Coffee Shop Design Trends
Search ‘coffee shop’ on Instagram or Pinterest and you will discover an eclectic world of design trends. Where we buy and consume our coffee has become an important third place, not only in the U.S. but around the world. The first place is home. The second place is work. The third place is where we relax and find community, the anchors of our society. A recent study found millennials are spending more on coffee than they are saving for the future. No doubt this trend contributes to the growing number of coffee shops opening around the country. As a result, more time spent in the cherished third place.
Every day new people are turned on to the specialty coffee shop experience for the first time. However, it is not a new concept. Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul, is cited as the birthplace of the coffee house in 1555. Even then it was a social center where people, mostly men, would gather to drink coffee, converse, read and listen to music. Almost, 450 years later not much has changed. Well, the customers are more diverse, arguably the coffee is better and the design is as important as the espresso.
Coffee is Design-Driven
It is hard to pinpoint exactly when Specialty coffee shops became design-driven. There was always an emphasis on equipment, but with a minimalist build out. The focus was truly on the coffee. Then there was a pivot around 15 years ago when design took the wheel.
Simplicable defines design as ‘the practice of creating form, function, and experience.’ When coffee shop design adopted this approach a lot changed.
While the funky, bohemian, neighborhood coffee shop with old thrift store couches, bookshelves, magazines and chess boards still exists, it’s third wave specialty coffee cousin evolved and stepped up in a big way.
Coffee Shop Design
In the highly competitive coffee industry, the contemporary design concept rules. The couches have been replaced with stools and stone counters. The corner lamps, replaced by custom made light fixtures hung from high ceilings.
Books have been replaced by laptop computers plugged into a nearby receptacle. In fact, some coffee shops like Ritual Coffee in San Francisco have no receptacles in order to discourage the masses from using the third place as an office.
Open Space Design
Less is more in contemporary design, except when it comes to open space. The latest coffee shop design trends place an emphasis on layout design and incorporate the best use of space to create an open relaxed feel. How do you create a big open feel in a 1000 sq ft coffee shop? Seating around the edges leaves the center of the room open. Throw in high ceilings and suddenly 1000 sq ft feels like 2000 sq ft.
Optimizing seating space is crucial and specialty coffee shop design trends reflect it. The four top with one person seated with a laptop is a relic of the past. Counters with stools and the occasional two top can accommodate more bodies with less space.
The Counter as a Gathering Place
In the past, the counter was used for ordering only. Customers ordered, paid, and then likely sat down at a table with hardback chairs. Now, it is not uncommon to find the counter as an island at the center of the coffee shop experience. It resembles a bar where guests can take a seat, have a drink and watch the baristas do their thing.
Tile installations are very hot. The white subway tile backsplash behind the counter was just the beginning. Coffee shop design takes some very interesting directions with tiled walls, counters, and even floors. Creative use of tile size and shape creates a fun atmosphere. As we all spend more time in the third place, design plays a more crucial role.
Cars are the classic American status symbol. But in the specialty coffee world, the coffee equipment, particularly the espresso machine, communicates the status of the coffee shop. The coffee equipment on the counter plays a huge role in the design of the shop. Walk up to the counter at a new specialty coffee shop and the espresso machine is proudly displayed. Probably a shiny La Marzocco or Synesso machine which can range up to $20k+. That’s right, these machines are the luxury sports cars in the coffee shop world.
Baristas understand the importance of quality equipment. If a specialty coffee shop wants to attract and attain talented baristas the shop needs to be outfitted properly. This includes coffee and espresso grinders and brewers. It goes without saying that quality equipment produces a superior product, but also improves design aesthetic and workflow.
Although there are common themes among coffee shop design trends, ultimately the design should be functional, a response to people’s needs. At the coffee shop, there are three end users, the customer, the barista, and the owner. Design should take into consideration the needs of all users, solve problems and create a better experience.