Coffee shops are the backbone of many towns and cities in the UK. Whether it’s a cosy corner shop or a trendy cafe, coffee is a much-needed staple for most people. In fact, many of us even choose to work in high street coffee shops, so having access to a good coffee shop is more than just a refreshment pit-stop but a workplace choice too.
If you’re thinking about opening a coffee shop in the UK but don’t know where to start, this guide will help you on your way!
The demand for coffee in the UK
So, you’re considering opening a coffee shop in the UK. You’ve probably heard that Brits love their tea and filter coffee, but there’s more to the country’s relationship with beverages than just those two drinks.
A report by The Speciality Coffee Association of Europe revealed that Brits spent £4 billion on coffee in 2017 alone—an impressive figure considering it was only £3.3 billion at the turn of the century—and brewed almost 8 million cups per day! If you factor in milk-based alternatives like lattes or cappuccinos (which are also popular), then that number jumps even higher: an average of 3 coffees per day for every person living in Britain!
The demand for quality caffeine isn’t limited solely to hot beverages: cold brew iced coffees are also gaining popularity among millennials and Gen Zers who want something refreshing but still caffeinated on hot summer days.
Put simply, coffee and related products are in high demand and that demand looks to be growing in the coming years.
Not only this, but the demand for co-working coffee shops is higher than ever. Remote workers love to find a space they can hang out for the day, with quality coffee and food, plus plenty of power sockets and obviously free wifi. Attracting this clientele could also add an extra string to your coffee shop bow.
How to make a business plan for your coffee shop
A business plan is an important part of your coffee shop business, as it will help you to understand how much money you can expect to make and what kind of financial commitments it will take to get there.
- Will you also serve food?
You should consider whether or not serving food will be part of the menu at your new coffee shop. If so, then make sure that this aspect is covered in your business plan by calculating how much additional income this will provide.
You can easily prep sandwhiches in your shop, or even freshly bake pre-packaged frozen pastries. But if you really want to set yourself apart then you might consider offering freshly prepared dishes such as cooked breakfasts or other dining options.
Of course, each has their own benefits. Simple food can be less complicated and offer a better profit margin. But bespoke food might improve the reputation of your coffee shop, but cost more to prepare and offer less in turns of profits.
- Where is it going to be based?
You need strong focus on your location for optimal chances of success. The best choice is to aim for shops along busy streets where foot traffic is high throughout the day.
But other options might include being near to public transport hubs, within markets or shopping centres, or even close to industrial parks or major tourist attractions.
- What are the estimated start-up costs?
To begin, you’ll need to estimate how much money you’ll need to open up your coffee shop. This will include a variety of different expenses such as rent (or lease), utilities, equipment and furniture purchases, licenses and permits; etcetera…
You’ll also need to work out how many staff you will need to operate efficiently, and factor in their wages. Remember you’ll need to train them as well!
How to choose a good name for a coffee shop in the UK
Choosing the right name for your business is key to long term success. The name you choose will set the tone for your brand, and it will also help build recognition in the local community. It’s important to consider this before opening a coffee shop in the UK.
If you’re looking to open a UK-based coffee shop, it’s good practice to choose a contemporary style name over traditional or classic styles.
An older or traditional name for a coffee shop might be something like, “Sam’s Coffee Shop”, or “Ye Old Coffee and Tea House”.
But if you’re looking for a contemporary style name, look at these for example:
- Federation Coffee
- Black Sheep Coffee
- Turntable Coffee
- Prime Cafe
All of these offer a more simple and contemporary coffee naming style.
You might also take inspiration from abroad. For example Italian coffee shop names still inspire confidence that the coffee will be of a high quality.
For example Costa Coffee (Costa) and Caffè Nero (Caffè Nero) have both built their brands on being associated with the European coffee culture. You’ll notice that these businesses all have short, easy-to-spell names rather than ones with additional characters such as apostrophes or spaces.
Things to consider when opening a coffee shop UK
When deciding where to open your coffee shop, it’s important to consider the location of your business. You should want to be located in a popular thoroughfare or an area that has a lot of foot traffic. If you don’t have the money for prime real estate and are instead on an industrial back street, there are ways you can still make sure people know about your business.
For example, using Google Adwords or Facebook ads can create awareness in local communities without having any physical presence yet.
You should also think about what unique selling points (USPs) your coffee shop offers as well as good food, free WiFi, being dog friendly, having space for kids to play, offering a co-working space or other options.
The USP will help differentiate yourself from other coffee shops in the area and give potential customers some idea of why they should visit yours over them!
Choose your location wisely
It’s crucial to choose a good location for your coffee shop. It doesn’t matter how well you run your business, if people can’t find it, it won’t succeed.
Your best bet is to be in or near a city centre so that footfall (the number of people who walk past your premises) is high. Even if there is strong competition, you can often make a name for yourself, especially if you have a specific USP.
