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Café Opening Checklist: Your Comprehensive Equipment Guide

By Nikita Nielsen · 13. March 2024

Planning a cafe or looking to improve your current one?

This guide will help you identify the essential equipment for your cafe.

We’ll cover the basics for brewing, kitchen necessities, and even tech upgrades to help your cafe run more efficiently.

This way, you can focus🎯 on what really matters – keeping your cafe humming and your customers happy.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose an espresso machine that fits your café’s expected customer volume. It’s important for handling the daily demand!
  • Outfit your café with toasters, grills, ovens, and food processors to offer a variety of foods like soups and sandwiches, not just coffee.
  • Create a comfortable café ambiance with more than just good coffee. Include cosy seating, attractive decor, and free Wi-Fi to encourage customers to stay longer.

Essential Coffee Brewing Equipment

Cafe Equipment Cafe Equipment

Diving into the heart of any successful cafe shop is an array of high-quality cafe equipment, including a top-notch coffee maker, perfect for crafting a variety of coffee beverages.

As a cafe owner, it’s an essential tool, ensuring that every cup of coffee served is a work of art, consistently delicious and perfectly brewed.

But what exactly is this arsenal of tools you need to master? Let’s find out.

Espresso Machines

The espresso machine is a must-have in your cafe, essential for making sure your coffee service is top-notch.

Think about how busy you expect to get each day to pick the right machine for your place.

  • If your cafe is on the smaller side with about 20 to 50 espresso drinks a day, a single-group espresso machine will do the trick.
  • For a cafe that’s a bit busier, serving up 100 to 200 drinks daily, a two-group espresso machine will keep things moving smoothly.
  • Big cafes that are serving 300 to 500 drinks each day will need the extra muscle of a three-group espresso machine.

Yet, it’s not all about simply choosing an espresso machine; consistent maintenance is key to ensure it operates smoothly day in, day out.

If your baristas are well-versed in their craft, an automatic espresso machine could be a valuable addition.

It offers them greater control over the coffee-making process, contributing to the consistent taste and quality of each drink.

Ultimately, the espresso machine is more than an appliance; it’s the central piece of your coffee brewing ensemble.


Next up is the coffee grinder. While it might seem like a small part of the coffee-making process, it’s actually key to achieving that perfect brew.

A good grinder ensures that your roasted coffee grounds are the right consistency, which is essential for extracting maximum flavour.

Here’s what to consider when choosing a grinder for your cafe:

  • Decide between a grinder with dosing options to measure out your grounds or a non-dosing type that lets you decide the amount.
  • Think about whether you want a grinder with easy-to-use preset settings or if you prefer the control of making infinite small adjustments to get the grind just right.

Every cup of coffee☕️ starts with perfectly ground beans, and that’s why the grinder is more important than it might first appear.

Pour-Over Sets & Cold Brew Systems

The final piece of the coffee equipment puzzle is the pour-over set and cold brew system.

These methods give baristas precise control over the brewing process, allowing for a high-quality coffee experience.

With the power to adjust the coffee-to-water ratio and brewing temperature, these systems are essential for bringing out the full range of coffee flavours and aromas, ensuring each cup is a delight for the senses.

While they may seem straightforward, pour-over sets and cold brew systems are indispensable for a coffee shop aiming to provide exceptional coffee.

Food Preparation Essentials

Your cafe isn’t just about coffee – it’s about offering a complete experience, and food is a big part of that.

From commercial toasters for those crispy morning toasts to panini grills for a hot afternoon snack, let’s explore the cafe equipment you need to keep your customers satisfied.

Ovens and Ranges

In your cafe’s kitchen, ovens and ranges are essential for daily operations.

Combination ovens, for instance, allow you to bake and steam a variety of foods including vegetables and bread.

Convection ovens are crucial for achieving even bakes and reducing cooking times, which is particularly beneficial in a busy cafe setting.

Induction burners are also an excellent choice for eco-conscious cafe owners. They are compact, efficient, and can significantly cut down on cooking time and energy use.

However, with any kitchen equipment that generates heat, it’s important to have proper ventilation.

This ensures a comfortable and safe environment by preventing excessive heat and smoke accumulation.


