On the Line / Operations / Clever Coffee Shop Interior Design Examples and Ideas

Clever Coffee Shop Interior Design Examples and Ideas

Design a space that invites people to sit, sip, and enjoy

Cafe Design hero

DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations. You should contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.

Coffee shops around the world have a few specific things in common; they’re cozy, inviting, and a hub of social activity.

Aside from those traits, the sky's the limit when it comes to how you set your café apart with clever coffee shop interior design.

With coffee shops opening up everywhere – from major cities to much smaller towns – the growth of coffee shops in the United States is around 7% year over year. Therefore, the need to make your location unique and attract repeat customers is more important than ever.

So, how can aspiring coffee shop owners create environments that can challenge much larger corporations, appeal to customers, and be worth the trip to town rather than a trip to the grocery store?

Restaurant Marketing Plan

Restaurant Marketing Plan

Create a marketing plan that'll drive repeat business with this customizable marketing playbook template and interactive calendar.

You must have Javascript enabled in order to submit forms on our website. If you'd like to contact Toast please call us at:

(857) 301-6002
First and Last Name is required
Phone Number is required
Restaurant Name is required
What best describes your restaurant type? is required
Yes, I’d like a demo of Toast, a restaurant technology platform.
Yes, I'd like a demo of Toast is required

1. Accentuate Local Touches and Flavor

One trait that multi-location coffee shop designs have is that many of them look the same.

Due to corporate branding, you’d know if you walked into a Starbucks in New York City or in Burke, Texas.

When planning out your coffee shop design, take the opportunity to set your location apart by adding local flair or items that are unique to your part of the world.

Jane on Fillmore in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco accomplishes this in part with their room-length mirror that was 'tagged' by local artist Geso. Other out of the box ideas include custom murals by more local artists, playing local music, and even serving food items and syrups that are locally produced.

coffee shop design examples

2. Lighting Matters

Living in Boston, I see a lot of coffee shops that make use of exposed piping and brick walls. While some may think that this style is a little too hipster, there are practical benefits to this aesthetic.

Many coffee shops historically use exposed bulbs, which emit a soft yellow light. That light reflects off brick and wood surfaces to fill the area with more warm light. At later times of the day (especially evening), warmer lights are easier for our eyes to adjust to, as opposed to brighter or cooler lights, like florescent lights. You notice this more in coffee shops that are open later into the evening, versus those that are open during the day.

Consider when you expect to have the highest traffic, and plan your lighting accordingly. Cooler lights and lighter walls help to illuminate areas during the day (especially as lighter colors reflect sunlight easier), while warmer colors make reading and lounging easier during the evening.

Check out these examples from Toby's Estate and I Feel Espresso Bar for inspiration.

3. Keep it (Mobile) Friendly

Walking down the street, one thing you're bound to notice is how many people are on their phones. I'm certainly guilty of this as well. I even start to panic when my phone is at less than 10% battery when I'm not close to a charger.

When designing your cafe, take time to think through how you can incorporate mobile options into your ordering experience and into your dining experience. Since the majority of coffee shop customers are on the go, stopping in to grab a drink or a pick me up as they head from one place to another, creating a mobile friendly ordering and payment experience will help them get where they're going faster. Whether you choose to invest in a branded app or an online ordering option, giving guests a way to place their order ahead of time so its ready when they arrive on scene shows you understand and prioritize your guests needs without compromising on food quality.

Another to keep your tech-savvy customers happy when dining in at your cafe is to include USB outlets. Having a few USB ready outlets in your location can encourage patrons to stick around longer while they charge their phones (and maybe get another cup of coffee while they're at it). Many of these outlets are inexpensive and easy to install, giving you a low-cost way to make your coffee shop a little more tech friendly.

What Are Your Coffee Shop Interior Design Tips?

The coffee shop is a staple of towns across America, and while not everyone has the resources of the bigger coffee companies, making yours stand out isn't an impossible task. By taking stock of what resources you have from your local area, considering the ambiance of your location, and with a little hard work, you can bring something new to the table without breaking the bank.

Related Coffee Shop Resources

icon Tech Tip

Learn how guest marketing tools can help you get your customers coming back.

Read more
Subscribe to On the Line

Sign up to get industry intel, advice, tools, and honest takes from real people tackling their restaurants’ greatest challenges.

We’ll handle your info according to our privacy statement.

Otl subscribe 22