March 7, 2024
Lauren Platero

6 Easy Ways to Create a Self Service Coffee Shop

A self service coffee shop is a lucrative business model within the fast casual space that’s growing in popularity. Let’s face it–coffee shops generally draw a large crowd since so many people crave a good cup of coffee (or tea) on almost a daily basis. However, in more recent years, restaurant industry leaders have been finding ways to implement product differentiation. In doing so, they landed upon the most convenient customer experience imaginable. After all, what’s better than using self service technology?

Are you in the middle of learning how to start a coffee shop but feel unsure as to the business model you want to establish? Or, are you trying to alleviate the cost to open a coffee shop and want to learn about the most frugal infrastructures? Either way, let us help you out! Read on for everything you need to know about the self service coffee shop business model.

What Is a Self Service Coffee Shop?

A self service coffee shop is one where customers can stop by and fix their own cups of coffee. Typically, the way it works is customers go up to the register and purchase a cup. If you think about it, that’s the same concept that fast food restaurants employ when they offer free refills.

The self service coffee shop doesn’t just limit customers to standard cups of coffee. They can invest in restaurant equipment rentals that allow people to make espresso, specialty coffee recipes, cold brew coffee, and so on.

It’s also common to find self service coffee shop elements in places like service stops, convenience stores, and gas stations. For example, Wawa is a chain that offers a mild selection of food and drinks. They have containers and dispensers with various types of coffee for customers to choose from. Then, just a few steps a way, said customers can add their choice of sweetener and cream. It’s also at this station that customers can grab napkins, a straw, or a to-go sleeve.

6 Easy Ways to Create a Self Service Coffee Shop

If you’re in the early stages of entrepreneurship and still drafting a coffee shop business plan, note that simplicity is key for a self service coffee shop. It’s not nearly as complex as a sit-down cafe and nowhere as expensive as a drive thru coffee shop. See below to discover what it takes to establish a self service coffee shop:

1. Invest In Proper Coffee Equipment

Commercial beverage dispensers are a must for self service coffee shop enterprises. You also need to ensure that you have canisters that accommodate both hot and cold liquids. The best coffee shops never have flavors or roasts that are out of stock, so ensure that you have backups on hand. Other tools like appliances, blenders, and frothers are also essential.

2. Onboard a Coffee Shop POS System

Invest in a POS system that you can integrate with coffee shop management software. This way, everything from payment data to coffee shop online orders can coexist in one place. Plus, a system tailored to your business type will allow you to leverage other groundbreaking features, such as coffee delivery service.

3. Offer a Standardized Menu

As customers fix their own coffee, it can be hard to manage inventory levels. The solution? Keep the menu as straightforward as possible. By keeping a standardized menu, food spoilage will be limited to fewer ingredients, if you even encounter it. It’ll also keep back of house storage more organized and reorders significantly simpler.

4. Stock Up On All the Necessary Ingredients

Purchase all your ingredients from a wholesale directory for ease and efficiency. You’ll need to purchase wholesale coffee beans, dairy and lactose-free creamers, sweeteners, and syrups. An inventory management system will also come in handy regarding food ingredients, too.  So, it makes perfect sense to place all orders under one account.

5. Invest In Self Ordering Kiosks

Most self service coffee shop brands will just have the equipment and dispensers to prepare basic cups of coffee. But what about the coffee trends that have unique variations and garnishing? Those can be made behind a counter alongside the food! For these coffee orders, install kiosks for people to manually place their orders. Then, all they have to do is pay for it with the receipt it prints out and dispose of it upon retrieving their drink.

6. Purchase To-Go Cups, Lids, Straws, Stirrers, and Sleeves

When you place orders for food and beverage ingredients, stock up on paper goods as well. Since a self service coffee shop doesn't promote sit-down dining, disposable to-go items are essential. By purchasing wholesale paper products in bulk, you’ll also save a lot of money on something that can be quite expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Self Service Coffee Shop

A self service coffee shop can be an extremely lucrative business venture if you set it up properly. From keeping your team at a minimum number of employees to gaining inspiration from established brands who do it right, there is so much to learn. Check out the following FAQ section for additional information on the topic at hand!

Can a Self Service Coffee Shop Be Profitable?

Oh yes, a self service coffee shop can be extremely profitable. If you’re contemplating how to start a coffee company, consider this business model for your layout and internal structure of your future entity. Besides, it’s one of the simplest coffee business types to launch from the ground up.

How Much Money Can a Self Service Coffee Shop Make?

According to various coffee statistics, a self service coffee shop can generate a few hundred thousand dollars per year. However, this figure will depend on multiple factors, like the location, markup, menu variety, and more. If you operate a franchise, there’s a higher likelihood of seeing massive profits due to its popularity.

Is Starbucks a Self Service Coffee Shop?

No, Starbucks is not a self service coffee shop since the staff prepares the drinks for the customers. Though you might assume that the industry giant falls within this category due to its coffee-fixing station, that’s not what makes a coffee shop “self-service.” If you’re envisioning what a self service coffee shop might look like, think of the area in a Wawa or 7-Eleven where you can make your own coffee drink.

Can a Self Service Coffee Shop Save a Lot By Not Employing a Big Staff?

Yes, a self service coffee shop can absolutely reduce the labor cost by employing fewer staff members. Since customers who stop by are able to make their drinks independently, there’s no need for servers, bussers, or hosts.

Is the Self Service Coffee Shop Business Model Popular?

Yes, not only is the self service coffee shop business model growing in popularity, but many local coffee shops are implementing its features. A prime example of this type of hybrid business model is Fido in Nashville, Tennessee. When you enter the eatery, you’re able to order food at the counter. But when you order coffee, you’re given a cup where you can fix it yourself. Not only does this eliminate work overload for the staff, but it helps to increase the table turnover rate.

Launching a Self Service Coffee Shop Is Easy!

There are several technologies and software solutions that’ll help your coffee shop offer self-service options. Luckily, the Revolution Ordering platform has everything you need to succeed. Book a demo with us to learn how POS integrations can streamline your coffee shop’s operations.