How to Start a Small Cafe Business

By Nicky LaMarco

  • Overview

    Small cafe businesses are thriving in today's world. Cafes are no longer just coffee shops with pastries anymore. Small cafe businesses now have Internet access, larger food menus, open mic nights and more. Starting a small cafe business has plenty of opportunities to earn revenue and have fun. Your customers will be those who need a place to work on their laptops, someone stopping for lunch, business people who need a comfortable place to meet or someone who wants to enjoy a well made cafe latte.
    Cafe Coffee Mugs
    • Step 1

      Decide if you want to buy an existing building for your small cafe business or if you want to have yours built from scratch. The advantage of buying a building and turning it into your small cafe business is that it will cost less and take less time. The advantage of buying land to have your cafe built on is that you can work with an architect to design your small cafe business the way you want it.
    • Step 2

      Choose the location for your small cafe business. A good location is easy to drive to or walk to, and has good parking. It should also be a good distance from other cafes and coffeehouses. If you like the location but there is already a small cafe business there see if you can get a spot at least a block away. Having competition is good, but you don't want to set up your cafe right next door to another.


    • Step 3

      Create your menu, or hire someone to help you. This is where you will need to decide what varieties of coffees and foods you will be making and serving. Depending on your business hours you can have breakfast, lunch, snacks and desserts. You will need to create your menu so customers will have something to order from when they come in. What types of coffee will you have?
    • Step 4

      Buy the coffee equipment you will need, as well as furniture and food display cases. For starters you will need an espresso machine, coffee grinders, decanter brewers, refrigerators, freezers, blenders, frozen machines, airpots, water filters, paper filters, coffee mugs and hot/cold take out paper cups. You will need tables and chairs for your guests to sit on. Some small cafe businesses choose to go casual and comfortable by getting tables and chairs from thrift stores and donations. Even though they won't necessarily match, they'll definitely be inviting.
    • Step 5

      Hire baristas. Baristas are experts in making a wide variety of coffees. They understand the different coffees, the ingredients required, and know how to use the equipment. A lot goes into a fine cup of coffee and you need the right staff for the job. Find baristas who have had experience working in other cafes making coffee. You can hire one or two excellent baristas and then hire others who can be trained.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Tip: Shop around for a good deal on equipment and furniture.

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