However, this can be expensive and there are often specific regulations you’ll need to follow such as opening times, use of outside space or the hosting of certain events.
Public transport hubs such as train stations and bus stops are also good options as they tend to have high footfall but aren’t always as expensive as city centre sites. You might also see your traffic peak at rush hours but plateau at other times of the day which can be hard to manage as a worker.
Shopping centres can be great too. They tend to attract large numbers of shoppers who often have time on their hands during their shopping trip which means they’ll stop in at your place for a quick cup of coffee too.
Being based in a local market can also be a good option. This might be less expensive than some other high street locations, but depending on the market the footfall might be low or inconsistent.
On the other hand, out-of-town locations may not have much footfall but could save you money on rent and utilities bills – however make sure the property has enough space first before committing yourself.
Small towns might seem like an ideal option because they don’t attract many visitors yet still provide plenty opportunities for growth (and loyal customers).
Independent vs franchise?
One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make as a new coffee shop owner is whether or not you want to go with a franchise. Franchises offer many benefits, but they also come with some significant drawbacks.
As a franchise owner, there are many things that are taken care of for you:
- You’ll get all the necessary tools in order to get started running your own business (such as an operating manual and marketing materials). This can save time on research and development.
- If choosing between two similar franchises that both fit into your market niche well (like Starbucks vs Costa), then having one do all the hard work for you might save time and money too because it’s already established itself as an industry leader!
But as an indepedent coffee shop you have lots of opportunity to present yourself as the best coffee shop in town, thanks to your unique brand.
Training is key to success
If you’re going to be selling coffee, it is essential that you have a trained barista. This means training them in the right way of making great coffee and the correct equipment needed to make it.
Training on health and safety, customer service or food preparation may also be necessary depending on what kind of coffee shop you are opening. If your business involves serving alcohol then you will need an alcohol licence as well.
Interior design and ambiance
Your UK coffee shop should be designed in a way that reflects the type of café you want it to be. For example, if you’re going for a contemporary minimalist style, consider using reclaimed wood and metals rather than polished chrome or glass. If your target audience is older customers who prefer the tea room vibe, then perhaps you should think about buying antique furniture.
The interior design will be your biggest outlay so think carefully about what direction you’d like to take with styling and remember what’s important when deciding on fixtures such as tables and chairs (e.g. are they stylish or comfortable enough?).
When choosing music for your UK coffee shop remember that not everyone will appreciate music being played loudly in the background so make sure there’s an option for quiet times too. You may also want some kind of soundproofing between rooms so customers can hear their own conversations without shouting across the room at each other.
Choosing the best equipment for a coffee shop UK
When choosing the right coffee machines for your UK coffee shop, it’s important to consider what your customers need. You can find a variety of coffee machines on the market that will suit any budget, but if you’re looking for quality equipment and a competitive edge over other shops in your area, expect to pay at least £5000 for the best quality options.
Coffee machine brands such as Lavazza, Gaggia and Saeco offer an extensive range of product models and their products are sold via distributors across the country. These companies are well known for producing high quality products so investing in one of these brands is likely to give you peace of mind that you have selected a reliable brand name with years of experience behind them.
If you’re looking into opening a new business then buying second hand equipment may seem like an attractive option but be aware that older machines could have been used excessively or incorrectly by previous owners which may result in reduced lifespan or even mechanical failure during operation! It’s also possible that old machines will require frequent maintenance work throughout their lifetime which could prove costly compared with buying new ones off-the-shelf instead.”
Health and safety and risk assessments
The health and safety risk assessment is a vital part of any new business. It will help you identify potential hazards, as well as how to eliminate or reduce them.
Health and safety procedures are not just required by law – they’re also good practice if you want to keep your staff and customers safe. If there’s an accident or emergency while they’re on your premises, you could be held liable for their injuries if it’s found that there wasn’t adequate safety precautions in place.
Your risk assessments should cover all elements of the business including:
- How many people work in the shop?
- What types of activities do they carry out? Are there any dangerous processes involved? (For example, does anyone use potentially harmful chemicals in their work?)
- Are customers likely to be exposed to any risks such as slips or falls from wet floors after rain fall during periods when foot traffic is at its highest level (e.g., rush hour).
Sourcing your coffee vs roasting your own
There are pros and cons to sourcing coffee from wholesale suppliers. It’s quite simple, really: you don’t have to roast your own beans if you don’t want to. However, there are many benefits of roasting your own coffee as well. By doing this, you can control the quality of the beans and ensure that they’re fresh when they hit your retail shelves. You can also resell them in your shop at a higher price than what is available on the market today.
The UK is a great place to open a coffee shop. The market is competitive with many established brands, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for new entrants. You need to know what you want before you start though, because starting a business in the UK can be challenging and costly if you don’t plan properly.