Now, consider the microwave – often overlooked, yet it plays a critical role in the things in a cafe or kitchen.

It might not have the allure of other appliances, but its utility is undeniable for quickly heating various food items.

Microwaves are really handy for defrosting food items, melting chocolate or cheese, warming up sauces, and a bunch of other things.

This versatile appliance stands by, ready to assist in a multitude of day-to-day culinary tasks, streamlining kitchen operations and ensuring customer orders are served promptly and deliciously.

Food Processors and Blenders

Finally, we have food processors and blenders, the multitaskers of the kitchen.

Food processors are great for quickly chopping vegetables or blending ingredients to the right consistency, making kitchen prep work a breeze.

Blenders are just as important, especially for cafes that serve smoothies and blended coffee drinks.

They ensure that these beverages are mixed smoothly for a satisfying customer experience.

Storage and Refrigeration Solutions

Moving on from the coffee brewing and food preparation equipment, it’s time to consider the essential storage and refrigeration solutions for your new coffee shop or cafe.

These systems are crucial for keeping your ingredients fresh, ensuring your drinks are served cold, and complying with health regulations.

Let’s explore the efficient world of walk-in coolers and the structured space of dry storage.

Walk-in Coolers and Commercial Refrigerators

Storing perishable items is no easy task, and that’s where walk-in coolers come in.

They offer ample bulk storage space, ideal for cafes serving high volumes of perishable items.

But it’s not just about having space; it’s about keeping things organised.

That’s where commercial refrigerators step in. They enhance the organisation of perishables, simplifying access, and inventory management.

And these aren’t your average household fridges. Commercial refrigerators come with adjustable shelves and temperature zones, offering versatility for storing a variety of products.

So whether it’s milk for your lattes or fresh fruits for your smoothies, you can rest assured they’re stored in optimal conditions!

Dry Storage and Shelving

Dry goods need to be stored at temperatures between 50°F and 70°F and humidity levels at or below 15% for optimal food preservation.

Foods must be stored off the ground and away from walls and direct sunlight to minimise the risk of contamination and degradation of food quality.

Your shelves need to be made from hardwood, durable plastic, or corrosion-resistant metal, and the top shelf should be no higher than 7 feet for accessibility.

And to determine the necessary storage space, you’ll have to consider the variety of your menu, the number of meals served, purchase quantities, and delivery intervals.

It’s not just about having space; it’s about utilising it effectively.

Cafe Furniture and Decor


Nwo, shift our focus to the front of the house. Your cafe isn’t just a place to grab a coffee; it’s a place to relax, work, or meet friends.

The right furniture and décor can create a cosy and visually appealing atmosphere that makes customers want to stay a while (and maybe order that extra cup of coffee).

To enhance this experience, having an attractive coffee shop website can help showcase your cafe’s unique ambiance and offerings, especially when opening a cafe or coffee shop.

Seating Arrangements

The first thing a customer notices is the seating. It’s crucial for comfort and efficient service.

Selecting the right chairs and tables, and arranging them well, ensures a smooth flow for patrons and staff.

Keep it cosy but spacious enough to avoid a cluttered feel. Your seating plan is key to a welcoming atmosphere!


When it comes to café ambiance, decor plays a crucial role. Here are some simple yet effective ideas to consider:

  • Use local culture or themes for a personal touch.
  • Combine vintage with modern elements for visual interest.
  • Select unique furniture or lighting to stand out.
  • Display local artwork or murals to support community artists.
  • Arrange seating to create intimate spaces for customers to enjoy.

Your decor should reflect your café’s character and make it a memorable spot that customers look forward to revisiting.

Technology and POS Systems

Technology has changed the way cafes and coffee shops operate, enhancing the customer experience and streamlining business operations.

From Wi-Fi connection to contactless ordering options, let’s explore how you can use technology to make your café the talk of the town.

Wi-Fi Connection

Offering free Wi-Fi📶 in your café is more of a necessity than a luxury. It can attract more customers, increase brand awareness, and even boost sales.

After all, who doesn’t love to enjoy a cup of coffee while scrolling through their social media feed or catching up on emails?

