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If you plan to open your own café, the coffee shop floor plan will be the most important decision you make. In many states, shop owners will need to submit floor plans in order to get a permit for new restaurant construction. This means that before the physical work – demolition, electrical work, plumbing, and appliance installation – you’ll need to have your floor plan strategy drafted and ready to go.

If you’ve spent enough time in coffee shops, you’ve probably picked up on a few trends. There’s a point of sale, a counter, a behind-the-counter workspace, seating, and, likely, a small and well-curated retail section. But unless you’ve created a shop yourself, you might not know the logic behind these sections’ placement. Optimizing your floor space will take a bit of creativity, a few compromises, and a lot of measuring. Here are a few strategies to consider.

Understand the dimensions. Your retail design will rely entirely on the size and dimensions of your space. According to Total Food Service, you’ll want about 15 square feet dedicated to each customer to keep guests comfortable. This takes into account the space needed for traffic aisles, the counter, and point of sale. Nobody likes an uncomfortably cozy coffee shop, so this rule of thumb is an important one to follow. That’s unless, of course, you’re trying to do the European-standing-room-only café concept.

Once you’ve determined how much seating you want to comfortably provide, you can start to think about what else you want to include. A sales shelf next to the cash register? Separate pick-up and drop-off spaces? All of that will come after you plan the seating.

Keep the entrance zone separate from the interior space. The entrance zone is a potential customer’s first impression of your shop. This sets the curb appeal, but also the friendliness of the space when they first enter. Unless you can’t help it, you don’t want customers opening the front door and landing directly in front of your point of sale. Instead, you’ll want to give a bit more space; the customer will want to stand back, observe the menu, and take a look around before committing to a product.

The interior space begins a step or two inside the shop. This is where you’ll want to do most of the designing. Do you want to give your customer space to move around comfortably? How much space do you want between tables? This is where you’ll need to start answering those tough questions.

Figure out your point of sale and retail space. Starbucks has taught us that customers are likely to purchase small food items at the last minute, especially when they’re close to the point of sale. This is called point-of-purchase merchandising, and it’s a great way to up your retail revenue. That said, be aware of which items you want close to the cash register. The coffee bar and register are often the focal point in a coffee shop. You want to make sure the area is both appealing and functional. Put simply, don’t crowd the register with last-minute purchases if it there isn’t sufficient space.

If you’re selling larger items, like bags of coffee, brewing devices, mugs, and other accessories, you might want to keep this merchandise on a separate shelf. Providing a different space for retail will allow customers to spent time with the items to make thoughtful purchases. Plus, you’ll have a built-in wall decoration, additional counter space, and the ability to sell items instead of just foodstuffs.

Consider using a software. If you don’t want to leave your floor plan to chance, or if you like data-driven recommendations, consider investing in a store planning software. This type of product can help café owners optimize shelf space, utilize merchandising best practices, and help collaborate with other retailers and suppliers on larger projects. Store planning software will help shop owners identify the performance contribution for every inch of space in your coffee shop – no matter how tiny it may be. You’ll get actionable insights and recommendations to boost your sales and make the most of your space.

Planogram software can be especially important for coffee merchandisers and roasteries working with grocery stores; using sales data, you can help maximize sales in their coffee section. This will boost their sales for that category, which means they’ll likely want to increase stock orders from you. With a bit of data analysis, both you and your stockist can boost revenue.

The International Coffee Organization (ICO) has recently held a seminar on trends in new coffee consuming markets. The event identified relevant issues that will definitely shape the future of coffee consumption and possibly affect supply.

Please find below many surprising and interesting facts about fast expanding markets such as Korea, Russia, Vietnam, China and Colombia shared by professionals* directly involved with the coffee business, and Brazil, added by us, which provide a background for important discussions about the types and qualities of coffees to be demanded in the near future.

Korea
– The Korean coffee market, a US$ 3.7 billion business, is driven by three main trends: instant coffee (39% share), coffee shops (37%) and ready-to-drink coffee preparations (24%).
– Roasted coffee which used to represent only 5% of the total consumption represents 15%.
– Coffee culture is rapidly expanding among youngsters; there are already 16,000 coffee shops in the country, the vast majority owned by local brands and not part of chains or franchises.

Russia
– Coffee consumption in Russia grew 11% in the last 8 years.
– Consumption totals 3.6 million bags; per capita consumption is estimated to be 800 grams per year, with a lot of growth potential.
– Soluble coffee corresponds to 70% of the market, with massive preference for freeze dried products and “3 in 1” coffee mixes.
– Roast & ground coffee is still perceived as a gourmet product, and expensive for the majority of the Russian population.

China
– Consumption grows fast driven by soluble coffee and coffee shops.
– Soluble coffee responds for almost all coffee consumption at home.
– There were roughly 2,000 coffee outlets in China; today there are approximately 15,000 shops, between domestic and international chains.

Vietnam
– Economic development, an expanding middle class and a young population contribute to coffee consumption growth, specially of “3 in 1” instant coffee mixes.
– Although established local coffee chains like Trung Nguyen have strong presence, international chains opened many stores in Vietnam in recent years, including Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Gloria Jean’s and Starbucks (the latter opened its very first outlet in Ho Chi Minh City in February).

Colombia
– Domestic coffee consumption resumed growth greatly due to the efforts of Toma Café, a promotional program being implemented by a coalition of companies (based on strategic guidelines designed with the assistance of P&A).
– Consumption is consistently growing 1% per year.
– Although R&G is the choice for the majority of Colombians, soluble coffee continues to gain share.

Brazil
– Today the world’s second largest consuming country (over 20 million bags) and not a new market but consumption expands at emerging market rates of 3% per year.
– The market is vastly dominated by R&G and there is rapid growth of out-of-home consumption.
– Espresso is the fastest growing beverage due to its ubiquitous presence in neighborhood bakeries, coffee shops and offices.
– Single dose machines are aggressively entering the market and being adopted by the middle and upper classes.

The trends above – greater consumption of Robustas in soluble than Arabicas in coffee shops – show that there are fertile grounds for the expansion of the Robusta supply in the near future. However, a word of caution, these emerging markets still respond for a relatively small portion of global coffee demand and soluble coffee accounts for less than one sixth of world consumption. Nevertheless the tendency to consume more Robusta is compounded by its increasing participation in R&G blends in order to not increase coffee prices, especially in countries still affected by the economic crisis like the traditional markets of the US, EU and Japan. The growth of Brazilian consumption, today equally divided between Arabica and Robusta, also contributes to push the demand for Robusta coffee up.

A bright prospect for Robustas does not necessarily mean a bleak prospect for Arabicas. World consumption is expected to continue to grow at a solid rate of 2% per year or more and although Robusta demand may grow faster, the smaller growth of Arabicas will be on a larger base. Since Robustas replace primarily lower quality Arabicas, the supply scenario is set for now and the immediate future: a permanent search for quality in Arabicas and Robustas, in the former to guarantee its space and to conquer new consumers and in the latter to ensure that substitution can continue even after soluble consumers eventually migrate to R&G.