BPA POS Solutions | The Business Behind the Coffee

Point of Sale software news, updates, and insights

The Business Behind the Coffee

Jan 14, 2015

What Happens behind the Scenes of Your Local Coffee Shop

Think of your trip to work this morning. How many coffee shops did you pass? Probably more than a few. There are over 53,000 coffee and snack shops in the United States, with over $30 billion in total revenue each year. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder that there seems to be a coffee shop on every corner, and with a market share of over 30%, it’s also no wonder that many of the shops you see have the name Starbucks emblazoned across the front of them. But let’s forget the big name chains for a little bit and take a peek behind the scenes at your local coffee shop.

The Crazy Hours

We’re pretty sure that nobody gets into the coffee shop business for the hours. Like any business in the hospitality industry, the hours tend to be much longer than office or even retail hours: opening earlier and staying open later. Many coffee shops have work that must be done about 18 hours a day, 7 seven days a week, with the owners or managers working a vast majority of those hours. Despite extended hours of operation, the majority of sales for a coffee shop still occur in the morning, between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., with the bulk of that occurring between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., creating a very narrow window for turning a profit. Oh, and the next time you’re enjoying your Americano, Cappuccino or Macchiato on your paid day off from work, remember that holidays are essentially non-existent for a coffee shop.

The Tasty Products

Any coffee shop that is capable of being profitable in a world of Starbucks and other chain coffee shops has to offer coffee and other products that their customers love. Coffee drinkers are fiercely loyal to their coffee brand, but winning that loyalty can be tricky. Balancing consistency in product delivery with food safety involving perishable products and ingredients is no simple task. It takes a complicated combination of training, processes and ingredient monitoring to ensure that you get exactly what you’re craving every time.

The Friendly Staff

The best coffee shops have a friendly and welcoming staff from the owners and managers down to the people clearing your table. However, that doesn’t just happen. It’s an ongoing struggle for coffee shop owners to find good, reliable help that is also willing to act happy and friendly even when they’re having a bad day. Working in a service industry tends to be fast-paced and stressful; doing so with a smile on your face takes a special kind of person.

The Great Environment

Chances are that your local coffee shop has something unique to offer in the way of environment. Whether they’re going for warm and cozy, geek chic or fun and off-beat, they have to maintain their appearance to keep their customers happy. Cleanliness on both sides of the counter helps create an ambiance that feels welcoming and inviting but takes a lot of attention to detail and self-motivation on the part of the staff.

The Hidden Side of Business

Running behind all of the surface activities at your local coffee shop is a veritable torrent of hidden activity. In order to facilitate a smooth-running business, there are many things that have to happen. Among these activities: inventory must be ordered, stocked and tracked; people must be payed; cash flow must be managed; and taxes must be payed on time. Many of these activities can be simplified by using a quality restaurant POS system, but it still takes time. And with average checks as low as $2.00-$4.50, it takes a lot of transactions every day to come out ahead in the coffee shop business.

As you can see, there’s a lot more going on at your local coffee shop than just coffee and pastries. So, the next time you stop in to get your caffeine fix, take a moment to appreciate how much has gone into your “cup of joe.”


  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/196590/total-number-of-snack-and-coffee-shops-in-the-us-since-2002/
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/196570/revenue-of-the-us-coffee-and-snack-shops-industry-since-2002/
  3. https://www.statista.com/topics/1670/coffeehouse-chain-market/
  4. https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-challenging-part-of-running-the-operations-of-a-coffee-shop

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