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5 Tips for Designing the Perfect Coffee Bar Layout

August 10, 2018

Designing a coffee bar layout

| By Savannah Phillips |

Thinking of opening a new coffee shop or upgrading or remodeling your current coffee bar? While it’s a very exciting thought, perhaps it can be a bit daunting as well. Before you get started, it’s important to do your research and also be sure to work with the right people to save you time, money, and a huge headache from your new coffee bar.

Here are five tips for designing the perfect coffee bar layout in order to improve efficiency, cost, and the overall appearance.

Be Weary of Solely Using Architects and Interior Designers

Hiring architects and interior designers to help you redesign a coffee shop can be very helpful when it comes to building structure changes or interior decorating ideas and concepts. But, when it comes to coffee bar design, don’t trust them to be able to fully anticipate all of your needs because their knowledge of this subject matter will be limited or out-of-date.

Just because they have experience designing restaurants, doesn’t meant they know what’s best for coffee bar construction. Unless they have extensive first-hand experience working as a barista or have been a coffee shop owner, then they will not fully understand all that you will need in terms of technical specifications as well as the best design that is most practical. They will also likely recommend certain things that you really don’t need. Knowing the difference of what is essential and what is not will save you a huge amount of time and money.

Instead, choose a coffee roaster who helps its wholesale customers properly prepare and anticipate all the issues that will inevitably come up in the design and construction process. Here at Cafe Virtuoso, we have that experience and don’t just know what looks amazing when designing coffee bar layouts for our customers, but we also understand all of the aspects that go into the best overall functionality and most efficient coffee bar workflow.

Choose Espresso Machine and All Coffee Equipment First

This doesn’t mean you have to purchase all of the coffee equipment first, as you may want to wait until your coffee bar is completed so you have a place to put it all. But, choosing the equipment before construction is important because you want to make sure you design the space around the coffee equipment of your choice so that it fits properly. It doesn’t get much worse than having to start all over from scratch on your coffee bar build out because your space isn’t big enough to place your espresso machine, grinders and other brewing equipment where you had intended.

You also don’t want to have to choose different equipment than you originally planned to have because it could end up costing a lot more for something that fits in the space, or alternatively, you end up getting stuck with poor-quality equipment which ultimately would severely affect the quality of your product.

Make Sure Your Coffee Bar is Wired Properly

Typically there’s a disconnect between the builder and designer on this subject, which is a very common mistake that can easily be avoided. Be sure to find out what the electricity requirements are for your espresso machine, grinders and other brewing equipment beforehand and make sure everyone else working on the job (subcontractors) is aware as well.

Most espresso machines and other coffee equipment require 220 power, which is not often already installed in many buildings that were restaurants previously or anything else but a coffee shop. If this is not anticipated before you begin designing or building a coffee shop, you will have to rewire, which will cost way more than you’d like to spend just to simply meet your electrical requirements.

Physically Map Out the Space

It’s very likely that you have an idea in your head how you’d like your coffee bar area to look and feel. It’s also very likely that you have a pretty good grasp of how you and your staff will be working in that space.

To ensure this fits your expectations and needed efficiency for workflow, don’t just trust seeing the layout design on paper. Physically walk the space and mark off with tape where the items are to be placed in the cafe. That way you’ll immediately be able to discover any design flaws—such as putting the fridge directly under the espresso machine (big mistake)—or anything else that doesn’t feel natural.

Do this first by yourself and perhaps with your coffee staff. Then, do it again with your designer and general contractor. That way, you can address any limitations in design and practicality.

Understand City and County Regulations and Requirements

Doing your homework when it comes to both city and county requirements is critical. Don’t just assume that the city requirements and the county regulations are exactly the same.

A perfect example in San Diego is the specification for a cafe to have a grease trap. Despite how silly this inconsistency may seem, some of the cities in San Diego County do not mention this as a requirement, however, San Diego County does. If you were to follow the regulations of just your city on this one, you’d eventually end up with a hefty bill from the county requiring you to add a grease trap. On top of that, you might be forced to look for a new location because not all spaces or buildings allow for grease traps.

These are just some of the most important aspects to be aware of when planning and designing a coffee bar layout. There are still many others to consider not mentioned, so its best to put your trust in professionals who have coffee been specifically running and designing coffee shops for years.

If you’re looking for more information on how to best design a coffee bar layout that fits your needs, contact us. We’d love to help!

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Savannah Phillips

Quality Control
A Level-Two Certified Barista, native Northwesterner turned So-Cal girl, Savannah is also addicted to yoga, hiking, meditation and long drives up Coast Highway 101. She doesn’t remember ever not loving coffee. Even as a child, when most other kids typically hate the taste, it was something she craved, which looking back, was unquestionably an early prediction of a career devoted to specialty coffee.

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