The Collective Visual: Coffee Shop Interior

Anyone can create a basic interior design concept but crafting a coffee shop design concept that is going to be successful and stand the test of time takes careful consideration across multiple aspects. Customers want more, they are longing to engage and connect with brands that genuinely align with their values so how do you design a coffee shop that provides all of that and more?

Although the design of a coffee shop is a huge contributor to the success of a brand it’s also important (as a founder) you give yourselves the best chance for success by getting the basics right too, and there are few things to think about here. So, before jumping straight into the design aspects of a coffee shop we wanted to share a few key foundations to opening a successful coffee shop, these should be considered carefully before embarking on the interior design.

Read on to find out how to create a successful coffee shop design

Location and positioning

The location of your coffee shop can really determine the future success of the brand, essentially the location determines what type of demographic you will be serving and this should inform the brand positioning and vice versa. This should be an informed decision, if you are absolutely clear on what type of offering you want to provide then ensure you source a site in a location that compliments this and ensure the demographic aligns with your concept; similarly if you have found ‘the’ site and are yet to develop your brand concept and positioning make sure this is tailored to the desired area and customer type.

Identifying your customer type, customer behaviour and purchasing habits is imperative to providing the local people with what they want. A coffee shop concept should be built upon knowledge of the area and potential customers and be realistic for your specific location and market. Opening a coffee shop in a prime location that serves specialist coffee is great but unfortunately for consumers today that’s not always enough to keep them coming back. Customers want more, they are longing to engage and connect with brands that genuinely align with their values.

The Coffee Shop Brand

Something that is key when designing a coffee shop (or any brand interior) is to ensure you capture the brand’s story, the space should help the customer feel connected to the brand and encourage them to come back time and time again. In most cases the most successful coffee shop brands use carefully considered design to visually communicate their ethos and purpose through their interior space. This doesn’t mean they plaster their logo above the door and list their brand values on the packaging, it means they strive to make genuine connections with their audience in a much deeper way.

The best way to connect with people is through storytelling, it’s familiar and easy to understand. Brand storytelling through a coffee shop’s physical space isn’t always a priority for a coffee shop founder, however the interior space can have a huge impact on the customers’ over experience of the brand. The implementation of the ‘brand story’ into an interior space will help the brand have a better chance of success. Integrating the brand story should not be the last thing to be considered in the design process, it should be the first and ongoing consideration throughout.

It’s really important to consider bringing a professional commercial designer on board to help craft your interior design concept, the right designer will recognise this importance of integrating the story into the space and help weave the brand values across all aspects of the interior.

The Collective Coffee Shop - Brand Identity + Brand Positioning Statement
The Collective Coffee Shop - Brand Values Words & Copy

The Exterior

Shop front
First impressions are very important when it comes to visiting somewhere for the first time, many assumptions are made just based on the exterior. The exterior should be designed to align with the interior space and the brand too, the identity along with design of the shop front should strengthen the brand offering and encourage passers by to come in. Key things to think about when designing the interior is the the brand identity and the brand offering and how you communicate this, this could include window displays, vinyl stickers, murals or signage. The visual communication should give the onlookers a clear and concise impression of the brand and this will help them decide whether this is somewhere they want to explore.

The Collective Coffee Shop - Sample Board

Outdoor space
The exterior design should also include any outdoor space or additional seating areas. It’s a no brainer when it comes to maximising your outdoor space, whether this be a seating area or terrace space there is potential for more capacity and a coffee shop with additional seating options is more desirable especially when it looks considered and cohesive with the rest of the exterior. This exterior design is something that should be carefully considered, the outdoor area is essentially an extension of the interior concept and should be a part of the space planning stage too. A thoughtfully designed and consistent interior and exterior space will demonstrate to your prospective customers that you know what you’re doing, and entice them to want to spend time at your site over your competitors.

The Collective Coffee Shop - Exterior Visual

The Interior

Space planning
Spatial planning is hugely important in commercial design and especially in coffee shop design. Understanding the needs of the staff and the customers should be the at the forefront of the process. Not only does spacial planning have to be considered for design and functionality purposes but it also has to comply with industry regulations.

The best way to plan a coffee shop layout is to create a general arrangement. A general arrangement is a drawing that helps to create clarity for the intended usage of the space.
The main reason for creating a general arrangement is to identify the best flow of the space, as well as to indicate specifics and dimensions for the fit-out process. The space should balance customer experience and staff’s efficiency, this can often take a thought and design problem solving to get right.

Something else that will be a key consideration for a coffee shop brand is the amount of covers in the space, this essentially means the amount of customers they can seat in the space. The financial bottom line will be determined by the amount of customers the coffeeshop can host and average cost per ‘cover.’

