Coffee Shop Business Models – Part 2

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Coffee Shop Business Models 2

This is the second part of our business models article. If you haven’t read part 1, you might want to head over to Coffee Shop Business Models – The Full Guide Part 1.

3. Themed Coffee Shop Models

If you have a love for something, and also want a career in the coffee industry, then a themed café could be the perfect opportunity for you to embrace both.

Your passion will always shine through when running your themed coffee shop. But you could come across a lot of hurdles along the way.

However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be a load of fun. You will be around people who have the same interest as you, love to talk about the same things and want to enjoy themselves as much as you do.

One thing to think about here though is setup costs. Cost is certainly an important attribute of your business and it’s probably the one thing that will need the most monitoring when breaking into the ‘themed café’ market.

So, in this section we are introducing you to a few different styles of themed coffee shops.

We’re giving you some key nuggets of information to help if you decide on taking the big leap of faith into running your own.

Also, if you’re looking for more inspiration, there a various links for you to follow to other websites, which are sure to help you on your quest for success.

3 Examples of a Themed Coffee Shop

Cat Café

Cat Café’s are all the rage in 2019 and beyond. The people of today aren’t afraid of having animals with them while drinking their coffee or nibbling on their afternoon snacks.

Customers tend to have an area where they will lay down and play with the cats, while at the same time having the opportunity to learn more about their feline friends.

Having cats around you is said to be extremely therapeutic. It has even been known for cat cafés to have a bistro area. So, you could expand your business if it makes sense to do so.

Board Games Café

Keeping people in your coffee shop to buy your products can be tough. But when they are in there, then at least you have a much better chance of selling something.

One way to keep them in, is to give the punters something to play, such as board games.

Some board games can last forever, which is good and bad.

It’s good because it means people are associating themselves with your business. But it could be bad if they are simply taking up space for free and not buying any of your products.

One way around this might be to charge a small fee for the time they spend at the tables and/or on the board games.

Board game coffee shops have seen some amazing success in some areas of the world.

So why not give it a go?

Simply get hold of some old board games and build out your supplies from there.

TV Show (Friends)

If you’re stuck for ideas, try to pick one of your favourite TV shows and design your business around that.

Sound crazy?

Not so crazy.

In around 2012, there was a coffee shop set up in Liverpool City Centre called Central Perks.

That’s right, it had the same name as the café on the TV show – Friends.

Everything about the café resembled the show. They had the same sofas, stools and even light fittings.

People visited the store from all over the world and, at one point, the coffee shop obtained a 4.7 star rating on Trip advisor.

There are hundreds of types of interests and we may not have covered yours here. So, don’t be afraid to try a different theme if there’s something you are passionate about.

If you’re looking for even more inspiration, have a read of this article which provides a list of the 20 most amazing themed cafes around the world.

Important Attributes of a Themed Coffee Shop

Fixtures & Fittings Could Set You Back

You want your place to be the best you can make it. Especially if it resembles your passion.

As part of this, your fixtures and fittings will need to be up-to-scratch.

That means, you won’t want to leave any stone unturned when it comes to giving your customers the experience they are expecting.

With that said, careful planning and implementation will be crucial. Even more so, if you have time constraints against your initial opening day.

Remember to keep a very close eye on costs, because whatever you spend here will need to be reflected in the price of your products and services when you open your doors.

High Footfall Could Determine Your Success

Choosing a great location for your business could be the difference of success and failure.

It’s sometimes said that people don’t decide what they are doing until they have done it.

So, if they happen to walk past your door and make a split-second decision to come in, you will prosper from unexpected trade.

On the other hand, if you are hidden away and they never walk past – they may also never make that split-second decision to go in.

That’s not to say you can’t make a success if you are hidden away.

It just means you will need to do more marketing so that people make the conscious effort to come to your place of business for an experience and coffee or a cake.

Your Equipment List & Setup Guidance

We’ve already talked about the importance of fixtures and fittings in a themed coffee shop.

So, let’s now tell you some of the essential equipment you will need.

Then, we will give you some setup guidance so that you can do a bit of crucial planning.

Machine Type

For this type of business, you will need a 2 group 12 litre boiler espresso coffee machine as you will be dialling in espresso shots regularly.

By purchasing one of these, you will be guaranteed to fulfil the demand of the customers in the short time they expect to be served.

