How do I design a coffee shop menu?
Designing menus and graphics in-house is a great way to save, but hiring a designer streamlines the process. If you decide to do do-it-yourself, use design software like Adobe Creative Suite, Canva, or Powerpoint to create designs with a professional finish.
Whether doing it yourself or working with a designer, keep these design best practices in mind. Our coffee shop menu templates can help you to get started.
How to Create a Coffee Shop Menu
Espresso machine on deck. Milk substitutions lining the fridge. Logo neatly printed onto paper to-go cups. Indie-alt playlist in the queue, Wi-Fi password on display, and the smell of fresh coffee wafting in the air, ready to greet your customers as they open the door of your brand new coffee shop.
You can’t wait to become the go-to neighborhood spot, where the regulars trust that you have their orders memorized and the tourists go out of their way to stop by for a taste of the best coffee in town. But before these dreams can come true, there’s one important step you’ll need to take: creating your coffee shop menu.
Your menu is much more than just a list of items. It’s a vehicle through which you’ll communicate with your customers and drive demand for your products. It’s an opportunity to influence customer engagement and a tool for increasing sales and maximizing revenue. It requires careful and intentional thought to make sure you’re setting your coffee shop up for the most possible success. If this feels overwhelming, don’t worry – below, we’ll cover all of the pieces that will be helpful to consider as you put your menu together.
Opening a Coffee Shop Checklist
So many things go into opening a coffee shop. Use this free PDF checklist to set your new coffee shop up for success.
Coffee Shop Menu Design Best Practices
With menu colors and design, compositions and layouts, item prices and descriptions, and both printed and online versions, there’s a lot that goes into creating a menu. And while every menu can and should be unique to your shop and reflective of your distinct brand identity, there are some menu design best practices that can be helpful to reference as you go through this process.
The following 10 steps offer a great guide to ensure you’ll have a brew-tiful menu ready to go in no time!
How to Make a Coffee Shop Menu
1. Write out all menu items
The first step in your menu design process is to list out all of the items you’re planning to include on your menu. While this might sound obvious, taking the time to write these items out is crucial for organizing your inventory and setting yourself up for success throughout the next nine steps.
So, to start, grab a pen, or pull up your digital spreadsheet of choice, and list out every item you’re planning to have available for your customers — from coffee, tea, and specialty drinks, to any snacks, pastries, food items, and coffee beans that will be for sale. If you’re planning to offer add-ons or substitutions, like flavor swirls or non-dairy milk options, make sure to take note of those here as well. Anything you can include that might help to drive revenue and maximize your profits should go on the list!
2. Categorize menu items
Now that you have your list of what you’re selling, it’s time to figure out how you’ll organize your items. Think about what categories will make the most sense and be most intuitive for your customers. Will you separate coffees and teas into “cold” and “hot” sections? Will you include specialty drinks under coffees, or will they get their own space? How will you organize non-coffee bar drinks, like bottled water, juice, or soda? Will you group all your food together, or break it out by breakfast, lunch, pastries, or snacks?
Categorizing your items will help you determine how big each section will be, where each section will live on your menu, how each section will be spaced out, and more. It will also help you think through how to organize the items within each section – is there a strategic way to make your best sellers or most expensive option stand out and influence customer behavior?
3. Set menu prices
As you think about how much to charge for each item on your menu, here are a few components that are important to factor in:
- Target Market → think about what prices will be accessible and sustainable for the target market you’re trying to reach. What price point will be low enough to draw customers in, and keep them coming back for more, while still maximizing your coffee shop’s profits?
- Competitors → look into what other coffee shops in your area are charging for their products, and think about how you’ll differentiate your shop from the rest of the market. Maybe you can offer more competitive prices or, maybe your items are more expensive but the quality is well worth the cost.
- Expenses → from overhead and inventory, to compensation and benefits, to rent, cleaning, maintenance, and more, it’s critical that you know what expenses you’re on the hook for, so you can calculate the price points that will allow you to cover these costs while still generating revenue.
- Inventory → the quality of your products should also be factored into your prices – and you shouldn’t be afraid to communicate that to your guests so they know what they’re investing in. If your coffee is made from ethical, fair trade, B-corp-certified beans, for example, letting them know that that’s where their money is going can actually help build customer trust and strengthen your business.
