How to open a café

How to open a cafe

Coffee is one, if not even the most popular drink throughout the world. Whether one drinks it to get awake, to get rid of a headache, to become more energetic, or just for consumption, it is used and loved for many reasons. No wonder cafés are an extremely successful business. However, just like any other business, it takes a lot of time, effort, and planning. We from METRO want to provide you with the most important details and steps you need to follow to start up something big.

Knowing What Is Coming

1. doing the necessary research for a Café  

Market research for cafe

To open a café is just like any other business. It is a big investment in time and money. So, you need to be aware and understand the effort and energy you need to put in, to run a successful business. You should reach out to coffee business owners and learn from their experience.

Even if you can’t get enough information from them, you can already learn a lot by observing. Go out and visit as many cafés as possible. Drink coffee, rate it, look around the location, and get inspired by the style, how the business is run and how the drinks are made. Make a list with ratings for yourself. Think about which elements you want to take for your business and what will make you unique from others.

Being a café-owner, you will deal with a lot of people. So, you should not only study the café itself, but also the customers. Who will they be and what are their needs and expectations? What do they like the most in other cafés and what did they not like? Studying your customers will help you with your planning process and helps you create a menu, prices, and a comfortable environment.


1.1 Getting to know the environment

When doing research, you should also look up where and how many cafés in specific areas exist. This will show you where there is a necessity for a café or if there's a good one. There will be areas, where there are many good cafés and others where there are many but not good ones. But there are still many areas, where they lack cafés in general. Aim for these areas. This is the first step in choosing the right location.

Also, look at the business records of your town. This could be useful, as you get information about which cafés have closed in recent years and why. Make a list of their mistakes, so you can avoid them. Another important point here, when studying the areas, is if a business like that can even contribute to the local life. This will save you both, time, and money.


1.2 Studying the competitors

This step goes hand in hand with the previous one. As you study the cafés in a specific area, you should also study your competitors. Eventually, you will have to ask yourself the question if you will be able to compete and keep it up with them. If you decide to establish your business in an area with many cafés, you must be more unique than ever. And even if you decide to open in a more café-lacking area, bear in mind that people might take a long ride to a far-away café to drink a good coffee, rather than going to a nearby but bad one. So, either way, you will compete with bigger brands.

The key is to learn from their good, their bad, and their ugly. It is about taking their experience and making it better. But it is also about putting in your sparkle. We at METRO do not want you to copy a business. We want you to get inspired by them and improve what they did wrong. Only then you can compete and make a small business grow big.

Select a Theme and Location

2. Defining the vision for your cafÉ

Choosing coffee shop concept

2.1 Choosing a concept

There is a very important point a lot of people forget when opening a business of such sort. The goal is not to please everybody. This is very unrealistic and simply not possible. It rather is understanding who your customers are, and for which target group your business is designed. For this sake, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is your target group?
  • What are their demographics?
  • Are the customers in a specific area willing to pay for your coffee? Do they perceive your prices as reasonable enough?
  • Will you offer food? If yes, will you do it yourself or do you have to work together with a bakery?
  • Do you want to offer sit-down services?
Coffee shop interior

2.2 Fine-tuning the idea

Before you get started with the implementation stage, think about the idea of café you have in mind. Bring down all your visions and goals on paper. Think about what atmosphere you want to create in your location. After looking around some cafés and getting inspiration, the picture of your own business becomes more and more complete, just like a puzzle. Now you need to work on all the details. Ask yourself, what style your café should have, how you want to serve your products, and think about your payment system. Also, start thinking about how you want to design and decorate your interior.

Do not forget all the details such as the coffee mugs and cups, the menus, the wallpapers, the cashier’s desk, the fridge with the cake, etc. A clearly defined and written-down vision will help you with the following planning and implementing steps. It will help you with choosing a name and logo for your brand, finally deciding on the décor, planning the food, finishing the menu, choosing the coffee, and even defining a way to interact with and please the customers.

Cafe outdoors

2.3 Choosing the right location for your business 

We have already stressed the fact of studying the areas where you consider opening your café and by now the circle should be smaller. Now, before you finally decide on a location, spend some more time in those areas and have your eyes wide open. Specifically observe how many people are moving on foot and how the parking situation is. Also, you need to, once again, think about the following questions: Is the location visible enough and easy to reach? How much food traffic is around the location? What are the demographics in that area? What do the people in this area like and dislike? Who exactly am I competing with?

Bear in mind that you will spend a lot of time in your café. So, you must know your environment and the area and know the people living there. Also, study the crime rates, the regulations and zoning and the distance from suppliers. Every detail has a huge impact on the business’s success. Additionally, you should consider the location itself. You should make sure there is ample room and all the necessary gas, drain, and water lines installed. Also, you might consider having a front-of-house area, so see if you have enough space and capacity for that. All these things also influence your start-up costs and should be well thought out.