Speak to one of our team if you need more advice on purchasing a coffee machine.

Coffee Menu

It’s likely you will have an ambitious interior setup with a themed café. Therefore, you should keep your menu as simple as possible.

By keeping it simple, your staff will be able to easily remember how to ensure the food and drink is consistent. Leaving them more time to get involved with the themed experience of your business.


Due to setup and running costs, you should be charging a premium price for your food, drink and other services.

If you offer things other than food and drink, then be sure to generate a revenue from these extra benefits that you’re giving to your customers.

Remember, you will have bills to pay and you need to make sure you generate an income from your efforts of running a business. Particularly in the long run.


It can be difficult to find staff who have the same passion as you for your business. However, it is crucial that you find a team who love your theme as much as you do.

If they don’t LOVE IT, they will never embrace it and the service will eventually go down-hill.


Expect to work long hours, as in any business.

Opening times will need to be 7 days per week so you can take advantage of people who have time on their hands.

Opening early in the morning and closing early afternoon is usually a good rule of thumb for this type of coffee shop.

The Constraints of a Themed Café

One of the main constraints when setting up this type of business, is the change in taste of consumers – i.e. knowing what’s fashionable now.

What’s fashionable today can disappear in an instant.

Therefore, be prepared to monitor the changes in consumer tastes within your chosen theme. And make changes to keep up with demand.

4. Town/City Coffee Shop

One of the most lucrative places to own a coffee shop is in the centre of a large town or city. That’s because the footfall is extremely high, and you can appeal to shoppers from all over.

That doesn’t mean growing a coffee shop business in the town centre is without its challenges.

One of the toughest elements will be the up-front investment required for entering the town centre. It often comes with high rental bills and the importance of finding a great location.

So, in the below sections we are introducing you to a few different styles of town and city coffee shops. And giving you important considerations to make if you’re thinking of moving your business into the city.

Let’s dive right in.

3 Examples of a Town/City Coffee Shop

With the increased number of coffee shops popping up, it’s important to niche your business. Regardless of where you are located.

What’s more, if you can choose a theme that has high appeal, then you will significantly increase your chances of success.

Below are 3 examples of models that are currently working well in the city.

1.      Vegan Deva in Chester

They do exactly what it says on the tin.

Vegan Deva is purely a vegan café located in Chester, Since the beginning of 2019, the popularity of vegan has risen dramatically.

If you enter a niche that is expected to increase in popularity, you could be onto a winner.

Vegan Deva offer a selection of Panini’s and sweet treats, alongside drinks, such as smoothies.

Their hot drinks menu covers all the classics and the superior-quality coffees are made with Fairtrade Honduras coffee beans from a Women’s Co-operative farm.

They also focus on the use of soya milk or Oatly Barista, which is clearly mentioned on their menu.

Finally, they offer a selection of alcoholic drinks including beers and Malbec wines, which is a good idea if you want to appeal to customers looking for that extra bit of relaxation after work.

On that note, if you’re opening a café in the city centre, it’s worthwhile thinking about which products will appeal at different times of the day so that you can maximise revenues when coffee sales drop.

2.      American Style – Moose in Manchester

Moose Coffee lives 100% by their values of American dining. They keep their menu solely to American style food, meaning they don’t even sell the classic full English breakfast.

And it works. They now have locations in multiple cities, including Liverpool and Manchester.

They ensure that their coffee is brewed to perfection and served either hot or cold.

Moose has recently expanded their operations to include Deliveroo orders, which opens their appeal up to a much wider range of customers.

As part of this, they offer added catering services, which can have a huge impact on revenues when you’re located in the city centre.

Doing so, also increases their convenience value, which is a key part of surviving in the city centre.

Catering is a great service for offices who want to provide lunch or buffets to their workforce and clients.

3.      Great British Diner – Rubens in Liverpool

One of Rubens coffee shops is based in Albert Dock, Liverpool city centre.

It’s a perfect example of a City Centre Diner. They put a lot of focus on the expert quality of their coffee, while offering a selection of meals alongside alcoholic beverages.

Their menu includes local Liverpool classics such as Beef Scouse. This is a great way to appeal to tourists who are looking for a taste of the local delicacies.

The location, Albert Docks are very busy and in a historic part of the town. This Rubens therefore receives a very high level of footfall during all times of the year.

