April 5th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

Why are most coffee shop design plans so poor?

Nearly every coffee shop I enter in the world has a few fundamental design flaws. Most coffee shops have figured out the comfortable chairs, free wifi, and tables. However, most still have not mastered the space efficient laptop work environment. I think the best coffee shop layout are the ones that cater to laptop users. When you’re designing a coffee shop you must consider the different users (personas) and then correlate the user type to potential revenue per user type. When I think about coffee shops, I think of the following user types and average revenue per visit (not empirically constructed and likely wrong):

  • In and Out – person who comes in just to order coffee and maybe food to go. (ARPV: $4)
  • Worker Bees – person who generally spend 3-4 hours in a coffee shop working. (ARPV: $15)
  • Readers – person who spend an 1 to 2 hours reading and enjoying a coffee and maybe a roll. (ARPV: $7)
  • Eaters – person who spend an hour having breakfast or lunch with a friend or by him or herself. (APRV: $10)
  • Socializers – person who comes in with a group of friends to chat over a nice latte. (APRV: $3).

I think the design at the Grove in the Marina in San Francisco masters an environment for most of the users, save maybe the In and Out crowd. I think one still may need to pay for reliable wifi at the Grove, which is silly.

The layout works well for the coffee shop as second office worker bee crowd, the readers as well as the socializers. Most companies have figured out the latter two, but this Grove location has identified the requirements of the worker-bee. First, worker-bees use laptops and therefore need easy-to-reach power sources. Second, worker-bees need some semblance of privacy. This means that worker-bees shouldn’t be forced to share his or her laptop screen with every passer-by. Third, worker-bees need coffee. Thus, the counter must be in constant sight of one’s laptop. Or, better yet, there should be a staff member who occasionally comes around and asks people if they need something else. (i.e., make sure you’re upping the APRV). Fourth, include decent direct workspace lighting.

Here’s a sample layout that every coffee shop in the world should include (that is if it wants to attract the higher ARPV customer):

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