September 10, 2014

What Makes a Coffee Shop Good?


This article was written with the intent of helping people both choose a home coffee shop based on some basic things that create an amazing environment and to give those who own/manage a coffee shop help in creating and maintaining an environment enabling them to be that home coffee shop for their customers.

starbucks store What Makes a Coffee Shop Good?

I will also use this Review System in upcoming articles as a way to “rank” local coffee shops.


(1) Music – Good music is a must if I am going to spend more than a few minutes in a coffee shop. It can be mellow or upbeat but needs to be a back-round noise rather than the main event. Worse than bad music is music turned up so loud that you cannot hear yourself think let alone have a decent conversation with someone. If you have to compete with the music that gets a negative point.

(2) Colors - Color scheme is important because it helps build the environment visually. Certain colors make people feel on edge and others are calming. I find that neutral colors are the best in created this atmosphere for people but this does not mean you have to stay away from bright colors just that you want to be careful with how to use them. Maybe a nice accent wall in a dark corner, this is also where lighting comes into play.

(3) Lighting
- If it’s to dark I can’t get anything done and it feels dreary. If it’s to light I don’t want to stay long and it gives me a headache. Reflected light mixed with direct overhead lighting is the best with bulbs that are more of a natural light than a yellow one. Also colored shades help create the correct lighting balance as well.(4) Set up – A good set up helps make a store both easy to navigate and visually pleasing. Making sure to keep a clear aisle from the door to the register and keeping the condiment bar out of this path to the register will be two big points, especially during a rush.

(5) Comfort – This comes into play with the chairs, table height, and can be a combination of different factors like lighting, music, cleanliness and so on.

(6) Cleanliness – No one likes to see a huge mess behind the counter when they know their drink is being made in such conditions. Everything comes into play with this one: behind the bar, under cabinets, the bathrooms, the walls (one of the most missed places), the trash cans not being full, etc… Cleanliness puts the final touches on Environment, the sugar on top if you will. Without the sugar it makes everything a little less sweet.

Customer Service

(1) Friendly
– I don’t think I can overstate how HUGE this is to making a Good Coffee Shop. A smiling face, a genuine question, someone to listen, a brief compliment. There are so many things that play into friendly customer service but when we receive it we know it! Hire good people and you are Well on your way to having a Good Coffee Shop!

(2) Fast – Most times people are on the go when they come to a coffee shop, grabbing a coffee and breakfast before work or a mid-day treat in the middle of a stressful workday. If you can get me out fast in these conditions, I am a happy camper. Though I realize this is not always true we all can appreciate getting that precious cup in our hands a little soon even if it means talking with our barista while we sip our tasty beverage.

(3) Fun – If the above to conditions of Customer Service are met than most people are happy. But if I want my experience to be more than just good, I want it to be great! If my barista can make my visit fun then I probably won’t notice a little bit of a longer wait and I might be willing to overlook such things as cleanliness. I think this is the key to many people finding their home coffee shop.


(1) Drinks – Variety in today’s coffee world is a must. Whether it be from hot to iced to blended or flavors to quality of flavors it is what people expect when they enter the doors of a prospective home coffee shop. But if all else fails if they have good black coffee and killer espresso than I can make it work but obviously it’s not ideal.

(2) Food
– Choices in what it eat is becoming more and more relevant in coffee shops. Whether it be pastries or lunch items this is more peripheral to me but still matters enough to mention.


(1) Accuracy of Order
– Quality, Quality Quality! This comes into play in a coffee shops training program. There are three things I will mention here that come into play: 1. Steaming milk – if milk is not steamed properly then the drink will taste sour instead of the sweetness your have come to enjoy. 2. Pulling good shots – if shots are to short then the drink will be bland and stale tasting, if the shots are to long it will taste to bitter and if the shot sit for more than 10 seconds before being added to the drink it will just plain out taste gross. 3. Sticking to the recipe – If one barista makes it one way and another enjoys it another your never know what your going to get. Consistency is HUGE. I hear people over and over say they return to a shop because of it’s consistency. There is so much more to this that it deserves it’s own post.


(1) Fast but more importanly (2) Free

As you can see Customer Service is weighted very heavily in what makes a Coffee Shop Good/Great! If you are a customer or a business owner this is/should be the most valued/focused on thing in this entire experience.

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I will constantly be updating and adding information to this article as conditions and perspectives change.

If you have any suggestions on what to add or how to make this Review System better leave it in the comments. Your opinion mattters!

 What Makes a Coffee Shop Good?

Jason Coffee

Head Writer, Owner & Founder. at Coffee Cup News
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