Coffee Shop Equipment List: The Essentials You Need to Start a Café
Great location and café design will do you little good unless you get great coffee shop equipment. Besides the venue itself, the equipment is also the most expensive part of the business. Just to give you an idea, an espresso machine alone might set you back more than $30,000.
Okay, a 30K espresso machine may be an overkill for a startup coffee shop, but you do need a high volume machine that can churn out about 250 cups per day. Plus, there are the professional grinder, drip coffee maker, refrigerators, mixers, and an assortment of odds and ends you need to run your café successfully.
This article will provide a quick shopping list for up-and-coming café owners with some tips and tricks along the way.
Coffee Shop Equipment 101
“Try and start small and start cheap. And if you need extra machines or a bigger machine, you can always move up.” – Aquaspresso
A Commercial Grade Espresso Machine
As an essential piece of gear that earns you money, a commercial espresso machine is undoubtedly the most important. The Aquaspresso tip does say to start small and cheap, but this doesn’t mean you should skimp on the espresso machine. It is best to look for a good balance of machine output, built quality, and an optimal number of group heads.
For example, small-to-medium coffee shops do great with a semi-automatic machine with two group heads. It means you’ll be able to make four coffees at the time or have two baristas at the machine.
If you are wondering, commercial espresso machines can be cheap, but you should aim for a $10,000+ model.
There is a great selection of La Marzocco Linea machines at Kaldi. The machines from the Linea range cost between $10,000 and $20,000, and there are different financing options for each model. Here's a guide to the cost of an espresso machine.
Water Filtration System
Good water is the backbone of great coffee. Installing a good water filtration system can influence the coffee quality for the better. In general, coffee shop owners go for reverse osmosis filtration which clears impurities and helps remineralize the water. Alkaline water is en vogue at the moment and can help with acidity in some types of coffee.
“Water isn’t just an ingredient added to roasted coffee seeds; it can transform the character of a coffee and make or break its flavor.” – Clara Lu, Mitte Water
Given the fact that almost 99% of coffee is water, this ingredient may be as important as the beans (1). Water filtration systems that can support the needs of a coffee shop don’t need to be expensive. You should be able to get a great one for about $1,000 or less. But it’s important to test the water first to determine exactly what kind of filtration system would be best for your business.
A commercial burr grinder
Pair a poor coffee grinder with an excellent machine and the espresso just won’t taste right. This is why you need to spend a bit more to get a really good grinder. There are automatic and manual models, and some can provide different types of grind for espresso, drip, or French press, for example (2).
In addition, you can get a digital measurement tool to zero in on every grind. Of course, more features and fancy additions usually mean a higher price. However, the Baratza Sette 270Wi-Grind is a good budget-friendly.
Chances are you also plan to serve juices, food, or sweets at your coffee shop. Needless to say, at least one industrial/professional refrigerator is a must. Plus, you’ll also need an ice machine and perhaps a freezer. The size and capacity of this equipment depends on your needs.
However, get at least one medium-size/capacity refrigerator and ice machine. The prices vary from under $1,000 all the way up to $3,000+.
At the start, it’s OK to get a smaller and cheaper, under-the-counter ice maker, then scale up later if necessary.
Remember, a good coffee machine and grinder are essential. You can make some compromises on the other gear.
The popularity of drip brewers has been on the vane. Nevertheless, you may consider getting one, especially if you serve a lot of customers in the morning. In addition, this piece of equipment is relatively inexpensive and can turn into a real money maker for some cafes (3).
“In 2018, 36% (people/adults) consumed a coffee that was prepared out-of-home…” – National Coffee Association
In terms of coffee shop equipment, the bare essentials include the following:
- coffee grinder
- an espresso machine
- a water filtration system
- a drip brewer
Depending on the variety of coffee types you want to offer, you will also need one or some of the following:
- French Presses
- Decanters or cold brew makers
- Coffee drippers
- A coffee siphon
Of course, you’ll also need some expendables such as cups, glasses, teaspoons, etc. These equipment will set you back between $15,000 and $25,000, and if you nail the coffee quality, you might soon be looking to upgrade your equipment. When that moment comes, however, cost shouldn’t be a big concern.
How much does an average coffee shop make a day?
An average coffee shop makes about 250 cups of coffee a day and the average price per cup is about $3. That’s a revenue of $750 on coffee alone. If you add other drinks or food, the number may go well over $1,000. Here's a guide on coffee shop profits.
How do I set up a coffee shop?
To set up a coffee shop, you need a business plan and a good venue. Then you need to find the resources to fund the project and hire people to put it all in action. Depending on the size and type of the establishment, it may take more than a few months from start to opening day.
How can I promote my coffee shop?
You can use digital and traditional methods to promote your coffee shop. In this day and age, it is advisable to focus your efforts on digital. Social media should be an integral part of your online marketing strategy. Also, if you want to go big quickly and need massive exposure, you might want to consider teaming up with a social media influencer that’s popular with your target group.
- The Golden Ratio for Brewing Coffee. (2019, May 2). Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://fellowproducts.com/the-golden-ratio-for-coffee-brewing/
- Goodman, P. (2018, November 5). Blade vs. Burr: A Guide to the Different Types of Coffee Grinders. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://delishably.com/beverages/The-different-types-of-grinder-for-coffee
- National Coffee Association. (2018, September 26). By the Numbers: US Coffee Consumption. Retrieved July 2, 2019, from https://nationalcoffee.blog/2018/09/26/by-the-numbers-us-coffee-consumption/