Business Plan, Legal & Funding

3. completing all the paperwork for your café

3.1 Creating a complete business plan

Many people are tempted to skip this step, as it is too much writing and brain work. But, in reality, it is just your idea and brainstorming, sealed into paper. Also, bringing together an almost-perfect business plan is a crucial factor for the success of your business. It is your stairway to the success of your brand. It will guide you through each step of the implementation and helps you with structuring them. In short, the plan should include:

  • A summary
  • A local market analysis
  • A vision of your team
  • A marketing strategy
  • A shopping list and a financing plan
  • Financial projections
  • A location and lease strategy

3.2 Securing the legal rights

This step is even more hated than creating the business plan, as it has absolutely no room for creativity. It is just doing boring paperwork and getting the necessary permits and licenses. Because these differ by city and state, check with your local government and make a list of all the papers you need. Waiting for the approval of all the handed-in papers may take some time. So, start filling them in as soon as possible and do them correctly and neatly. You will need your valuable time elsewhere.

3.3 Getting start-up loans

Opening a café is expensive, just like any other type of business. So, you need to ensure you have enough funding and start-up capital. You can try traditional commercial loans, business lines of credit, or small business loans. You can even impress sponsors or funders by crowdfunding with your idea. Another option is taking out credit from a bank.

Quality appliances for QUALITY EXPERIENCES
Make your guests happy with freshly tapped beer and really good coffee. Choose the best appliances for your café.
Browse our devices
Must Have Items

4. ordering the equipment for the café

Coffee brewer, coffee equipment

4.1 Making an equipment list

When it comes to shopping, you might find yourself lost in all the gadgets you will need and where to buy them. Here you can help yourself by asking around in other cafés and looking at their equipment. Here some of the equipment you might need:

Browse our equipment
Coffee beans supplier

4.2 Finding a supplier for the coffee beans

Cafés are specialized in serving freshly brewed and high-quality coffee, and that is the most important thing in your business. So, finding a qualitative and reliable supplier is essential for your café’s success. Also here, you should ask yourself questions about what you are looking for in a supplier and your products.

  • Do you want sustainable products? Do you want them all fair-traded?
  • What tastes are you aiming for? Do you want the coffee more sour and bitter, or do you want it to be creamier and more intense? Or do you even want to offer both options?
  • How about the other drinks, such as tea? What types of tea do you want and how did you imagine serving them? Do you prefer the tea packed in teabags, or do you want to create your herbal mixture?

But not only should you look for good coffee beans. There are many more supplies that you will need. Milk. Eventually ingredients for bread and cakes. Cups and napkins. Coffee stirrers. Teapots and teabags. Syrups. There are many more things, that should be added to this list. Make sure to write everything down and start looking for suppliers for each point. Make sure, your work with trustworthy people, who can assure you of their quality and always keep all the agreements official with signed contracts.

Styling, Staff & Marketing

5. opening your café

By now, you should have gotten all the permits and licenses needed and you should have found a suitable supplier for you. Also, you should have renovated the place as you imagined. Now comes the final stage of your opening journey.

Opening your cafe

5.1 Establishing the final elements

We at METRO already stressed enough, that the right style and harmony in your café are crucial for drawing in customers and for the café’s success. Now you should fine-tune your interior a bit more. This means, setting in decorative elements such as suitable paintings and plans, desk decorations, and hanging up the cafés name and logo on the frontside. Again, make sure that the style and colours are all harmonizing and matching with each other.

5.2 Hiring the right people

This step is harder than it may sound. Many people want to hire experienced staff, when, in reality, everyone can be trained. But what can’t be easily gained is a good attitude and manner. So, when looking for your team, search for motivated people with great positive energy. Train and prepare them for what is coming, and set up a reliable and trustworthy team, who is willing to learn.

Learn more about Hiring Staff


5.3 Marketing your café

Now, after opening your café, it is about time to draw attention to it. The most success-bringing marketing strategy is social media. Create a page on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Also, create a website and claim a Google Maps listing and a page on review sites such as TripAdvisor.

The hardest step is to get the first customers, but as soon as you get and impress them with your brand, the word will spread around quickly. For a jumpstart, you can distribute flyers or giving out samples on the streets. Every beginning is hard and requires hard work, but it will pay off. We at METRO believe in you!

To Sum Up

6. Summary - how to open a cafÉ

In summary, the following questions can help you, to open a café smoothly:

  • Which customers do you want to address?
  • How much potential does the market have?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • How do you want to make your café known? 
Frequently Asked Questions

7. faq -  how to open a café

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