Why a Cafe Needs More Than Exceptional Coffee
Don’t let the title mislead you; exceptional coffee is absolutely a must for a successful cafe. Competition is stiff, and it seems everyone wants a slice of the caffeine obsession, so if you really want to give yourself the edge, you have to look beyond your brew. The experience is what matters, how it is delivered and how that experience extends beyond the doors and into the community. To that effect, there are a few things to look at to deliver the best experience you can.
Let’s start where things get a little tricky. You can’t afford to micromanage a cafe space. You risk burning yourself out, as well as alienating staff and customers. You need to create a system that will work independently from you to extend the experience that you have created to the community abroad.
One way to influence this is to focus on your hospitality supplies. Designs on take-away cups, bags and trays can quickly be linked directly to you cafe. Once people leave, cup in hand, they become walking billboards for your business, so you need to make the right statement.
Key words here are consistency, flair, style. Most importantly, the space you create needs to make sense with the service you are delivering. Signage is only the smallest portion of this; a “Please Wait to Be Seated” sign will only get you so far. Gardeners use tiling or trenched lines to separate garden beds from lawn that can be walked on. Landscapers use fencing and pavers. The cafe space can use table placement, planter boxes, and even lighting to create the walking, waiting and seating spaces.
Consider a few focus pieces for the space. Additions such as murals, ferns, and display windows all work towards creating something more than just a place to eat and have a coffee. In fact, the design of a space has been shown to affect mood and overall mental health of the people within it.
Music, amounts of light, sound levels, colour schemes. Every choice you make adds to the indefinable sense that your cafe is the place that people want to be, and you want to appeal to as many kinds of people as you can, without compromising on the consistency you are striving for. For example, clever placement of speakers can create quiet spaces for people who would prefer to sit in quiet conversation almost subconsciously in your patrons.
Colour affects the mood of the space as well. Cafes with a single definable space may need to choose a single colour palette. However, if your cafe has more spaces, or you are able to design it so as it appears to have more spaces, you can mix this up a bit. Combining a quiet area as previously mentioned, with a more relaxed colour will emphasise that feeling.
Honestly speaking, the factors influencing the success of a cafe are so broad and varied that it becomes impossible to cover them all. On top of amazing coffee, a cafe needs to be consistent in design and intuitive in function. It creates a sense of welcome, but also a place to get away from the bustle outside. But first and foremost, it makes people want to be there, and to share the experience with others; extending its influence into the wider community and bringing back regulars and new patrons.
The key, it seems, is to modulate, not manipulate. Create a space that encourages the desired interaction, rather than trying to force a mood or perception on to people the moment they walk through the door. A good cafe is a precious thing, but definitely attainable.