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As of January 2022, the most caffeinated city in America is Berkely, California with 1 coffee shop per every 2,073 people. Needless to say, Berkeley citizens have plenty of choices when it comes to where to grab their morning cup of ambition. And, coffee shop design has more to do with their final decision than you’d think.
In today’s hyper-digital age, consumers care a lot about how “insta-worthy” coffee shops are, meaning they look good on Instagram. There’s a large market of people that love to post where they get their morning coffee as long as the background is aesthetically pleasing enough. These posts influence Instagram users to visit the shop and take even more photos themselves.
Although the design plan of your coffee shop is an excellent marketing tool, it is also where your small business concept comes to life. Your business plan should outline who your target market is. Start by thinking of your desired customers and what they might look for in a neighborhood coffee spot. This thought process will help you build your dream coffee shop while also keeping your business functional.
In this article about coffee shop design, we’ll walk you through:
A variety of different restaurant design ideas and elements you can incorporate into your cafe
Best practices to get your coffee shop seen
Real examples that have used these tools successfully
With this approach, you’ll be locking in your restaurant branding and building the next best neighborhood coffee shop in no time.
15 Creative Coffee Shop Design Ideas
1. Utilize unconventional tile
Interior design has moved up and away from the standard square tiles every suburban home and restaurant used to possess. Today, tile stores offer a wide selection of choices. You can find ceramic tiles made in triangular, hexagonal, and even chevron shapes - all fun options that can add an accent to your coffee shop design.
Better Buzz Coffee Roasters is a hub for a variety of spectacular different coffee shop design ideas. Their Escondido location in particular incorporated hexagon-shaped tiles, wall decor, and menu signs into its layout.
2. Experiment with exposed pieces
Exposed design elements are fantastic ways to enhance your coffee shop’s design. They bring a sense of warmth and also celebrate the history of your space.
Exposed brick and pipes are classic examples of this design feature. Both lend an attractive industrial look to your space. Exposed brick has become wildly popular as it adds contrast when mixed with solid, neutral walls. Depending on the type of brick your space has, painting it white can create a more modern, shabby chic look for your shop. Exposed pipes have also worked their way into the coffee shop interior design world. People love a factory-like aesthetic, and pipes channel just that. What’s great is that pipes add age to your space regardless of its history. You can expose pipes just as they are or create a uniform design with them. The choice is up to you!
Fumi Coffee used a white brick wall as the backdrop for an explosive art piece of metal and light. This piece is both attractive and functional - it provides light while not taking up much space.
3. Make use of metal
If you are going for a modern industrial-style aesthetic, incorporating metal accents and utilitarian materials into your design can help do the trick. Here are some trendy ideas to help achieve a modern industrial look:
Industrialized wall signage
Metal wall art
Galvanized metal wall planters
Repurposed kitchen tools such as a cheese grater
Stacked silver tile
Bear Market in Dublin, Ireland uses metal for its overhead sign, wall decor, and appliances.
4. Hang decor from the ceiling
Most coffee shops are not too big - the average size is between 1,000 - 1,750 feet. With limited space, hanging decor from the ceiling can be an efficient way to accessorize your cafe. Depending on your design plan, you can hang lights, plants, coffee mugs, or even surfboards from the ceiling. To be afraid to get creative with your decor - its cool elements like this that will catch the eye of customers (and make it on Instagram!)
High Tide Coffee hangs vinyl records next to their hanging lights in their Laguna
Niguel location. In the corner of this picture, they also have arcade games- so cool!
5. Bring your coffee shop to life with plants
If all else fails, buy some plants. It adds color to your space and more oxygen too! Nowadays, all different styles of design for all kinds of businesses include plants. Modern farmhouse styles particularly continue to dominate the interior design world and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. Take notes on these styles - and their incorporation of plants - as they could add major appeal to your coffee shop space.
Blend Station takes things up a notch with an entire tree planted in the center of the cafe.
6. Choose unique furniture
People go to cafes for a variety of reasons. Some go to get work done while others are there to just hang out. This is why you need furniture that serves different purposes.
When planning furniture, think about your space. Bar-style seating by the window may be a smart pick for productive guests whereas tables or booths can be inviting elements to those who are there on a date or with friends. As you decide on furniture, also consider its style too. Look for bold accent chairs or vintage pieces which will add more flair to your space.
Lestat’s On Park in University Heights has a variety of funky, one-of-a-kind pieces.
7. Apply modern designs
Many modern-style cafes incorporate contrasts of wood elements and matte black into their design, giving their coffee shops an edgy appearance. The best part is - this look is very easy to achieve. Go for wooden countertops with black walls, integrating small hints of wood through floating shelves, coasters, or wall decor.
Pro tip: Integrate bright green plants into your modern design to create a colorful contrast that customers will love.
Daily Dose Coffee located in Atlanta, Georgia uses black tile with wooden shelves that add a subtle but polished finish to its design.
8. Incorporate specific lighting
Similar to ceramic tile, lighting fixtures have taken on an important role in design. Lighting can completely transform your coffee shop aesthetic. You can hang long lights from the ceiling, screw-in bulbs to your walls, or even hang mini chandeliers. Just run a quick Pinterest search on cafe lighting and you’ll see that the inspiration is endless.
