Congratulations! You’ve decided to follow your dream and open that coffee shop you’ve always wanted to own.
You’re in business for yourself and it feels great! Not only that, but according to the National Coffee Association (NCA), out of home coffee consumption has reached a high of 46 percent in 2017. That means, almost half of your fellow Americans are purchasing their favorite coffee drinks from mom and pop coffee houses just like yours.
Once you’ve found your ideal location, whether it’s a brick and mortar store or a mobile cafe, you’re going to need to purchase coffee shop equipment. Luckily for you, we’re here to provide some guidance on where to purchase commercial coffee grinders, espresso machines, coffee roasters, cappuccino machines and more.
Find Your Niche, Find Your Menu, Find Your Equipment
Before you can start buying equipment for your coffee shop, you’ll need to reference your business plan to understand your target audience so you can settle on a menu.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “what is a business plan?” you’re not alone, so let’s quickly recap. In short, a business plan is a written objective that provides a summary of your goals, brand identity, marketing strategies, operational structure, management, and finances. Think of this as the blueprint, or the bones of your coffee business.
Within that business plan, somewhere between your brand identity and your target audience, should lie your menu items. Afterall, who you are as a business is going to determine the customers you attract and the menu you should offer to keep them coming back for more. Knowing what you’re going to sell determines what tools, or in this case equipment, you’ll need to get the job done.
For example, if you’re going to sell items that need to be chilled and want them on display, you’re going to need a refrigerated display case. Does the display case need to be fully enclosed or partially enclosed on the top, leaving the bottom open for items customers can easily grab like bottled drinks or pre-bagged chocolate covered espresso beans?
If you’re not going to sell these types of items, don’t want them on display, or are a mobile coffee truck, a refrigerated display case is not a piece of equipment you’re going to need. Instead, you may opt for a reach-in refrigerator so that the barista can easily reach in and grab the necessary items for the customer.
Coffee Shop Equipment and Business Essentials
Finding the right coffee shop equipment for your business is only half the battle. There are other essential tools that your business will need to succeed. Let’s take a look at some of the coffee shop basics as well as some of the tools and equipment you’ll need.
General Food Service Equipment. This type of equipment can range from a standard three compartment sink for washing, rinsing and sanitizing glasses, all the way down to rubber gloves for the staff. A good point of reference here before you start buying equipment, is to contact the local health department to understand what equipment you’ll need in order to satisfy their guidelines and requirements.
Coffee Shop Equipment Basics. While your menu will determine the specific equipment you’ll need such as a panini press or hot tea urn. There are a few standard items that are relevant to any coffee house or specialty coffee shop. These include an automatic drip coffee maker, an espresso machine, coffee beans, coffee grinders, glassware, paperware, and a cold storage refrigerator and freezer. For a more detailed coffee shop equipment list, click here.
Business Management Tools. Besides buying your standard coffee shop machines, the next important item on your list should be a point-of-sale (POS) system. Since you’ve spent all this money on equipment, you want to make sure you have a POS system to track sales data so that you understand what’s selling and how much money is going back into your pockets. Since all POS systems are not created equal, make sure to take the time and research which POS system is best suited for your business.
Where to Buy Coffee Shop Equipment
Now that you’ve found your retail space and have decided on a menu, it’s time to pinpoint where to buy coffee shop equipment. Since you will be purchasing commercial items instead of machines that can be found in your average retail store, you need to think a little outside the box.
First, you’ll want to consider if you are going to buy the equipment outright or if you prefer to lease. The choice to buy or lease will have an impact on which supplier you can choose. For example, Kaldi offers leasing options, whereas other vendors may not. Some vendors offer coffee shop equipment start-up packages where you can bundle multiple pieces of equipment, adding up to more savings for the lease or purchase. Leasing equipment frees up cash flow as compared to buying, but be careful and make sure you read through the fine print, so you don’t end up paying more in the long run.
Vendors. Once you’ve decided on buying, leasing, or a combination of both, you can start to choose your vendors. A good starting point is with a simple Google search for coffee shop equipment vendors. This should result in both local and national vendors that will get you on the right path. Popular national vendors include Webstaurant Store, with five warehouses for faster shipping, and Prima Coffee Equipment. Another way to vet vendors is by visiting other local coffee shops and find out who their vendors are and what their experience has been.
Going out of business sales. This is unfortunate, but also a reality for many businesses. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), about half of all small business establishments last five years or longer. When a business closes, they often try to liquidate or sell their equipment to recoup as much money as possible before closing their doors. Enter you, the new coffee shop owner. If you know of any restaurants, bakeries, or cafes near you that are closing, it may be worth tracking down the owner to see if they are interested in selling any of the equipment. If they are, you can often purchase a variety of machinery at heavily discounted prices.
Social media and digital yard sales. This has become a popular one in today’s digital age. Social media platforms like Facebook now offer marketplaces where you can sell household or commercial items you no longer need. There are also entire platforms dedicated to this type of digital yard sale like the popular company, letgo.
Coffee shop equipment auctions. This is one you wouldn’t normally think of, but it’s a great source for buying coffee shop equipment. Companies such as Auction Zip hold auctions all across the country for restaurant equipment that range from cold storage to hot brick ovens, food trucks, and everything in between. If you find one within driving distance, it’s worth taking a ride over there and seeing what kind of bargain you can snag.
We know that opening a coffee shop isn’t as easy as it appears once you scratch below the surface. Hopefully, this quick read has helped you figure out where to buy coffee shop equipment and what your options are when it comes to selecting the right equipment for your business, without breaking the bank.