourish faster than others. 

A quick tip from the Menuzen team. Before venturing into opening a Coffee Shop Venue, try hiring a Coffee Truck Van, create a simple menu, and position yourself around the area you plan to start your business. Within 3 months you will get the jist of whether or not this location is primed, and along the way you can build knowledge and customer relationships to prime your business for success! 

Menu Design

Your coffee shop's menu is not just a simple list of items available. It's a critical marketing tool that can influence your customers perceptions and behavior. When designing your menu, consider your coffee shops concept, target audience, and unique selling proposition.

Choose dishes and drinks that reflect your concept and appeal to your target audience. For example, if you are promoting sustainability, your menu should feature locally sourced ingredients, plant-based options and bring your own cup.

The presentation of your menu is just as important as the offering within, and the design should be clean, clear, and easy to read. High-quality photos of your dishes can also boost view time on your menu, making things slightly more appealing. Not much you can do in the way of imagery for coffee, but promoting food offerings or baked goods is recommended. 

Making your menu accessible online is a crucial part of any coffee shop's marketing strategy. By simply showcasing your coffee menu across social media, it allows people to see your offering, pricing, branding and opening hours. This heightens your chance to win a customer who may be attending another coffee shop daily for their caffeine fix and make them a regular at your coffee shop!

Ready to create your first menu?

Embark on crafting your coffee shop menu and gain the inspiration necessary for progress. Strategize your branding, set your pricing, and animate your menu in preparation for your coffee shop venture's launch.

Try For Free

Licenses and Permits

Before you open your cafe, you'll need to obtain all necessary licenses and permits. These may vary depending on your location, but they typically include a business license, health permits, and a food handler's permit. Be sure to check in with your local department in best practices and requirements to start a coffee shop.


Promoting your coffee shop is crucial to attracting customers. Your marketing strategy should be tailored to your target audience. It can include tactics like social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, and local partnerships.

Social media, in particular, is a powerful tool for cafe owners. It lets you showcase your offerings, share news and updates, and engage with your customers. Plus, customers can share their experiences at your cafe, providing valuable user-generated content.


Hiring the right team is crucial for your coffee shop's success. When searching for new team members for your cafe, it's really important to find people who have the necessary skills and experience, share your values, and fit in with your cafe's culture. 

Your staff will be the face of your cafe, so they should be capable of delivering excellent customer service. 

Grand Opening

The grand opening of your cafe is a significant opportunity to generate buzz and attract customers. Consider hosting a special event, offering discounts or free samples, or partnering with local businesses to create a memorable experience for your guests.

Onward and Upward

Starting a coffee shop is no small task, but it can be an incredibly rewarding endeavor with the proper planning and tools. Use this guide above as a simple roadmap as you embark on your cafe adventure, and remember, the key to success is in providing a memorable experience to your customers, from the moment they step into your cafe until the last sip of their coffee. Good luck!

Ready to take the next step?

Join 1'000s of coffee shops around the world designing and marketing their menu on Menuzen. Craft beautiful, responsive coffee shop menus and distribute them across the web, social media, and physical store locations.

Try For Free

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