They say that planning is the best part of every project. And if you’re thinking of opening a coffee shop, café, or adding some coffee equipment to an already existing business, there’s a lot of fun to be had.
Being knowledgeable in coffee, coffee machines, and how they work is extremely helpful if you’re interested in opening your place and don’t know where to start. Whether you don’t have a lot of knowledge or need some help planning, we’re here to help you.
We’ve put together a list of all the equipment you need to open up a coffee shop
Coffee Grinder and Scale
Purchase an automatic burr grinder for your shop. The bigger the cone, the less time spent reloading it, which is ideal. Whether it has any other features is up to you, just a sturdy grinder with enough capacity so that it can keep up with the workload you plan to give it.
A manual grinder is a must for coarser grinding, specialty coffee, and special occasions.
In terms of scales, we like to have at least two scales in our working space. There’s always one being used for either Hario pour-over or the French Press. That leaves one that you’ll want to have by the grinder.
Espresso Machine & Others
For making coffee with maximum proficiency, you’re going to need a commercial level espresso machine. Breville offers a wide range of machines that are neither too personal nor too commercially-oriented.
Gaggia also makes compact machines that are perfect for small to medium spaces. Aim for semi or fully automatic machines, two groupheads at least. While it is better to have integrated features like scale, digital display, and grinder, it is by no means necessary.
A Hario V60 is one of the most used brewing methods for black coffee. Without too much hassle you can make black coffee in batches during busy mornings in less than 5 minutes. Two V60s with their corresponding decanters will be enough to start you off.
Seeing the Barista make their coffee using a French press will inspire confidence in your customers, leaving them with a good impression. If you have a stove nearby, you could also purchase a Moka Pot.
Coffeemakers are not our thing but, in the end, they are incredibly practical for making coffee fast and at a consistent quality. If you’re running a large operation or would like to economize as much as possible, one of these could do much of the Barista’s work for them. They are not recommended for coffee enthusiasts.
With water filtration, you make sure no foreign taste is added to your coffee drinks along with the water. Additionally, they remove calcium. This calcium would stick to any machines you use that need water to function, like the espresso machine.
The iSpring RCC7 is what they call a no-brainer. The system is designed to remove chlorine, lead, and other minerals from the water. It also works as a water softener. Although it’s a pain to do the installation yourself, they have helpful customer service to guide you through installation.
If you’re against having to install a product yourself, CoWay has a water purifier that, apart from looking good in your shop, is easy to use and they are one of the best players in the game.
As a last resort, you could also use bottled water for your shop or sink water, if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where tap water is good enough.
A small, glass door refrigerator is a Barista’s preferred option. It does not get in your way, and since the door is see-through, you don’t have the excuse that you ran out of milk because you didn’t notice there wasn’t any left. It’s right there, you can see it!
If (and only if) you want to purchase a bigger unit, then it would be in your best interest to not store milk and foodstuffs together. The smell will transfer to your milk’s flavor, and will most likely ruin the coffee.
A bigger unit than the refrigerator is recommended. This is to be kept relatively (entirely if possible) hidden from the customers’ sight.
You will be using this freezer to store mostly green coffee beans or roasted coffee beans and to produce ice for drinks that require it. Ice cream for frappe will also go here.
Depending on the size of your project, you’ll want a different size beer fridge.
We recommend a small, one-door fridge for showcasing local or craft beer and a back bar fridge for storage.
You might have this covered if you have a kitchen, but it is still good to note.
A microwave next to your working area is going to be a life-saver… for those picky customers who just need their coffee warmed up. It can also help if you ever need to serve food that’s gone cold. Serving cold food with coffee is the same as serving cold coffee. Don’t!
One thing that’s saved my life, and that is popular with clients is the electric griller. This beauty lets you heat up and give a nice touch to any sandwich or baked goods that you need to heat up before serving quickly.
A real swiss-army knife is this incredible machine (linked below). It has all the functions you could ever need— you’ll be set with just this one.
- The Ninja Foodi Grill. The grill that sears, sizzles, and air fry crisps. Indoor grill and air fryer
- 500F air circulates around food for amazing Surround Searing while the 500F high-density grill grate creates char-grilled marks and flavors, for food that's perfectly cooked on the inside and char-grilled on every side with Cyclonic Grilling Technology
- With the BTU cooking power of an outdoor grill, it brings outdoor grill flavors conveniently to your countertop any day of the year
- Forgot to defrost dinner? Transform foods from frozen to perfectly char-grilled in 25 minutes.Dishwasher Safe Components
- Air fry crisp with up to 75% less fat than deep frying (tested against hand-cut, deep-fried French fries), using the included 4-qt crisper basket
When it comes to one-time things such as disposable coffee cups to go, napkins and stirrers, it’s always good to plan to have ahead of time. Once you’re set in what kind of material you’d like to use, you can go ahead and explore your options and suppliers based on that. (Check out Brand My Cafe’s catalog, here!)
Recycling is good, but depending on your area, it can mean a substantial amount of money. Save your efforts for after you’ve established your shop rather than going all-out with expensive eco-friendly products at first.
