Design Tips: Coffee Shops & Customer Experience

Jonestown Coffee, Bethnal Green, London. Interior Design by Forster Inc.

Think about your last visit to your favourite coffee shop. Where did you sit? How long did you stay?

Have you ever considered what draws you to certain seating – and why?

Visiting a coffee shop isn’t just about the food and drink. In fact, since London’s first one opened in 1652, coffee houses have been places of meeting, of conversation and of ideas. Interiors play a huge part in how we experience cafes, chosen purposefully to guide you through the space – whether that is to ‘grab and go’ or to stay and unwind.

Most cafes have 4 delineated areas, each with a distinct feel and experience. Continue reading to learn what these are and our tips for how to design this in your own coffee shop.

The Counter Space

The coffee counter is almost always the focal point of a cafe, channelling customers to make their orders immediately when entering. Designed to be a quick and efficient process, the relationship between customer and menu here is the most important, which is often why menus are bold and graphic and baristas areas are slightly elevated.

DESIGN TIP: Think about your customer journey. All coffee shops – whether a coffee house or an espresso bar – have one underlying aim in common: they want to encourage customers to buy their merchandise. Ensure to keep this first step in the journey in mind when establishing layout and design of your coffee business.

The Window Coffee Bar

Coffee bars are often high, almost standing level, with wooden stools placed near to a window – all purposeful choices to make you not want to linger. The experience here is casual and quick, where customers are connected with both the café and the outside world.

DESIGN TIP: Consider comfort.  High stools and bars in windows are perfect for smaller spaces and espresso bars. However, it’s also less relaxing and dissuades conversation. Consider comfort when establishing your customer journey.

The Table Area

Customers seeking a more social or longer café experience choose tables. More of a restaurant feel, this area invites conversation, working or group meetings. Long communal tables encourage people to meet, whereas individual tables are more private.

DESIGN TIP: Provide a variety of distinct areas. If you have the space, designating different areas of purpose will widen your customer appeal. Using lighting, soft furnishings, shelving or even furniture types can help create the sense of ‘space’ in an otherwise open floorplan. We explain all about this trick in one of our previous blog posts.

The Sofas

Sofas in a coffee shop are often nestled away in the back or in a corner, done purposefully for seclusion and privacy and designed to make customers relax. Comfort is key here, with living room furniture used to create that cosy feeling of ‘home away from home’ – and hopefully entice customers to stay, drink and eat.

DESIGN TIP: Furniture can tell a story…so make sure it tells the right story. Whether you choose high stools, long tables for low sofas, your furniture choices – and your interior design as a whole – will tell a story. Make sure they tell the right story for your business.

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We can help you work out your story. Get in touch to find out what we can do for you.