Your Coffee Shop’s Success May Depend On The Furniture You Choose

A lot of times, a business’ success comes down to luck; the stars align, God is in a good mood that year, or you win the economic lottery.

Businesses also succeed because of hard work, solid research and marketing, and lots of experience.

As a coffee roaster and/or coffee shop, your success is going to be dependent on the quality and affordability of your product, the appeal of your brand, your location in the community, even the speed (and friendliness of service). One tremendously successful coffee shop entrepreneur lists “ergonomics” as his number 2 reason for a coffee shop’s success. He says to set up the shop so that the barista can hear the orders being made at the register and they don’t have to move practically at all to get the orders completed; this means having accessible milk, beans, cups, machinery and so forth.

Some experts will tell you that the comfort and aesthetic of your space will be key to your success; others will say that too comfortable a space could be your very downfall.

As a freelance worker, I look for available seating that isn’t too crowded, with access to an outlet and wifi, without too much noise. My local coffee shop is my home office away from home. Coffee shops are also the gathering place for first dates, business meetings, collaborators of all kinds, tired tourists, reuniting friends. A lot of these people need places to sit; a lot of them are going to want to sit for more than 5 minutes. How you market to these needs is up to you, ultimately. Your community may not cater too much to the sit-down coffee crowd; maybe they’re just in and out.

One expert does warn that having more customers that are in and out is a surer road to success. I can’t say he’s entirely wrong, either, when he says that a customer who sits and nurses a coffee for hours while writing a thesis or novel is a better customer than the customer who gets the same coffee and immediately leave,s making room for the next customer. His argument is that the in-and-outters come in higher numbers and provide more money per hour than those that just sit.

Try to find the balance. Like I said, I frequent coffee shops for the ability to get work done. I will leave a coffee shop if there is no place to sit, or even if there is no place to plug in. Catering to both crowds will definitely benefit your business.

Bench and bar stools are ways to offer seating, while discouraging people from hanging out for too long; they’re uncomfortable after a while. I would recommend populating your space about halfway with these types of seats so that you experience the revolving door of customers while still catering to those hanger-outters. You should also offer comfortable chairs, with backs, close to the ground, preferably with outlets and wifi.

Something else to consider is communal seating; this encourages larger groups who may spend more money collectively. These could be tourists or business associates having a collaborative meeting.

When choosing your furniture, you also want to consider the space. Nothing kills your service more efficiently than having no space for your customers to form a line. It is the rare business that has people willing to line up out the door and around the block; especially for coffee. They exist, but, they are rare. You also don’t want to force people to line up where they’ll be invading the space of your seated customers. If you have unfixed seating, meaning seating that the customers can move, you need to be aware of just how far your customers might move them and accommodate the floor plan for all scenarios.

If you want to be cozy and encourage a hangout for collaboration, expression and relationship building, bring in the comfy chairs. An assortment of upholstered furniture people can sink into gives them a home away from home. Some research shows that a comfortable customer is a loyal one. I go back to the shops that made me feel comfortable, that I know I can rely on for the resources I need to work and where the chairs are just firm enough to keep me focused, but not so firm that I have to leave to work out the kinks in my lower back.

Your furniture reflects your brand. If you want edgy, business clientele, go with sleek stools and chairs, minimalistic designs, silver and marble and grays.

If you want artists and youth, go eclectic, rustic, weird, whimsical. Mix and match your chairs and tables like you had a bunch of Great Aunts die and leave you all their old armchairs.

You also want your furniture to be good for you and your employees. Look at the durability of your choices, will they stand up to being sat on by a variety of people day in and day out, will they stand up to being moved, sometimes aggressively. Your tables should be prepared for spills, and lots of them. They should be easy to wipe clean; there’s nothing more discouraging to a customer than a dirty table that takes the barista five minutes to get truly clean.

Your furniture should be easily accessible; being wedged in a corner, trapped on all sides by other customers or walls is not a way to make a customer comfortable or encourage them to come back.

Offer a variety of seating arrangements, from the communal, to the singular, to the couple, to the family.

If you’re going to clash, really clash. If you’re going to match, really match. Branding is about consistency, an easily understood aesthetic and vision. If customers get your brand and believe in its consistency, then they’ll trust your business.

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14 Comments

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  1. Coffee shops are ideal place for teenagers who want to hangout with friends, freelancers who want peace around them, some people do their business meetings there and some fix their first date in coffee shops… Comfort and excellent service is something that everyone wants… Its great when coffee shops try to provide the relevant environment to everyone!!

  2. I agree with you 100%! The most successful businesses are those which employ creative thinkers. These strategies don’t just work for coffee shops, many of them work across the board for all businesses. If you want customers to keep coming back (and bringing their friends with them), you need to create a warm, inviting atmosphere where the customers are treated as though they are part of the family.

  3. True! The ambiance of the place would affect a person’s perception of your offers. A cool ambiance will attract customers since most of the people nowadays want to find a corner where they can relax after being stressed from their job or life! Comfy furnitures and designs which are pleasing to the eyes would give a positive impact not only to their mood but possibly with their life as well.

  4. 100% agree with this article! Everyone deserves a great experience and to feel comfortable when visiting a coffee shop. This is a great example how to become successful. As a coffee lover, I always visit coffee shops where I can feel like I’m at home.

  5. you can always have a normal coffee shop! but when it comes to a successful one you must follow this tips. these tips are really helpful, customers always are looking for a comfortable place to sit in and if they like it, it will be like their second home! some people love to work in coffee shops more than in offices, especially freelancers, so they always look for a calm place where they can do their work while drinking a nice cup of coffee.

  6. Hey! I agree with you a 100% too. I think customers having a comfortable place to sit is great! That way they can be happy and you will be successful as you run your business so both are happy. I like to sit in coffee shops and work because it’s relaxing and coffee shops have that comfortable atmosphere.

  7. If there’s one thing I look for when I first enter a coffee shop (of course apart from the amazing coffee fragrance), is what kind of seating the place provides. I’m here to sit for a long time and I sure want to sink myself into a comfy chair!

  8. Great article! I always go to coffee shops for studying so it’s important for me to have a comfortable place that I can come back to over and over again. If I ever open a coffee shop, this blog will be my ultimate guideline 😉 Many thanks ^^

  9. Coming from a small town, the number of coffee shops near me is very limited. The coffee shops here rarely offer comfortable, cozy furniture. Most of them have the typical Starbucks-ish interior, which, don’t get me wrong, its lovely, but I wouldn’t mind some diversity. Nevertheless, coffee is coffee, I will enjoy drinking it anywhere, as long as its clean, has nice employees and great coffee. (I think most would agree)

    • Yes, I agree. Coffee is coffee. I am a coffee lover, and I would like to drink coffee wherever and whenever. But for me, having a beautiful and cozy place is a plus! I appreciate the efforts of the coffee shops who are trying their best to offer the best environment for their customers. It may cost them a lot on supplying good quality pieces of furniture, but it is all worth it.

  10. For me, cozy is definitely more my style. I love a cozy environment, where the shop is actually saying “come, stay here a bit” to me. It makes me feel more welcome and comfortable, leading to a better coffee sipping experience. Furniture placement and spacing, atmosphere, and music are definitely the keys to a great indoor experience.

  11. I would love it if the coffee shops in my town would explore different options in furniture and décor. I really like the idea of a cozy space with eccentric and whimsical accents to spend my time in. As a writer, I can certainly agree that comfort is key. The shop I attend regularly is more designed for the in-and-out crowd, so they only have barstools and little tables. It can get a bit uncomfortable bent over a laptop and sitting at one for hours. A few armchairs or couches would make a world of difference.

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