BLOG // // 15.11.2019

Successful coffee shop - one time customers into regulars

Why some of the coffee shops don't seem to be successful in all the customers and some of them are left without any? How to get people to visit your location and come back over and over again?  What makes a successful coffee shop? A successful coffee shop doesn't just happen and there are many reasons behind a successful coffee shop.

Barriers to fight against 

According to Perfect Daily Grind, Up to 60% of cafés and small restaurants close in their first year of opening, for reasons such as market saturation, inadequate capital, industry inexperience, and a lack of business planning. In this post we will concentrate on quality, service and standing out. 
Next time we will have a look at some basics of running a coffee shop. 

In the early 2000’s, it was said that three factors to success are “location, location, location!”. 
Today, if you have a good location but low quality products and lousy service, it is impossible to engage customers and get regulars.

Coffee and other products 

  • Quality: high quality ingredients, best brewing recipes, consistency, fresh and appealing sweet & savory selections are keys to success. 
  • Selection: have the most popular products in the market and something special that makes you unique. 
  • Seasonality: take an advantage of seasonal products and phenomenas. Coffee is relevant throughout the year. Remember the possibilities of cold brew! Be innovative. Christmas = not necessarily cinnamon. Halloween = not necessarily pumpkin.   
cozy coffee shop in USA
Verve Coffee Roasters in San Francisco

Baristas and service  

  • Having skilled baristas in the crew is a true gift! And getting them committed is another. Training your crew, supporting their professional development and making sure they know their products is essential.    
  • Customer service can nail it or fail it. Attitude, mood and body language are openly read by the customer. That is equally important to the product information the barista is able to give. Speak the customers’ tone, know your regulars and have an effect on the purchase decision!    
  • Also being present while confronting the customer and being effective at the same time sometimes leads to a disaster. Multitasking is not equal to making a hassle. Be fast but not furious! And leave that phone of yours and chatting with a colleague when confronting a customer. 
friendly barista in paulig kulma
Head Barista Annabel in Paulig Kulma

Service design and customer journey

  • When purchasing a cup of coffee, one gets so much more than just a cup of coffee. The service design is something to be planned thoroughly – better late than never. Popping into your coffee shop is always an experience, not just a money transaction or getting a product. 
  • Does your coffee shop look tempting outside? What about inside: lights, colors, music, acoustic, interior, nice details to see and touch and explore…? 
  • Make a cleanup check list of for each shift and make sure the toilet cleanliness is included! 
  • Customer journey should be smooth from door to table. Sometimes it is good to take the role of a customer and make the journey yourself. Are there any barriers for smoothly walking the journey through? Are the products nicely and clearly presented? Do you get a “hello” from the barista?   
  • The equipment and machines should meet the volume, menu, skills of the baristas and realism. 
  • If the working space is not planned well, it can have an effect not only to ergonomics and safety but also service. 
customer path
Customer path in a coffee shop

Trends and social media

  • Know the current trends and take the advantage on them. Remember trends eventually become phenomenas and finally a global lifestyle. Read more about trend from my blog post here.  
  • Ensure your coffee shop is known and recognized also in SoMe. Did you know that coffee and food are the most popular things in Instagram?  
  • Your display should  look delicious and your products should look beautiful. Coffeewise latte art is very instagrammable. Customers are taking pictures of them and promoting you for free in SoMe! Just make sure your location can be tagged in the posts. 
  • If your coffee shop is active in SoMe, you will get more traffic and followers and the awareness of your coffee shop is spreading. That will lead to you having more potential customers. Choose the things you want to communicate in this channel: products, offers, events, feeling…How about having your staff make stories to Instagram? Anyway, be recognazible and consistent. Know your target group. Stand out and bring forward your specialities. Be real and approachable.
coffee shop in san francisco
Social media friendly coffee shop in San Francisco


I asked this from a coffee shop owner, a professional barista and a random coffee shop customer what makes a good coffee shop. Let’s see what they have in their minds! 

Annabel McPartlin, head barista @ Paulig Kulma in Kluuvi, Helsinki 
What in my opinion makes a good coffee shop is a convincing concept executed in a matching setting and milieu. Atmosphere, great customer service and high quality products create an experience the customer wants to have over and over again. Engagement is the key!    

Essi Rautiainen, entrepreneur @ Cafe Tarina in Tapiola and Munkkiniemi, Helsinki
Customer service is something that we never compromise. Also cleanliness of the brewing equipment really makes difference! Obviously the product needs to be good, too. Good staff makes the daily life so much easier! The dynamics should work well and the baristas should know how to confront different types of customers. Also, nowadays it is so common to hear a barista say “yeah” and “ok” when they should say “thank you”. 

Tuomas, random dude who drinks an espresso per a day, Helsinki
Products need to be great! Lights and acoustics are important, too. It is nice to have some sounds in the background but not too much noise as that makes it hard to work at a coffee shop. What I have noticed, is that it is possible for a barista to turn her/himself into a brand which is interesting from a consumer point of view!  
Turning a one time customer into a regular i.e. engagement should be one of the main goals as by doing that, you can grow our volume in quite simple way.

To make it happen, you need high quality products, professional service and something that people recognize you of. 

Of course this is not all – in the next blog post about a successful coffee shop, some basics of running a coffee shop will be covered.