Important Attributes of a Town/City Coffee Shop

Quick Service

Most people in the city centre are in a rush! They want to be in and out as quickly as possible. Queues and waiting for drinks are big negatives if you’re operating in the city centre.

Over time, people will think – “I’m not going in there because it always takes ages to get served”

One way to make sure you serve people quickly is to have the right number of staff on who can immediately attend to customers, especially during busy periods. Another way is to keep your menu simple as we discuss below.

Coffee Focused

If your coffee isn’t up to standard, then you might not even make it through your first year.

All the examples we have looked at above are particularly focused on selling great coffee and using high quality beans to do so. They also make sure they have top notch equipment to consistently maintain a high standard of service.

Do you want to provide a unique blend or have a coffee in mind you want to sell?

Get in touch with our expert team to discuss how Adams + Russell can help you on your way to city centre success.

Takeaway Driven

Nearly everyone that comes into your city centre store in the morning are usually on their way to work and looking for a takeaway.

That’s why it’s vital that you offer all the ingredients for a perfect takeaway cup of coffee.

From Drinks holders to cup sleeves, they all matter when trying to beat the competition.

Takeaways aren’t just limited to drinks, offering takeaway food is also an essential part of appealing to customers in the city centre.

We’ve already seen above that moving with the times in your operations, products and services is vital to being able to survive in the city centre.

Where takeaways are concerned, that might include biodegradable cups and sustainable driven services, such as discount for bringing your own (BYO) reusable cups, are vital.

Your Coffee Machine & Setup Guidance

When choosing a coffee machine, it’s important to choose one that has a high capacity. That’s so it can cope with busy periods.

Think about how many coffees you are likely to be making per hour and make sure you have the machine and equipment to deal with the maximum capacity.

Delivering high quality coffee, consistently is crucial for your business to survive in the city centre and investing in your equipment will help a lot towards that.

For example, an on-demand grinder will help deliver consistency.  It grinds straight into the filter holder and does so with great consistency. Fresh coffee is delivered each time for the best espresso possible.

Dyno metric tampers are also worth considering, to ensure the perfect coffee every time

All your equipment should be quick and easy to use. Meaning you can train new staff quickly and they can serve customers quickly too.

Coffee Menu

All menus should be easy to translate and quick to serve. You could offer a filter option if it helps during busy periods.

Here are the links to the coffee menus of the example coffee shops we gave above.

Vegan Deva Menu

Moose Coffee Menu

Rubens Coffee Menu


Pricing needs to reflect the costs of being in the city centre. Therefore, premium pricing is often the only option.

If you are based in a hidden part of town, running costs might be lower and therefore you can reduce your prices slightly.

On the other hand, if you are offering high levels of convenience and in a prime location, your pricing needs to reflect that.


As in most businesses, the team will need to be energetic and customer focused.

At the same time, they will need to be process driven.

Processes you put in place to deliver quick, consistent service must be adhered to by your team.

Good levels of training and solid processes will help you overcome the pressure and demanding requirements for running a city centre coffee shop.

Hours & Opening Times

Rush hour will be your pinch points. Meaning most people will come in for a drink and bite to eat before work and after work. Lunch could also be a key time of day for you.

You are highly likely to see rushes of customers and see it quickly die down thereafter.

They will all want serving as soon as they enter and probably get impatient if they don’t get what they want as quickly as possible.

Some city centre coffee shops open around 8am.

However, you might find that the bigger chains near you are opening their doors at 7am or even 6am.

So, if you want to take their customers, you will need to see what’s happening around the area to decide your opening hours.

Once the afternoon rush is over, you will be able to take an early close – usually around 6pm.

When deciding your opening times, it’s crucial to check what is happening in the area so you don’t miss out on crucial sales.

Example Opening Times:

Mon-Fri           7am – 6pm

Saturday         8am – 6pm

Sunday           8am – 4pm

The Constraints of a Town/City Café

One of the biggest challenges of running a coffee shop in the city centre is the huge difference between low sales and high sales.

Weekdays, at rush hour, will prove to be your busy periods and be funding the ability to open on weekends, when it will be much quieter.

Staffing levels always need to be maintained with the expectation that a mass of people will come through your doors without notice.

You will also find that loyalty is rare, and customers are transient. Especially in comparison to running a community coffee shop.

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