But the benefits of offering free Wi-Fi go beyond just attracting customers. It so local businesses can:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Lead to positive feedback and reviews
  • Enhance your café’s reputation
  • Support integrated payment processing and other technological features that rely on an internet connection, enhancing the customer experience

So, while it might seem like a small feature, offering free Wi-Fi can have a big impact on your café’s success and should be considered in your business plan.

Contactless Ordering Options

Contactless ordering has become a staple in the modern dining scene. It allows customers to tailor their orders to their personal tastes and dietary requirements without needing to flag down a waiter.

This not only streamlines service by cutting out the wait for a server to take the order but also enhances the overall dining experience.

Integrated payment options in POS systems, including popular services like Apple Pay and Google Pay, along with the ability to split bills, contribute to a smoother transaction process, leading to happier customers and potentially higher sales.

Adopting contactless ordering also provides valuable data through the POS system, shedding light on customer preferences.

This can be used to tailor the cafe experience to individual tastes. Additionally, it frees up staff to focus on providing excellent customer service, rather than juggling order-taking and payment processing tasks.

Health and Safety Compliance

Finally, health and safety compliance. Adhering to health and safety regulations is critical for a successful business, ensuring the well-being of your customers and employees, avoiding financial penalties, or legal problems.

From food safety equipment to sinks and handwashing stations, let’s dive into what you need to keep your café safe and clean with this cafe equipment checklist, which also serves as a comprehensive cafe opening checklist and a general cafe checklist.

Food Safety Equipment

It’s essential to have clean work surfaces in the kitchen, and using different coloured cutting boards for various types of food helps prevent mixing things up.

It’s not just about cleanliness, though; it’s also about staying organised. Implementing a system like FIFO (First In, First Out), where you label all food and containers with dates, is key for keeping track of freshness and ensuring nothing goes to waste.

But equipment is only part of the equation; we also have to think about personal hygiene. A good stock of hand sanitizer and soap is vital for maintaining clean hands in the café.

Plus, handwashing stations need to be set up properly with hot water, soap, and paper towels, so everyone can dry their hands effectively.

Remember, a clean café is a more inviting one!

Sinks and Handwashing Stations

To maintain high hygiene standards and prevent cross-contamination, you need separate sinks for dishwashing, handwashing, and food washing.

A small café must have at least two sinks, with one being a double sink for washing and rinsing equipment and the other solely for handwashing.

And if you’re dealing with high-risk foods like meats or dairy products, you might even need additional sinks for food preparation.

Plus, health and safety inspection checklists assess whether appropriate sinks and sanitization stations are installed and if they are properly utilised.

So don’t overlook the importance of sinks and handwashing stations – they’re more important than you might think!


From the aroma of freshly brewed coffee to the cosy ambiance of your café, every detail matters. It’s not just about serving coffee; it’s about creating an experience.

And as we’ve seen, it takes a lot of planning and the right equipment to make that happen.

But with this comprehensive guide, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to make your café dream a reality. So go ahead, take the leap, and start your café journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

How profitable is owning a cafe?

Owning a cafe can be profitable with the average revenue nationally between 75%-80% of sales, which is higher than some restaurant business models. The revenue depends on factors such as location, menu, and labour costs.

What do I need for my cafe?

You’ll need drip coffeemakers, coffee presses, espresso machines, industrial grinders, water filtration systems, food prep tables, and storage for your cafe. Don’t forget the coffee beans and quality equipment to brew the perfect cup!

What is found in cafes?

In any given cafe, you’re bound to encounter a wide variety of drinks and edible delights. The menu typically includes a variety of espresso-based beverages and a selection of teas, complemented by a tempting spread of baked goods, sandwiches, and other delectable items designed to cater to both the grab-and-go crowd and those wishing to linger over their meal.

What is the most important piece of equipment in a coffee shop?

In cafes, the espresso machine takes the crown as the most important piece of equipment. It’s the key player in serving up top-notch coffee.

How can technology enhance the café experience?

By streamlining operations, offering conveniences like free Wi-Fi and contactless ordering, and providing valuable data for personalization, technology can truly elevate the café experience.

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