How to open a cafe successfully?

Richard Hamill
By Richard Hamill
Created on Mar 01, 2024

Although opening a cafe is not new, many people choose to start a business. However, not everyone who opens a cafe will be successful and have many customers. How can you stand firm when deciding to do business in this field? Follow the sharing of experiences in opening a coffee shop for beginners, you will certainly have many valuable lessons for your plan to open a cafe.

Research the coffee shop business market

To open a coffee shop, whether large or small, market research is paramount. You need to know:
– Who often goes to coffee shops?
– What do they come to the cafe for?
– What time period did they arrive?
– How is the decoration and service of each restaurant?

The following are some studies on consumer behavior and coffee drinking methods that successful coffee shop owners have compiled. People who come to cafes: usually male/female, with ages from 16 to 39, average frequency of drinking coffee about 2 times/week.

Female customers often choose to drink coffee at chain cafes (Du Monde, La Colombe Torrefaction, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Sightglass Coffee, Starbucks, Blue Bottle Coffee, Four Barrel Coffee...) while men choose to drink coffee at popular cafes or traditional local cafes.

About when to drink coffee: Morning before work, noon during break, evening after work. On weekends, the demand for coffee in these groups increases.

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They can go to cafes to drink coffee or gather with friends at different times. About the price of coffee: Normally, the price for a cup of coffee at popular shops ranges from 50 cents – $1/cup. In particular, the cost for 1 cup at chain cafes is $2.

Knowing this important information means you already have 30% of success in your hands. Now let's find out more with us.

Set goals for the coffee shop

If you think the goal is just to make money, it's too simple. The goal must be clear, have a specific number and completion time. Now sit down and get out your pen and paper:
– What do you want to achieve when opening a cafe?
– How much was the sales in the first 3 months? Sales in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years?
– How long does it take to break even? How long does it take to make a profit?
– How many more coffee shops do you want to open? How much time?
Remember, the clearer and more realistic the goal, the more motivated you will be to complete it.

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Create a cafe business plan

More than half of young people who open coffee shops getting failure because they are hasty and do not build a detailed business plan before taking action. Then make a draft a successful cafe business plan, you need to analyze and answer the following questions:
– Who is the potential customer group that your coffee shop is targeting? Their age, income level, work, entertainment, study habits, etc.
– Where is the area where you want to open a coffee shop? What is the area?
– Who are your direct/indirect competitors? What advantages/disadvantages do they have?
– Cafe business model of your choice: Rooftop cafe, office cafe, book, theater, fish, cat cafe, "box" cafe, garden cafe, breakfast cafe,...
– What is your cafe decoration design style? What do you want customers to feel when entering your cafe space?
– Types of coffee that you serve in your shop: Filtered coffee, Arabica coffee, Mink coffee, cherry cafe, Moka cafe, Rubusta cafe, Italian cafe, Organic Ground Coffee, Capuchino, Latte, Mocha, Americano,... Are there any additional side dishes? anymore?
– What is different about your product compared to your competitors? Why should customers enjoy coffee and drinks at your shop? How can you convey this to customers?
– Do I need a license to open a cafe? What legal procedures need to be done?
– How many employees do you need to hire to manage and operate the coffee shop?
– Total amount of money (capital) needed to put the coffee shop into operation? How much money do you have? How much loan do you need?
– Analysis table set of profits, losses, line changes at each time,...

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To get the data you need to find and synthesize in reality. Go to successful coffee shops to observe and learn how they do and operate the shop, then synthesize and make a plan. That's not all, bring this plan to your friends who are doing business in different fields to ask for their comments and suggestions. Based on the opinions collected, you can review, adjust your plan and use it in practice. It sounds like a long time, but adding this step will give you 30% more success.

The Advices for choosing a location to open a cafe

Among the factors that determine the success of a coffee shop, location accounts for 30%. Before making a decision, take time to analyze and consider the following issues:
– Is the location of the restaurant large enough?
– Are customers easy to see and find?
– Where is the restaurant's parking lot? Is it convenient?
– Traffic volume and frequency of people passing through the shop at each time? Are there many cafes and competitors around?…

Beautiful locations, good for cafe business, are intersections, areas near universities, shopping centers, office buildings, crowded residential areas,... Besides, experience Advice from coffee shop owners is that you need to clearly understand the terms of the house and premises lease contract. To avoid being asked for money, raise the price when doing business for a short time.

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Actual experience of opening a coffee shop: Normally, the rental fee for opening a cafe ranges from $300- $5000 per month depending on the area and rental location. For cafes in the countryside, rental costs will be lower.

Design and decorate your cafe & spaces

According to my experiences, you should not put too much effort into designing a shop because the amount of capital for renting, operating, and marketing the shop will be reduced and it will be difficult for you to manage and maintain operations. 

My experience in opening a cafe is that you should hire a cafe design from a professional design unit, the cost is about $6 - $10/m2 (a shop with an area of about 50m2 costs only $300). With 3D design drawings and floor structure drawings from the design unit, you will not hire these units to do the construction but do simple items yourself and find outside workers to do it, which will also help you save money. Get about 30-40% of the construction cost compared to hiring a full cafe design and construction package.

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Experience in planning coffee shop marketing

In order for you to quickly build your business network, you need to build a communication and marketing plan for your cafe about 1 month before opening. Use online communication tools such as Google map, Facebook, Instagram, ... or your external relationships to introduce and market the shop.

I suggest you some marketing programs for coffee shops such as point-of-sale marketing, promotions, using images and videos to stimulate interaction from customers, encouraging them to check in, interact, and review the shop. on social networks to receive gifts, etc.

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Besides the important issues above, the experience of many successful people opening a coffee shop involves importing ingredients, choosing a supplier, making a list of items to buy, then joining coffee-related groups. coffee to find out supplier information as well as the experience of predecessors.

Opening a coffee shop is not difficult, maintaining and developing that coffee shop is difficult. Hopefully with the experiences of opening a coffee shop that I shared above, you can imagine what you have to do to run a successful coffee shop business.

Richard Hamill

Richard Hamill

Richard Hamill is professional content writer & editor at He has 4 years of experiences in writing Interior, Home Improvement, Beauty Care Construction fields & so many others. His sharing is fully guided, giving it easy to understand.