- Environment → your coffee shop is about more than just selling coffee, it’s about selling an experience to your customers. When your guests pay for a latte, they might also be paying for access to your Wi-Fi and beautifully-designed seating area, interior decorations, music, and ambient lighting, so think about how you factor these additional components into your prices.
- Resources → tools like this menu engineering course and this menu pricing strategy guide are also available as resources and can offer valuable insights about how data and psychology can help inform your coffee shop prices and menu design.
4. Create menu descriptions
Now, it’s time to think about how you’ll communicate your menu items to your customers. As you draft your coffee shop menu descriptions, try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes – what would you need to know about each product to feel ready to place your order? How are you communicating potential allergies? Are you listing out each ingredient, or using a key to signify dietary restrictions, such as vegan, gluten-free, or dairy free?
In a more stylistic sense, what tone do you want to strike with your menu descriptions? Will you give your different baked goods funny names, will the contents of your cafe sandwiches be explained with wit and humor? Or will you opt for a more minimalist approach, sharing as little information as necessary and keeping your menu simple?
If you’re hitting some writer’s block, you can also always look into hiring a copywriter, if your budget allows, to help get the words flowing for this step.
5. Decide on a menu color scheme
We’ve gotten through the written communication – now, it’s time to think about how you’ll visually convey the identity of your coffee shop through your menu.
To start, think of your coffee shop colors. If you already have a brand kit with specific colors, fonts, and logos, this is a perfect opportunity to utilize it. If not, resources like Chron’s The Psychology of Colors for Restaurant Designs, Adobe Color CC (color wheel tool), ColorDot (color palette tool), and ColRD (color inspiration) are great sites to explore as you figure out which colors, and how many, will best represent your establishment.
One other point to note – color printing costs are typically a bit higher than black and white, so if you’re planning to print your menus, make sure to check on how much the colors you land on will cost, and whether it’s a sustainable expense for your business.
6. Design your coffee shop menu
Resources like Canva, Adobe Suite, and templates like these are great places to start when it comes to the design of your coffee shop menu. And social media sites, like Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok can also offer very helpful menu design inspiration.
As you pull the design of your menu together, think about how to best utilize the space, how to organize your sections in a way that flows well for your reader, how to ensure your menu is engaging and appealing without being overwhelming, how to convey all the information you need to share without crowding your pages. If this is a step where you feel a graphic designer would add value, that’s always an option you can explore. If not, our menu engineering course’s section on menu design, as well as these menu design best practices, also offer additional strategies and supports that might be helpful at this stage in your menu creation process.
7. Coffee Shop Menu Photos
High-quality, well-shot photos of your menu items can also be a major value add.
While it’s important to not overwhelm your menu, choosing a select few items that offer a good visual representation of the delicious drinks and treats your customers can look forward to can go a long way in influencing customer behavior. Just make sure that any photos you include are up to par – not every image needs to be professionally done (many iPhones function just as well as professional cameras, anyway) but poorly-shot photos can have the opposite effect, putting off potential customers and harming business.
Establishing and maintaining a social media presence is also a great way to display your products, and exercise a bit more creative license with photos and images that might not fit on your menu. It’s also an opportunity to engage customers, encourage coffee shop visitors to tag you in their posts, or even put a QR code on display for guests to easily find and follow your coffee shop’s Instagram account.
Coffee Shop Menu Templates
Use these coffee shop menu templates as a starting point for your menu design or to give your menu a refresh.
8. Choose Menu Fonts, Spacing, and Composition
Now, it’s time to sort out the remaining visual details for your menu design.
Think about what kind of fonts you want to use, and how many you’ll deploy. What will best convey your brand identity and the tone you want to strike with your customers? What will create good visual texture, but avoid overwhelming your reader? Will you use complementary fonts throughout, or juxtapose different types?
When it comes to your spacing, this is a good opportunity to review steps one and two. The number of items you have on your menu, and the way you categorize them, will play a big role in how you space them out on the page. How will you place each section – and the items within each section – in a way that lets your menu flow well?
The way you compose all of the elements on this list will determine how your customers experience your menu, so make sure to take your time and think through the best way to pull them all together. Try playing around with different drafts and coming up with different versions to explore what works best for you and your coffee shop.
