Have you wanted to open a coffee shop or coffee kiosk for a while but haven't dared to take the plunge yet? Good news: in this article, we will guide you through each of the steps to take to make your business creation project a reality.

#1. Carry out a market study to open a café

The first step in opening a café is to develop a market study to validate the existence of a business opportunity in the location.

To do this, you will need to:

  • Analyze the evolution of the sector: growth, current and future trends, competitive intensity
  • Study the needs and expectations of consumers: who frequent the cafes? On what occasions? How often? What is the average budget? What are the expectations regarding products (coffees, teas, pastries, etc.) and services (free wifi, on-site or take-away sales, etc.)?
  • Analyze your competitors at the local level: how many are there? Where are they located? What do they offer? At what price? Do their businesses seem to be doing well? Are their terraces empty or full?

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#2. Focus on the retail coffee market

Coffee consumption

It is estimated that the consumption of coffee in the world has doubled in 20 years.

According to the ICO, the International Coffee Organization, world consumption was still rising in 2015. There are indeed 152.1 million bags (of 60kg) against 150.3 million in 2014. The increase is, therefore, modest. But notable.

The director of the OIC optimistically affirms an increase of 25 million bags for the next ten years.

But, the increased consumption of coffee in the world and particularly in France, does it benefit businesses?

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Coffee in a few figures

A café is an establishment in which drinks, alcoholic or not, are sold to consume on the spot or take away.

In 2009, the overall turnover of coffee shops and drinking establishments was estimated at 6.7 billion euros.

In addition, there were close to:

  • 40,000 coffees.
  • 30,000 drinking establishments.
  • 10,000 coffee-tobacco.
  • 2,000 creations per year.

Knowing that there were nearly 200,000 cafes in 1960, it is clear that the coffee market is declining.

The most profitable trends

Small neighbourhood cafes come up against the installation of coffee shops. According to the Euromonitor International study, there are :

  • 100 operators in France.
  • 38.2 million euros in turnover
  • Growth of 200% in five years.

On the other hand, the trend is for take-out. Indeed, the French are changing their little habits!

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Coffee regulations

Be careful, if you want to create a café, know that this type of business is strictly supervised.

Especially if you want to sell alcoholic drinks, you will need to obtain a license in this case. To do this, you will be required to follow specific training, obtain an operating permit and make an opening declaration. On the other hand, make sure that the area is not protected by prefectural decree. It is forbidden to open a café (for the sale of third-category drinks) near certain places: hospital, retirement home, stadium, swimming pool, etc.

If you want to sell non-alcoholic drinks, such as setting up a coffee shop, the regulations are a bit more flexible. You will nevertheless have to comply with, among other things, the rules on price display and respect the safety standards applicable to establishments open to the public.

#3. Open a franchise cafe?

Market research is also an opportunity to reflect on the concept of your coffee. As such, you will have to look in particular at the question of the franchise.

Is it advantageous to be a franchisee?

The answer is undoubted yes. Indeed, between the immediate notoriety of the brand, the prices negotiated with suppliers by the network's purchasing centre, support throughout your project, and the proven commercial strategy proposed by the brand to undertake to franchise dramatically limits the risk of the project.

In addition, you can take advantage of the current trend in coffee shops, for example, by becoming a Starbucks franchisee. If this option interests you, however, note that you will have to pay 35,000 euros in entrance fees, in addition to the annual fee. Finally, a personal contribution of 300,000 euros is requested.

If you prefer to keep total autonomy, why not have a coffee again? You will thus keep the clientele of the previous owner.

#4. Where to open a cafe?

The location of your café will be decisive for the profitability of your project.

You have two options here:

  • Choose a room in the city centre: you will then benefit from high visibility and high traffic. At the cost of high rent and high competition,
  • Choose an out-of-the-way room: you will then target a neighbourhood clientele, office workers or residents of the surrounding area. Conversely, you will benefit from rent and a lower level of competition than in the city centre.

To help you make your decision, we recommend here that you rely on the results of your market research.

#5. The choice of the legal form of your coffee

Once the premises have been found, it is essential to think about the legal status of your future business.

The choice of your status will have significant consequences at the level: financial, fiscal and legal.

First of all, ask yourself if you want to start a cafe on your own or with associates? In the first case, a sole proprietorship (EI) and sole proprietorship with limited liability (EURL) may be good options.

If you are more than one partner, find out about the LLC, a limited liability company.

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#6. The means necessary to open a café

Material means

The initial investments to open a coffee shop or a traditional café are pretty significant, and you will have to plan in particular:

  • Renovation or development work for the premises
  • Furniture: tables, chairs, counters, possibly furniture for the terrace
  • Equipment: percolators, dishes, dishwasher, cash register, payment terminal, etc.
  • Marketing investments: brand, website, etc.
  • From stock: coffee, teas, napkins, cardboard cups, food products, etc.

Human resources

On the staffing side, the number of employees will depend heavily on the size of your café.

You will mainly need waiters in the room and at the counter. These will eventually need to have completed barista training if you are opening a coffee shop. Choose experienced staff here who benefit from good customer contact.

You will also need staff for the management and marketing part. Do not underestimate the work to be done at this level: management of schedules, payroll, accounting, stocks, your communication. The tasks to be performed are numerous. If necessary, consider delegating part of it to an accountant or a marketing agency, for example.

#7. The marketing plan to open a café

Last step before creating your coffee business plan: the marketing plan.

Your goal? Promote your coffee and build customer loyalty.

The location of your business will play a decisive role here. However, even if your place is bustling, you shouldn't settle for it.

To promote your establishment, you can consider the following actions:

  • Create a showcase website and perform natural and paid to reference
  • Communicate on social networks to develop a community
  • Set up a loyalty program: a free coffee after 10 orders, for example
  • Communicate in local media: newspapers or radio
  • Get listed in specialized directories (paper and on the internet)
  • Invite bloggers on the topic of outing ideas to write about you

To help you prioritize actions: consider assessing the amount of work required, the potential impact, and the cost associated with each initiative.

#8. Realize the business plan of a café

Once your marketing plan has been developed, you can now realize your coffee business plan.

The business plan of a café consists of two parts: a written part used to present the project in detail and a financial plan highlighting the potential for profitability.

The business plan will help you check that you haven't forgotten anything in setting up the project and that it is financially viable, but above all, it will serve you to convince your financial partners.

#9. Obtain funding to open a café

With your coffee kiosk business plan in hand, it's time to start looking for financing.

Several options are available to you here, and you can see in particular:

  • Trying to obtain bank financing, however, be aware that obtaining a loan for business creation is not always easy
  • Approach private investors: your relatives or business angels
  • Start a crowdfunding campaign, which is also an excellent way to get people talking about you
  • Seek to obtain financial assistance: subsidy, charge relief, or tax credit