The Coffee Experience: Design and Decor

Long before you open your doors to the public, you are going to have to design your space.  There are so many things to consider with this component that we will have to break this chapter down into many sub-categories.  Many of these topics have been more thoroughly explained in café design books, but we will touch on which aspects we chose to implement and why.

Again, this chapter is most useful after the café identity and personality have been chosen.  In order to make the flow seem natural and cohesive you must have a clear and decided idea of the branding direction you are taking.  In our case, we chose to use a semi-industrial design. 

We are micro-roasters based in a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio.  With the history of Youngstown’s industrial steel production in mind, coupled with the beauty of our industrial Diedrich IR-12 roaster, we decided to place our roaster in the front window.  The placement of the roaster was twofold.  First, it allowed us to proudly present our identity to the world.  Yes, we micro roast our own coffee.  Second, with a 100% American built roaster in the window, it pays tribute to the hard working Americans that made this city.  It is who we are, and it tips the hat to those who came before us.

We were careful not to overdo the industrial feel, however.  If the décor is too cold, it may subconsciously be unwelcoming or unfriendly.  We used darker wood to line the walls, front of counters, and bar seating area.  Our chairs and tables are also matching wood, as are our shelves and bench seats.  This helps to strike the balance between industry and homeliness.

We also decided against having LED or neon blinking signs in the window to announce that we were open.  These distracted away from the premium feel that we designed, and we feel that it would have cheapened our product.  There are some great ways to tackle this problem, such as marquee style signs (NOT neon or led colors).  We instead chose frosted-glass looking vinyl lettering on the window.

The challenge to creating a new café, or redesigning an existing café is to find a new identity and to create a feel that works with it.  It should be different than other coffee shops in the area, but don’t be afraid to include design ideas that work in other spaces. 

Consider incorporating the help of a design specialist or a friend/family member who has an eye for creating comfortable spaces.  This will become your storefront’s personality, and it should be one that really makes it unique and interesting.