For coffee, the modus operandi in most coffee shops is to keep different roasts in different containers and out in the open. It’s always better to keep them away from the sunlight.
For tea, dried tea leaves are as sensitive as coffee beans. Therefore they should be given the same treatment. These can spend several weeks in a glass container, given they’ve been dried, without compromising their taste.
These are meant for cocoa powder, cinnamon, etc. You’ll want to keep smaller glass containers for these spices for use at the counter, but plastic containers are the most practical way to handle storage of spices and condiments.
Less traditional glasses are the Irish coffee glass, the espresso shot glass, café au lait bowls.
These are the espresso cups. They have a capacity of 2.4 oz. You’ll be using this for serving and for making other coffees, so we suggest you buy one extra set to use for preparing other drinks. They are available in different sizes, but 2.4 ounces is the standard.
With an average capacity of 6 oz, these cups are great as multi-purpose cups. You can use them for a latte, tea, hot chocolate. Porcelain is an affordable choice and it’s durable.
9 oz should be purchased for special drinks and iced coffee, although you can also serve those in standard glasses that you’d use for water, etc.
Once you’ve settled on the espresso machine, you can decide how many pitchers you want: two pitchers for each group head is a good number.
Stainless steel is the traditional material used, and we do recommend it. Get yourself 20 oz milk pitchers; you don’t need smaller or bigger pitchers than that.
As for any other features, thermometers can be bought separately though it’s more convenient buying pitchers that indicate temperature.
Measured pitchers are a big plus!
These are great for effectively calculating doses, and they save time. Some commercial dispensers are pretty good. If you’d like transparent commercial dispensers, you can purchase some soap dispensers since they are much better designed.
If you don’t buy transparent ones, you must label them because otherwise, it’s really easy to ruin an order with one small pump. Buy big labels, write in big letters, or color-code your dispensers.
Clothing might fall under personal taste, but our experience tells us that working with coffee makes for a lot of mess, and a lot of coffee stains. Dark-colored shirts are the best you can do for you and your employees to hide those awful coffee stains.
Investing in an apron for your baristas is vital if you want to improve their performance. A good apron lets them work without fear of ending up dirty. They’ll also be able to use the apron to store things they’ll need like a notebook, a pen, and other tools. A good apron with plenty of pockets is, without a doubt, the easiest way to improve productivity.
For pour-over coffee, you’ll need a gooseneck kettle. Electric or with a thermometer are both a plus. Remember that if you have more than one pour over the machine. For example, one Hario, one Chemex. You’ll want more than one just in case you’re brewing simultaneously.
For other purposes, a regular kettle will do the job just fine; you don’t need gooseneck for everything. We like to use a thermometer to measure water temperature, although some electric kettles come with a built-in thermometer that is likely more accurate.
Other Tools and Accessories
Barista spoons and special tools for latte art, like an etching pen, are inexpensive and valuable additions to your shop.
Cocoa and cinnamon shakers specifically for coffee drinks that have several different shapes/consistencies.
Wooden/metal tampers, a tamper mat, and a knock-out box are necessary for the Barista. Invest in good quality because the smallest difference here goes a long way later on.
Keeping your equipment squeaky clean is essential. This keeps them functioning at their peak level even after years of use, and it’s not that hard. There are supplies aimed for your specific needs: Coffee grinder cleaner, brushes for getting coffee grounds out of those places where they always seem to get stuck, and so on.
The pickier you are about cleanliness of your equipment, the longer it’ll last. Additionally, fewer complaints you’ll get from either your workers and customers.
A Good Source of Information
Ever forgotten the exact amount of coffee grounds needed to make a triple shot Ristretto? We have had this problem before. It’s bound to happen to you more than you would think. No matter how good you know your stuff, chances are you’ll either forget or encounter something new while working.
We suggest having at your workplace at least one designated device for looking up stuff quick. That way you don’t have to reach for your iPhone, which may come across as rather unprofessional. Keep either a tablet or a computer nearby for emergency cases.
Books are also helpful to have laying around just in case. We recommend “The coffee dictionary”, and “Coffee isn’t rocket science”. Both are easy-to-read books for beginners that can be helpful for everybody and could prove an interesting read to your customers as well.
All the Equipment You Need to Open Up a Coffee Shop
Now that you’ve gone through the list of all the equipment you need to open up a coffee shop, you can start doing some math. Remember that most of the things here are related to each other.
If you’re only buying one Hario V60 for pour-over coffee, you’re not going to need more than one gooseneck kettle. The same way that if you’re buying a small, two grouphead espresso machine, you won’t need to have any more than four milk pitchers.
Start by defining the big things and then the smaller, less important ones will be cleared out automatically.
Thanks for reading with us today! Ensure you have all the tools and education needed to conquer the small-business-world. Check out these essential Brand My Cafe articles: How to Be a Barista 101, How to Motivate an Employee Who’s Underperforming in Your Cafe, 8 Things You Should Know Before Opening a Coffee Shop, or even Why You Need Custom Coffee Sleeves for Your Business!
Thank you for reading! Become a part of our exclusive Facebook Group, Food Service Brand Builders— a space dedicated for cafe, restaurant, and food service business owners to share helpful tips and experiences of owning a small business.