Skip to main content

Coffee Shop Design

I've been spending a lot of time in coffee shops lately, and have noticed that there are some common issues that keep many of them from being more efficient. In other words, if I ever became enough of an aspiring entrepreneur to build my own coffee shop, here are a few ideas I would try to implement.

(from Flickr user 1Flatworld)

A lot of coffee shops have large tables, which often go underutilized. True, there are groups who visit coffee shops to chat, or have a meeting, or just hang out; but there are also many solo customers who come into the coffee shop to read or write some blogs. When there are large tables, solo customers will sit at them, rendering the other seats unused. Sure, another solo customer could sit at one of the empty seats, but in my experience, this only occurs when there are no more empty tables.

What's the solution? More small tables and a bar. Think about it, when a solo customer walks into the neighborhood tavern, he/she doesn't sit at a a big table by themself to drink beer, they sit at the bar. My ideal coffee bar would have a large bar along one wall and an outlet for every stool, so people don't have to fight over power or make some stools more valuable than others. Since there really doesn't need to be a bartender, the bar could face right up against the wall, preserving space for tables in the rest of the shop.

Speaking of outlets and wifi, my coffee shop would have outlets at every stool and table and free wifi. I've written about coffee shop squatters and my opinion is that they don't do the harm that people often accuse them of. Nevertheless, I understand the concern. I don't think removing outlets or charging extra for wifi is the solution, as such moves risk alienating good customers in order to crack down on abusive customers. Instead, I think the answer is a little libertarian paternalism.

I would hire a programmer to build an internet landing page, similar to those that exist for wifi in hotels. When the customer opens his/her browser, the first thing they would see is a full menu, the day's specials, the shop's twitter feed, etc. To connect to the internet, the customer would simply have to click "connect". After an hour or so, a message would appear - it would thank the customer for his/her business, and remind them that table space is valuable, and ask them to make another purchase if they plan to stay for a while. Basically, it would "nudge" customers to follow coffee shop ethics.

There's not much I like more than a great coffee shop.


Wade said…
Great ideas, my favorite Starbucks on DuPont Circle in DC has a bar up against the window. You can sit and look out. It's neat. Can't remember if it has outlets at each stool.

Last night we went to a Starbucks here in Malaysia. They were out of COFFEE!

I think there's an untapped market here.

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Commuting Meets Technology

I'm finally out of the dark ages. I got an Android smartphone over the weekend and have since been in the process of exploring the Android apps market.  One thing I've immediately noticed is the really wide range of usefulness in the apps. For example, the WeatherBug app is fantastic. It automatically determines your location and gives you exact conditions for that location. On the other end of the spectrum, Google's Goggles app is supposed to be a type of 'visual search' where you snap of photo of something and Google searches for it. In each of my attempts to use it, the app hasn't returned any search results. I even took a photo of a bottle of Pepsi (figuring it as a common houseful item) and got nothing.

Somewhere in the middle is this app called Waze. Have a look at their 'guided tour':

Some people might look at it and comment on the amazing evolution of technology or on the incredible value of social networks. To me, Waze says something important ab…