Coffee Shop Startup Costs: How to Open Your Own Café

Coffee Shop Startup Costs_ How to Open Your Own Café

The dream of owning a coffee shop is an aspiration for all kinds of people across the United States. The aroma of freshly ground beans, the hiss of the espresso machine, the sweet scent of baked goods, and the smiles of happy customers all have an irresistible allure. It’s no wonder everyone wants to open their own coffee shop! And did you know that 64 percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day? That’s a lot of people. And a whole lot of coffee!

Owning your own coffee shop can be a wonderful way to own your own business in a thriving industry that has also been called “recession-proof.” Add that to a market you can be passionate about while also maintaining a work-life balance, and it’s clear why so many people want to join in.

Before you get ahead of yourself though, there are some things that you need to consider. It’s important to understand your coffee shop startup costs, and know exactly what you’re getting into before you decide to get brewing.

What Expenses Come With Opening a Coffee Shop?

The first thing you need to understand is exactly what you have to buy in order to open a coffee shop. There’s a lot more to it than just coffee beans and cute mugs. Here’s a small example of some of the expenses for your coffee shop startup costs.

Rent and Build-Out Expenses

Before you open your coffee shop, you have to have a place to put it. Depending on your square footage and your location, this price can vary greatly. Your build-out expenses are made up of a number of different things. These can include your franchise fee, architecture and engineering costs, point-of-sale system and software, signage, and other additional expenses.

Coffee Equipment

How are you supposed to make world-class coffee without the right equipment? You’re not going to set up a Mr. Coffee and call it a day! You’re going to need coffee grinders for both regular beans and espresso, a high-quality espresso machine, high-capacity drip coffee brewers, blenders, a fridge, and more. Depending on what you buy, the cost can fluctuate, but it can get expensive fast.


You have your space, you’ve invested in your equipment, now you need amazing coffee beans to create world-class coffee. That’s in addition to other key items like milk and syrups. Because every coffee shop and market are different, so is the amount of inventory you’ll want to have on hand. You should have a strong idea of your projected sales before investing in inventory so you can make an informed decision.


Like many of the other considerations, this expense isn’t necessarily a fixed cost. It’s going to be determined by the size of your location and how busy you are. The most important part of staffing your coffee shop is putting together a great team of baristas you can rely on for amazing service led by a strong manager.

What Kind of Coffee Shop are You Running Here?

Now that you know what goes into a store, it’s time to decide exactly what kind of coffee shop you want to open. Are you looking to set up a stand in an area with high foot-traffic and low overhead, like in a mall or a hospital? Maybe you’re hoping to get in on the food truck craze. Do you dream of a cozy café with big, comfy couches? You’ll have fewer customers, but they might stay longer and order more drinks. What about a drive-thru coffee store? A drive-thru gives you the opportunity to have a brick-and-mortar location while serving a world-class product to as many customers as possible. Here’s a breakdown of available options so you can see what works best for you.

Coffee Stand

A coffee stand is probably your most economical option. Thanks to its small footprint and low overhead, a coffee stand can be a smart decision to place in a popular area. This could be an outdoor area like an outdoor shopping mall or even indoors at a place like a hospital or near a sports venue. The downside is that with this small space, there’s not really any room for expansion. With no space for inventory, or even extra employees, you can outgrow a kiosk pretty fast.

Coffee Food Truck

Food trucks are experiencing tremendous popularity across the country. The opportunity to own your own truck and take it wherever the people are can be a huge help for your business. Of course, like a coffee stand, it’s easy to outgrow the small space of a food truck. Also, a food truck comes with many of the problems of a restaurant combined with a lot of the issues of a high-mileage vehicle.

Sit-Down Coffee Shop or Café

With a sit-down café, you get a lot more space, and can embrace the traditional coffee shop vibe that likely springs to mind. A sit-down coffee shop gives you the space you need for inventory while also providing a spot for people to study, work, or chill. However, because people stay longer, you aren’t able to serve as many customers. Anyone can tell you about the dreaded “coffee shop squatter” who monopolizes a table for two hours and only gets a cup of drip coffee! There’s also the higher overhead to consider. Not only do you have to purchase or otherwise secure land for your shop, but there’s also furniture, lighting, and other interior decorating expenses to consider. Visit the website for Scooter’s Coffee® for a more detailed estimate of your costs when opening a coffee shop.

Drive-Thru Coffee Shop

Are you looking for the best of both worlds? In that case, a drive-thru coffee shop may be right for you. People are falling in love with the drive-thru coffee franchise concept, and it isn’t difficult to see why. If you want to maximize your number of customers, while also appreciating the square footage to prepare and store your world-class coffee, look no further! Drive-thru coffee shops are built with maximum efficiency in mind. The size of your location gives you the space you need for the best equipment and inventory to create amazing drinks. Furthermore, the drive-thru concept pairs all of this with a thoughtful and convenient location that can help you serve more customers amazingly fast!

Do you think opening your own coffee shop might be right for you? Have you decided you’re ready to take the plunge? Learn more about opening a coffee shop with the percolating pros at Scooter’s Coffee!

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