The Collective Coffee Shop - Plan Drawing

Interior Design Concept
An important step when designing a coffee shop is to create clarity around the vision for your space, ideally the design concept should be aligned with your overall brand.
Nowadays customers are bothered by more than just how the coffee shop looks, but how do you take an aesthetically pleasing coffee shop and make sure it connects to your audience, builds connections and encourages loyalty?

Each step of the ‘coffee shop design’ process should be led by your brand’s purpose, your values should be at the core of all interior design decision making. We all have a story to tell and there’s no exceptions for your brand so why not use the carefully considered design to tell yours. The brand storytelling is what will set you apart from your competitors and encourage your customers to come back for more.

The easiest way to integrate this into the interior is to start by thinking about why your brand exists, and why you want to open a coffee shop?  Once you have clarity on this aspect you should then naturally start to be able to envision this within your coffee shop design, the atmosphere you create should speak the same language as your brand.

Ultimately the overall coffee shop should be recognisable to your brand and your brand only! Use the interior elements to tell this story and to help your customer ‘feel’ your band. Is your brand aesthetic simple yet sophisticated, paired back and minimal? What elements would reflect this aspect of your brand? Try to create a clear concept that brings together interior elements that are representative of your brand story.

The Collective Coffee Shop - Sample Board
The Collective Coffee Shop - Brand Colour Palette

Use of space
Paying careful attention to the general arrangement, layout and practical use of the space will help to create the right flow to the space and therefore improve the experience for your customers. The design of the restaurant will determine the atmosphere and experience for your customers, when restaurant design is successful it can transform the business.

One thing that can sometimes be overlooked is that the smaller the space the more carefully considered the design has to be. Large sites can also pose their own set of challenges when it comes to space planning, furniture layouts and usage of space. When considering the usage of space its good to consider zoning areas depending on your band positioning and what kind of atmosphere you want to create, such as relaxed cosy areas as well as more formal seating, or provide co-working/ group seating as well as private seating.

The Collective interior Sketchup

One thing to remember is to not neglect outdoor spaces, waiting areas or rest rooms; all of these spaces, if executed in line with the brand, will add value to this experience. When working with the core facilities within a coffee shop such as the counter, back bar, kitchen, back of house and w/c’s it’s important not to miss them out of the design process. There is always potential to incorporate these areas into the design scheme, by subtly designing these areas to align with the brand you will make sure that the experience for the customer is consistent throughout their entire visit. The small details will help them stay engaged with your band and make the overall experience more valuable and memorable.

Some brands take the opportunity to create ‘instagramble’ moments in these usually forgotten spaces, think outside the box when it comes to the rest rooms or consider adding impact to the entrance of the coffee shop. Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is to keep it ‘on brand.’

The Collective Coffee Shop - Sample Board

Furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) all collectively impact the customer and all of these elements should be considered in detail, the choices you make here will contribute to the customers experience so it’s important that they are connected and aligned to your brand values. The best way to pull together the interior elements and to create an interior vision is to create a look and feel presentation, look and feel presentations are key to pulling together the overall interior design concept, they are a great way to help visualise how parts of the interior will look once completed.

When choosing your furniture fixtures and equipment try to be consistent with the interior style choices to help keep the space coherent and recognisable to the brand. When it comes to tables and chairs, functionality is just as important as the aesthetics. The style and design of the chairs and tables should fit the purpose and habits of our customers, if they will be spending long periods sat in your premises you need to ensure the furniture is suitable for this. Choosing fabrics that are hard wearing and easy to keep clean or wipe down is most useful for coffee shops but don’t let this compromise the overall design scheme.

Finding a balance between the aesthetic of the coffee shop and the function of the space can be tricky, this is why finding a commercial interior designer to advise on this is a good idea. There’s no benefit in having a beautiful interior space if it doesn’t function smoothly for the customer or staff.

The Collective Coffee Shop - Sample Board
The Collective Coffee Shop - Sample Board


The type of lighting and placement of lighting plays a crucial role in the experience your customer has in your coffee shop. Again, it’s important to focus on the functionality of task lighting to ensure day to day tasks can be carried out, however don’t forget lighting can be both functional and decorative too. Don’t neglect your brand personality when it comes to this element for the coffee shop design, pops of colour or bold statement pieces will create points of focus within the coffee shop. When looking at coffee shop lighting, think about the colour of the light, the strength and the potential location of the lighting. Consider the way the light will work with the wall finishes and material colour choices. Colour can completely change the way the light is interpreted so you must work with these two things in tangent to ensure you create the balance you are looking for. 

Find out more about crafting connected Coffee Shop Interiors 


If you have found this blog helpful you may also like to consider reading some of our other insights.

Insight: A guide to Commercial Interiors

Insight: Brand Interiors: Highly Branded Interior Experiences 

Insight: Does brand strategy and design influence the choices customers make?

If you’re interested in understanding how we can help you to transform your interior and impact business growth then you may want to explore our Bar, Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Cafe or Commercial interior design service pages, or talk to us today!

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