Ideas for a coffee shop

We have an independent coffee shop in town called Beanetics.  I went there when they first opened, and have been going back ever since.  After one of the visits, I noticed all these things that I thought would be helpful.  I sent them to the owners, and got a nice thank you letter, but not much else.  So if you own your own coffee shop, here are some ideas that might help you get your java going.


Have menus of your coffee, snacks and gifts on the table. That way people can shop for a roast while they enjoy their beverage. It will also allow a longer description of the roast than on the menu board so people can get a better idea of what it is like.

Smell the variety

Have sample beans of the roasts available so people can get an aromatic sense of what the bean / roast smells like before purchasing.  I realize that beans lose their aroma, but it might be help the customer “bond” with a roast or a blend.

Custom gift packs (branded by the corporate gift giver)

What about offering custom coffee packs? Something like “give the gift of coffee this year” so you could put a company’s logo on the front, and they could hand it out as a gift. Or even promotional items. “Wake up to savings with new BRAND X PRODUCT Y” then on the back have your logo as well so they know where to get more of the excellent coffee (or brewing tips).

Make your own drink contest

What about a display with all the flavors and let people make their own drink / smoothie? You could expand this into a “contest” for people to make their own drink, and then you could track which drinks are ordered most. For instance, I might invent a “VanMarCo” Vanilla, Amaretto & Chocolate smoothie. Then I would tell my neighbor to go try my drink (#18) at beanetics, and see what they think. The drink with the most votes after X months wins a spot on the menu. This gets people talking about your establishment, and advertising it for you for free, and gets the names of local people in there to see who is inventing one. Think of it like a real live facebook for beanetics and getting free local advertising at the same time.

Where are you?

I live in Annandale.  I even live on one of the streets on your map, and I still couldn’t figure out what was going on.  You have the tiniest link to Google maps below your map.  Replace that map with Google maps.  It is what people expect, and they can get directions with fewer clicks.

Anywhere you list your address, should be a link to a map that takes you to your location on that map.


A great way to connect with your customers.  However, the last one you have is from 2010 and 2009.  It isn’t immediately apparent where to go to view it.  Make a small graphic that is the front page so people know right away to click on that.

Need content for your newsletter?  Have people write you articles, draw pictures, do something for it.  If you accept their article, they get a free cup of coffee.

What about a picture essay on how to roast and brew the perfect cup of coffee? People love picture essays.

Other ideas

I’ve got more, but hopefully these are enough to get you going.  If you are reading this and are another independent coffee shop, I’d love to hear from you and see how we can work together.


–Brett Thorson

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