Opening a coffee shop is not as easy as it appears, but a comprehensive coffee shop equipment list can get you started.

According to surveys from the National Coffee Association, it’s not a bad time to enter the coffee and tea business. Coffee consumption is still growing and the market has a constant need for more sources of goods, local coffee, and bakery items.

Keeping costs of production as low as possible may require finding a great, local roaster at a reasonable price to make a high-quality product. You’ll also have to become a coffee research junkie, learning about coffee consumption trends, wholesale coffee suppliers and where to get the best coffee shop equipment on the market.

For the latter, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a comprehensive coffee shop equipment list to get you started.

1. Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

Since standard, black coffee will account for some 30 percent of your store’s sales, you’ll want a coffee maker that pulls its weight. What should you look for in a coffee maker? It should be durable enough to produce a high quantity of coffee per day, quick enough to meet demand at the busiest times for customers (usually mornings), and large enough to produce sizeable batches of coffee so that you aren’t always brewing coffee throughout the day.

Most coffee shops have multiple coffee makers making multiple blends at once. Just remember not to stretch yourself too far. Most successful coffee shop owners suggest keeping three or four blends available at a time, for simplicity while maintaining variety.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of the highest rated automatic drip coffee makers to compliment your coffee shop equipment list.

2. A High-Quality Espresso Machine

Many typical coffee drinks that your customers are likely to order have an element of espresso, either by itself or in combination with steamed milk, so you’ll need an excellent espresso machine. Unfortunately, the industrial espresso machine market is sprawling and some of the higher quality machines can cause your budget for capital to skyrocket, so it’s important to understand what makes a good espresso machine and how to shop intelligently to get the best value when you land on the right one.

Here’s a guide on how to shop for espresso machines, including the qualities of high-quality espresso equipment, and what to look for when making a purchase.

espresso machine - coffee shop equipment list

3. An Industrial Coffee Grinder

Since most coffee shops keep unground beans in inventory to account for the freshness of their coffee, you’ll want to grind your own immediately before making a new pot. That means adding an industrial coffee grinder to your coffee shop equipment list. People don’t typically realize that the right grinder can make all the difference in the flavor profiles and the aroma of your coffee or espresso. This is why it’s so important to invest in the right grinder.

Check out this in-depth analysis of the best commercial coffee grinders on the market to find one that meets your store’s needs and your budget.

SEE ALSO: How Much Should I Charge for a Cup of Coffee?

4. Milk and Water

We cheated a little on this one; while not technically “equipment” the right liquids used to make and mix with coffee drinks can make a huge difference in the quality of your products.

Milk: If you think that milk doesn’t vary too much, boy, would you be wrong! Here’s a breakdown of the factors to consider with milk in terms of mixing it with coffee and steaming it for lattes and cappuccinos.

Water: Here’s where the coffee shop equipment ties in: you may need to add a filtration system to your list in order extend the life of your espresso machine and improve the taste of your coffee, which, by the way, is 98 percent water. If your water’s mineral content is too high, it can ruin your equipment. Hence, the need for a good filtration system.

cup of coffee - coffee shop equipment list

5. Refrigeration System

When you open your coffee shop, you’ll have food to keep fresh and dairy products to refrigerate. This requires refrigeration both in display cases and counter fridge units behind the bar.

Refrigeration must be taken into consideration when you design your coffee shop. Other things that must be considered in the design? It must be aesthetically pleasing but streamlined enough for the baristas to quickly make customers’ drinks. Here’s our breakdown on how to achieve the best coffee shop design.

You’ll also want the display cases and other refrigeration units to stay within the theme of the room and not jeopardize the streamlined bar areas. Here is a prime example of a design that incorporates smart refrigeration into the concept. Regardless of what type of coffee or food you decide to serve in your coffee shop, a refrigeration system is a must-have to include on your coffee shop equipment list.

6. Containers, Pumps and Assorted Miscellaneous

Since coffee shops necessitate the use of a large amount of beans and a huge selection of drink toppings, you must have the hardware to effectively use and store these items. This means pumps for all the syrups, boxes and crates to conveniently store coffee beans near your coffee makers, and simple answers to all the storage issues that plague some coffee shops.

If you don’t have an effective system for storage, your business will run less efficiently, driving you and your employees crazy, as well as diminishing profits over the long run. Partner with a local or reliable restaurant supply retailer, buy in bulk and plan your system out carefully and effectively.