9. Select the final menu layout
Once you have your top options, it’s time to choose your final layout. This step presents a great opportunity to get some extra sets of eyes on your work, so feel free to solicit feedback from trusted sources and take your time incorporating any edits or changes into your drafts. While it will ultimately be your decision, additional perspective from friends, family, staff, and key stakeholders can be an invaluable resource to ensuring you’re putting the best possible menu forward.
10. Proofread and print your menu
Congratulations! You’ve made it to step 10, which means you’ve done the work and the hardest parts are over. You’ve put together the menu of your coffee shop dreams, and your final design is just about ready to go.
But first – proofread! The devil is in the details, and any missed typo or grammar error can erode customer trust right off the bat. Take the time now, before your menu is off to the printer, to give your final design a very close copy edit, to catch any potential mistakes and put your best option forward.
And finally, to the printer we go! Staples, Vistaprint, PsPrint, and PrintPlace are all great resources to start with, but there are plenty of different printing companies that offer different services at different price points, so make sure to do your research and land on the option that works best for you and your coffee shop.
Examples of Coffee Shop Menus
The menu at GoodBoyBob in Santa Monica, California does a great job of mixing different font types in a way that adds a little funkiness, without overwhelming their readers. With a cheeky cartoon added at the top, they strike a nice balance, keeping the vibes fun while still maintaining a simple aesthetic overall, with well-spaced, easy-to-read menu items.
A header with beautifully shot images of their coffee and food (check), clearly labeled titles for each section (check), minimalist font and intuitive spacing that allows the reader to flow easily through the menu (check), detailed descriptions for each item (check) – Better Buzz Coffee Roasters in San Diego, California has all our menu design boxes covered!
Mañana Coffee offers a perfect example of how to integrate professional, well-shot photos into your coffee shop’s menu. With a mouthwatering image for each menu item, well-organized sections, clearly-labeled extras, and an easy-to-navigate interface, this shop has served up a 10/10 menu.
When you’re reading Go Get ‘Em Tiger’s menu, you’re not just browsing options – you’re being let into the full history behind their products. By sharing the backstory of where their beans come from – including who’s doing the harvesting, the bean varieties, roast, processing, and drying methods – they’re giving potential customers an opportunity to not only buy their products but connect with them. This helps to build customer trust and ensure their guests keep coming back for more!
Verve Coffee’s menu is well-organized, easy to navigate, and includes fun and engaging images of not only the coffee beans they have for sale, but also the components and notes that make their coffee what it is (personally, the nectarine, brown sugar, and key lime bag is calling my name). They also offer a special customer engagement opportunity through an interactive quiz to help potential consumers choose which menu item works best for them and their coffee routine. A+ from us!
Between animated graphics and a beautiful color scheme, combined with a simple font and minimalist spacing, the menu at Diesel Cafe in Massachusetts hits the menu design nail on the head. These complementary aesthetic features, and their consistency throughout, offer the perfect balance to satisfy any customer, even before any coffee has been tasted!
The menu at 1369 Coffee House is simple, direct, and effective. Organized into clear “drink,” “food,” and “catering,” menus, with well-labeled and well-spaced sections under each and detailed descriptions for each menu item, customers have everything they need to find the treat they’re looking for and place their order.
One look at Bing Haus’s mochi donuts and, honestly, the rest of the menu might not be necessary. However, if you’re not immediately sold on these tasty treats, navigating the rest of their menu is a breeze, thanks to their clearly labeled sections, easy-to-find items, intuitive spacing, and not to mention a perfect sprinkling of mouth-watering photos of their delicious drinks and pastries. *chef’s kiss*
Blueys is one of my personal favorite coffee shops to frequent, and their menu certainly does not disappoint. With a lovely, aesthetically pleasing color palette, complimentary fonts throughout, detailed descriptions for each item, clearly denoted warnings for potential allergies and dietary restrictions and cute illustrations that add a lil fun and funkiness, they’ve managed to brew the perfect menu design blend.
Bakehaus offers a wide variety of menu items, from all-day breakfast to coffee, tea, cold beverages, entrées, morning pastries, paninis, sandwiches, salads, soups, desserts, and more. It’s enough to overwhelm anyone – but thanks to their well-organized, clearly-labeled, and easy-to-navigate menu, it’s a joy to browse through and explore all their offerings! Ein Prost to Bakehaus’s menu!
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