Coffee Bar Layout

Your coffee bar layout is important both functionally and visually. Customers appreciate its cleanliness and beauty, and whether they realize it or not, they appreciate its efficiency. Baristas also appreciate an efficiently laid out bar as it prevents them from bumping into each other during a morning rush. Designing a bar that is both visually pleasing and efficiently laid out can be overwhelming. After some research and a successful build, we decided to share our findings with future coffee shop owners!

We were not able to design the layout of our first coffee shop since we moved into a previously occupied space. However, our second coffee shop was a new build, so we were able to design the bar layout and plan for proper workflow. We began with sketches of the space and tried out a few different placements of machinery. During this process, Greg Ubert, recommended his book,  7 Steps to Success. We highly recommend purchasing a copy of this insightful book (Ubert’s book includes coffee samples from his company Crimson Cup). In 7 Steps to Success, Greg shares that the bar layout should lead to the barista taking the fewest number of steps possible. This will shorten drink preparation time, thus allowing the barista to create more drinks per hour, which increases profit.

The following bar layout reduces the number of steps a barista takes while also keeping conversations with the customer in mind. In short, the barista will begin by the cash registers with an empty cup, work their way down the counter in a straight line, and reach the end of the counter with a completed drink, and only a few steps taken. For each of your counters, we recommend the following orders.

Customer Facing Counter:

Back Counter:

  • Coffee grinder
  • Coffee brewer and tea brewer
  • Blending station:

We have a handwashing sink and microwave on our back bar as well. Finally, it is ideal to put your grab and go food station before the register. This allows customers to browse while they wait in line. With this order in mind, the barista moves seamlessly by taking the order, grabbing a cup, adding syrups, grinding and tamping the espresso, pulling the shot, steaming the milk, rinsing the pitcher, pouring the latte, and serving it to the customer. Because baristas can move relatively uninterrupted in a straight line, they can continue a conversation with a customer and cultivate an intentional and inviting environment.

In addition to determining the placement of your equipment, you will also need to ensure that the proper water lines, drains and electrical outlets (220v and 110v) are available near the location of your equipment. In our experience, the more electrical outlets the better. If you choose to add a drive-thru to your location, we recommend adding a small camera, tv monitor, and tasteful alarm bell to prevent baristas from overlooking a car in the drive-thru. We added these after a few years of being open, and we were thankful we had extra outlets for these additions.

Lastly, it is wise to avoid a porous countertop that would absorb stains easily, a delicate countertop that would scratch easily, and a pure white countertop that would show wear easily. No countertop will be perfect, but purchasing a durable countertop will keep your space looking fresh and clean longer. Next, you want to make sure that your counter is at the proper height for your baristas to reach equipment. Our first coffee shop had a very high countertop which made it difficult for shorter baristas to reach the machinery.

We recommend you build a section of counter that mostly covers the main drink making space from customers. While we follow health guidelines and keep our space sanitary, it is hard to keep a space looking completely put together during a rush. This will keep your space looking clean even during the rushes. Lastly, we provide a water dispenser near the drink pick-up area so that customers can access water at any time. This also prevents orders for water from lengthening the wait time for coffee drinks.

If you would like to see our coffee shops in person, visit our website for addresses and photos.

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