7. Ovens, Toasters, and Devices Used for Cooking

If your coffee shop has a small selection of hot food, which one survey found is the case with at least 60 percent of coffee and tea shops out there, you’ll need a reliable way to prepare your food quickly, so as not to hold up the efficiency of your operation.

Most stores serve breakfast sandwiches, or at least bagels and pastries, which will necessitate either a conveyor toaster or a pop-up model; a full commercial toaster buying guide for the new restaurant owner can be found here.

If you have frozen breakfast sandwiches, similar to big chains like Starbucks, you’ll want a quick but compact oven (or two) that baristas have easy access to without clogging the entire front-of-house operation. Here are a few of the fastest, most effective modern ovens, as far better alternatives than the dreaded microwave.

slice of toast at coffee shop - coffee shop equipment list

8. Security System

Every mercantile business needs an excellent system to deter crime in and around their business. This may include security equipment such as cameras, burglar alarms (both in the coffee shop and on the front and back doors). In addition, consider implementing systems for proper oversight to prevent employees from helping themselves to too much of your product, giving away too many complimentary drinks, or lifting cash from the register.

There are a wide variety of choices on the market for security products and surveillance equipment. You’ll want to find a company that will oversee installation and has experience and expertise preventing crime near your business. Profit loss from theft or other calamity is something you don’t need as you enter the market with a new store.

Here’s a handy guide outlining the things you should consider when creating a security plan for your business.

9. Shelving

One of the most underrepresented and under-appreciated items on a coffee shop equipment list is adequate shelving.

Most coffee shops sell merchandise, bulk coffee, mugs, and coffee equipment like french presses and other accessories as a way to make additional money outside of the primary business of slinging drinks.

Both in the public area of the store, and behind the counter for the convenience of the baristas, shelving is a must. Convenient shelf units can be the difference between a coffee shop that doesn’t have the space to allow much seating and appears cluttered and chaotic and one that is aesthetically pleasing.

Additionally, if the baristas in your shop don’t have proper storage, essential items will have to be stored farther away, hurting their ability to remain quick and efficient with customers.

10. Freezers and Cold Product Storage

If you do intend to follow the ever successful Starbucks model for food and drink combinations, you’ll need freezers, both in the front of your coffee shop where your baristas work, as well as in the back where inventory is stored.

A selection of frozen food that can be flash-baked in the oven should be kept up front for baristas to have easy access for orders. Since frozen food is easy to store and has a long shelf life, you should store a surplus in the back so you never run out.

For a guide to freezers, both large and compact, with considerable longevity and durability, check out this article. Also, depending on the size of your inventory, you may also need a walk-in cooler or freezer.

11. A Few Industrial Blenders

In 2013, a consumer survey found that the recent market for blended drinks had grown by 20 percent. Today, it’s no secret that blended drinks, especially seasonal drinks, are all the rage among coffee consumers. You’ll need at least one blender to capitalize on the blended frozen drink craze.

Here is a buyer’s guide for purchasing a high-quality blender for a coffee shop. Don’t be shocked if top quality products run up your budget. You’ll want equipment that won’t break when your store starts making hundreds of frozen drinks daily for eager customers.

glass of iced coffee - coffee shop equipment list

12. POS System and Related Hardware

Without an efficient and reliable point of sale system, your business can be slowed down by lags in payment processing, poor inventory management and untimely services and repairs. But if your POS is cloud-based, you won’t have to worry about tracking your data or inventory because the system will help you do it all. Luckily, cloud-based POS systems are not only lightning fast, but reliable as well.

But these systems are so much more than bundles of software and hardware. In one ergonomic terminal, you will also have the power to track your business’ analytics and profits, keep track of inventory, and oversee email marketing to bring in new customers.

You may need all items on this coffee shop equipment list, or just a few. There is no absolute recipe for success when opening a coffee shop. To understand what will work for you, be aware of the demographic you are serving as well as their needs and wants.

Once you’ve finalized your coffee shop equipment list, you’re free to focus on the other things that make or break a coffee shop business: selecting your cashiers and baristas, designing your store and merchandise, creating a recognizable brand, and choosing your products carefully. Once you’ve got a great business plan and the equipment necessary to streamline your business, you can start bringing in profits and thriving in the growing market!

Yamarie Grullon

Yamarie Grullon has years of experience creating helpful & engaging content for small business owners. As Director of Content Strategy at ShopKeep, the #1-rated iPad Point of Sale System, Yamarie provides merchants with practical advice on all things related to business or point of sale.