You know when you’ve found one: the awesome coffee shop. These little spots brighten up the days of millions of people each day, and you’re one of their favorite customers. Still, if you’ve been a coffee drinker for more than a few months, you’ve definitely experienced some coffee shops that left you feeling like something is missing. This is a sad state to experience. No amount of caffeine can bring joy to the experience. But why are these coffee shops such a downer, and what makes a great coffee shop? Here are three common characteristics that great coffee shops all share.
1. They Keep Things Moving Without Sacrificing Quality. Most successful coffee shops are high-traffic places. In the future we’ll have automated services that spit out caffeine-beverages (they already exist in some markets), but it is going to be a long time before these services come close to matching the quality achieved by a skilled barista. Quality shops have experienced staff who can work fast without screwing up. They also don’t cut corners on ingredients or best practices. A quality coffee shop will seem busy (because it is!), but it won’t seem like the line is endless or the staff seem in over their heads. The person running the iPad POS will knock out dozens of orders every hour, and each one will arrive at counter or table at the peak of quality. It’ll seem like magic, but it’s just hard work and knowledge.
2. They Know Where to Spend Their Money. Coffee shop profit margins are tight – don’t let anyone tell you different. This is why so many coffee shops go for a “minimal” look inside. It’s not just looks, it’s impractical to spend money on expensive furnishings. Sometimes, coffee shops opt for the more expensive embellishments, but they do so at the expense of other important aspects of the coffee shop experience. Sometimes its employee pay, meaning that talented workers go elsewhere or experience burnout. Other times they don’t spend money on their core product, or don’t maintain their equipment. All of these factors can produce a mediocre product and a mediocre coffee shop.
3. They Make it About the Coffee…And the People. Every coffee lover has been to a coffee snob coffee shop. There, coffee nerds shiver in caffeine-induced titillation while watching the stream of espresso take on different shades, commenting on each. This is all well and good, but sometimes these folks can make the less enthusiastic feel out of place. Great coffee shops make a priority of coffee quality. They’re into it. They know what they’re doing. But they don’t make people feel stupid if they’re not as knowledgeable about coffee. Coffee has its place, and it’s beneath the importance of the customer experience.
There are other ways that great coffee shops do their thing, and there is diversity in this category as well. But there are certain characteristics that all great coffee shops share, and you know you’re in one the moment you step through the door. Drink great coffee, friends.