In addition to cool lighting fixtures, you also need to consider lighting levels. Most coffee shops are well lit. Brighter atmospheres support the whole purpose of coffee - waking up! Plus, more light can make your space feel larger and channel more positive vibes for your space. A darker shop is also a viable pick, as dimmer spaces do instill a feeling of calmness, inviting customers to stay longer.
Thinking Cup in Boston is dimly lit with small chandeliers. This is an unusual
choice for a cafe. Yet, Thinking Cup’s smart interior design elements come together to create a warm ambiance that stands out among the rest.
9. Stand out with mosaic or mural art
When working in small spaces, it’s better to have one statement piece, like a mosaic or mural, than a bunch of smaller art pieces that can crowd your space. Mosaic art always stands out because of its great detail. Murals are also very remarkable, especially because of their large size. And, murals do make for great Instagram backgrounds too.
10. Chalk it up to chalkboards
Since the dawn of coffee shop time, chalkboards have been a staple in every small business cafe. Some coffee shops even have entire chalkboard walls. The functionality of the chalkboard is outstanding, as you don’t have to change all your signage and prints each time your menu changes. Chalkboards are also very insta-worthy as they can be used for art as well. For example, small businesses sometimes put chalkboard stands outside with witty phrases or cool art to feature new specials, attracting customers inside.
Even Starbucks loves a classic chalkboard, as they hire artists to draw on their chalk signs at locations all over the world.
11. Make it insta-worthy with words
An excellent background for an Instagram post is signage. Clever words or phrases displayed on a wall make your coffee shop instantly recognizable. You can design this word wall art however you like. There are all sorts of styles and fonts to choose from. Vanity and LED light signage work exceptionally well, especially when it comes to making your coffee shop insta-worthy. Hand-painted words when executed right can contribute to your aesthetic too.
But First Coffee located in Newman, CA has its name lit up on an LED sign, in a pretty font, and placed over a greenery backdrop. This is a perfect background for getting awesome Instagram content for customers. Who doesn’t like free marketing?
12. Decide on maximalist vs minimalist
A creative decision to consider in your design plan is maximalism vs minimalism. Do you want your coffee shop to have crazy detail or very few design elements? It’s an important choice to make that depends all on your vision for your cafe.
If you’re aiming for maximalism, a popular design that maximalists enjoy is sticker decor. This is a terrific way to support other local businesses as you can put their stickers up as well. Sticker decor is also great for glass fixtures in a cafe. In contrast, the minimalist aesthetic can be achieved with clean walls and neutral colors. This aesthetic has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years.
Distrikt Coffee uses classic minimalist design elements such as:
Minimal wall decor
13. Add authenticity with books
Studies have shown that a minimal amount of noise when working can enhance your productivity. Likewise, sitting in an environment filled with other productive people can be motivating. With people spending lots of time in coffee shops working, brainstorming, and reading, you need to think about how to create an environment conducive to this productivity. One decor trick that does just that is books. Books can be used in a variety of ways and can help personalize your shop. For example, you can stack them, spread them out, or buy colorful books to add more accents to your design.
Although Merci is a used book cafe, its library-style wall is an eye-catching example of how attractive books can make your space. They’re a great option if you’re looking to integrate more warmth and authenticity into your cafe.
14. Support local artists
For artists, showcasing their work at local coffee shops can be incredibly favorable. There are also many pros for coffee shops that exhibit local artists work such as:
New decor that is free of charge to your shop
An extra attraction for customers
Various options of art to choose from
Builds your relationship with your community
Zume’s Coffee House located in Charlestown, Massachusetts has a gallery that features a new local artist every 3 months. Check out this picture below to see abstract art that was available this past November.
A memorable experience will create loyal customers
People love a good coffee shop experience. Everything you do, from the background music you play to the coffee cups you provide, contributes to the customer experience. These details may attract customers, but to keep them coming back for more, you need to invest in the proper technology.
Consistent service is what makes loyal customers. Consider investing in advanced barista technology, which analyzes the data of your ingredients to ensure your beverages stay uniform. Another customer service technology pro tip is creating an app. Your app can consolidate your customer loyalty strategy, through point systems or digital stamp cards, to keep customers coming back. Lastly, apps or other online ordering mediums are very effective for coffee shops as it supports on-the-go customers and, above all, gives baristas more time to make drinks without forming large lines.
To make your coffee shop dreams come true, all you need is a firm business plan, a beautiful coffee shop design, and effective technology to support it all. Once you checked off these boxes, you’ll be brewing the interest from coffee-lovers all over town.
Related Coffee Shop Resources
- Opening a Coffee Shop
- How to Write a Coffee Shop Business Plan
- Coffee Shop Business Plan Template
- Best Coffee Shop POS System
- Cost to Open a Coffee Shop
- Coffee Shop Name Ideas
- Coffee Shop Branding
- Best Coffee Shop Websites
- Coffee Shop Marketing Ideas
- How Much Do Coffee Shops Make
- Coffee Shop Ideas and Concepts
- Coffee Shop Menu Ideas
- Coffee Shop Floor Plans
- Coffee Shop Equipment List
- Coffee Shop Licenses and Permits
- Best Coffee Shop POS Systems