Coffee Shops are the New Mall

How about we talk about Coffee Shops? I was with a friend on a random Saturday afternoon, and we were trying to think of something fun to do together out on the town. My friend turned to me and said, “let’s go to a new coffee shop I heard about!” I thought, wow, back in the day we used to go to the mall and wonder around aimlessly shopping and chatting, but now, we are so immersed in our phones, emails, and social media all day that we are craving true human connection when we get the chance. Just one-on-one time in a nice environment.

Coffee shops are places people love to go to get away from their normal run-of-the-mill day. They can be cozy, sleek, dark, light — it all depends on your mood! So how what kind of space should Coffee Shop owner’s design?


It’s important to think like your customers. What do they need? What do you look for in coffee shops they frequent? What do they hate about coffee shops they try avoiding?

Here are my top things to think about when designing a coffee shop:

  1. Set the Mood
    You need to have have a clear vibe in your coffee shop. Being generically cozy can be nice, but the more specific you get, the more memorable your space will be. One way of deciding on this is creating a persona of your ideal client. Let’s say your target customer is a college student Millennial? Maybe you play up pastels, rose golds, and palm leaves. You can still create a vibe that is flexible enough to evolve with trends over time.

  2. Give Variety
    Does your environment change throughout the day? Maybe you could focus on coffee and donuts by day and beer and tapas by night.
    Do you offer a variety of seating types? Lounge vs. Table, vs. Bar? Think about spaces for groups and spaces for heads-down, earphone-focused computer work.

  3. Be Special
    What sets you apart? You need a reason for people to remember you and a reason for people to come back to you.
    Maybe you serve the best chocolate chip cookies around. If so, OWN IT! And play it up!
    Maybe you have a killer vinyl collection and make an event of DJing music from different decades or genres at peak times.
    Maybe you always have fresh flowers or herbs on the tables.
    Maybe you sell locally made hostess gifts or chocolates. Something easy, unique, but cost conscience to pick up for a birthday or forget-me-not
    Or Maybe you encourage a wifi free zone by offering “coloring” crayons and paper at each seat or in one section. (I saw this at a hotel once, and it was amazing!)

  4. Lighting is key
    Putting energy into lighting design is the #1 way to make your shop look like you spent more money than you actually did. Go into any new Starbucks and look at the lighting. It is exquisite! And it makes all the difference in a space.
    A professional designer can help you avoid common mistakes like mismatched color temperatures, incorrectly spaced lights, poorly placed lighting, etc.

Design, Coffee ShopsSarah Walton