There are an estimated 20,000 coffee shops in the United Kingdom, with the two largest chains making up just under 3,500 of those. Independent coffee shops are thriving, and so is the UK coffee industry, currently valued at £15bn. Timing has never been better to go it alone.

Coffee shops are the ultimate day time meeting place, but ordering a coffee is an art form these days and finding your ‘one’ is a sense of accomplishment. From flat whites to cappuccinos, frappes, lattes and americanos, your choice of milk, sizing, extra shots and more. Coffee shops have a reached a social status of their own, often their aesthetic and in house experience making for a favoured Instagram post.

If you are thinking about opening your own independent establishment, thinking through your coffee shop interior design must feature thoroughly in your plans. This goes far beyond layout and colour of the walls.

How your brand will determine and shape the interior design concept

By being an independent establishment, your coffee shop design is unique, you can take this and run with it. Your shop can stand out where chains blend in, the way you design your interiors and sell your core values is what will keep your customer base coming back and expanding.

Your ability to have a unique shop must not be your downfall however, with chains, customers know what they are getting; its familiar. For your brand not only do you need to ensure you look inviting and welcoming, but is it obvious from the outside what you offer?
Do you offer a takeaway deal? Or a breakfast pastry and coffee deal? You do not want to clutter the shop front, but most customers like to have an idea of what to expect before they step over the threshold.

Additionally, you are a local business, and post Covid, that is a bigger strength than ever, with everyone supporting ‘shop small, shop local.’ You can actively get involved in the community, projects, and events in a way that a chain coffee shop couldn’t, cementing your place as a pillar of the high street.

Big coffee giants are often impersonal, but you have your own story to tell, a reason why you wanted to set up your coffee shop. Before you even open, utilise social media locally in the way that chains cannot by sharing your story via Instagram and Facebook. This allows customers to get to know you, people will relate to you and be invested in the success of a new local business.

When curating your feed, it should give the same vibe as your shop, they should feel connected already, so start by sharing parts of the journey to opening; Staff introductions, décor, menus, even menu suggestions from your followers – they will be so excited to try their favourite menu item on opening day.

Customers love a ‘feel good’ moment too, so do a percentage of your sales go to charity? Does left over food go to food banks? Do you use sustainably sourced coffee and coffee cups? Can you link your feel-good mission to a unique selling point by selling branded reusable coffee cups and offer a discount when they bring it with them? If so, how are you incorporating this into your coffee shop design?

You have your location, you have been dreaming up your menu and interiors and you’ve set up your business social media, but how are you going to pull it all together through your coffee shop design?

Let’s say your coffee shop is eco-friendly, how are you going to ensure that message is clear? Your customers should leave your coffee shop feeling like that have done something good for the environment whilst catching up with friends.

Planning your layout is your starting point, ensuring you are access friendly for all, as an eco-friendly establishment, your interiors are likely to be relaxed, using reclaimed wood and other materials to form your décor and furniture.

Sourcing local independent products is a talking point that clients love; everything from your hand wash in the restrooms to your coffee and who printed your menus. You want to continue your eco friendly story throughout, so your menus should be wipe clean, and are you displaying your support of only using Fairtrade approved products? Do you clean with eco-friendly products?

You can switch out sugar sachets for re-fillable jars, stirrers for spoons and use incentivised reusable cups.
If you are donating left over food to a food bank, or school, or perhaps your tips jar supports a local charity, make sure you have a sign telling that story, why you chose it and how each customer is helping their cause.

Your coffee shop design is sorted from the inside, but that’s not where your customer journey starts, how are you connecting and conveying your message from the outside? Does your logo induce feelings of being natural and eco-friendly? Is it clear for them to see? Could you add some greenery and plants outside and follow that inside to bring the feeling of nature to the forefront.

Of course, your social media must convey the same message, a customer’s experience starts from looking you up to being in your shop and enjoying a coffee, it must be consistently authentic. It’s the experience that will keep them coming back and telling friends and family all about you.


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