The Coffee Shop Purchasing Guide

Make smart decisions when purchasing equipment for your Coffee Shop. Learn about the equipment you will need, typical costs, and where are the best places to buy it.

Required Equipment and Materials

Most coffee shop owners will need the following equipment to get started

  • Industrial fridges ($500 - 1000 each)
  • Espresso Machine ($2000 - $20,000 each)
  • Espresso Grinder($1000 - $15000)
  • Smoothie blender ($50 - $200)
  • Iced Tea Dispenser ($50 - $100)
  • Pre-roasted Coffee ($8 per pound)
  • Shelving Units ($30 - $100 each)
  • Undercounter Ice Machine ($1000 - $3000)
  • Bakery Display Case ($20 - $100)
  • Measuring units ($50 - $70)
  • Disposable cup sets ($15 - $40)
  • Other utensils ($10 - $50)
  • Cleaning supplies ($40 - $60)
  • Coffee Shop POS System ($0-$99/month)

Coffee shop owners will vary their menus and build them differently based on the atmosphere they are trying to create in their shop. Be sure to include inventory when accounting for costs. Teas, pastries, coffee mugs, and other related goods may also be good to include in the shop.

Sample List of Purchases

A typical person looking to purchase equipment for a coffee shop might make the following purchases:

  Grand Total: $10,646 

Key Decisions

Picking the right espresso machine is arguably the most important buying decision you’ll make when starting a coffee shop. We outline the key considerations you’ll need to keep in mind when making this purchase and provide some popular options.

Considerations When Buying an Espresso Machine

Estimate the Traffic to Your Coffee Shop

Consider the location and traffic of your coffee shop; will there be morning rushes, where your workers will have to serve nearly one hundred customers in the early hours? If so, you will need an espresso machine with high capacity and less human operations to keep the flow and line moving. You will need to make sure your machine has the capacity to serve your customer base, and choose the right size.

Keeping Consistency Across Your Drinks

If you are going to have a large menu selection, the less human discretion associated with your espresso machine, the better.  It is important to always keep your drinks’ tastes and formulas as consistent as possible.

Consider How Much Training to Provide to Employees

Will most of your employees be part-timers and students, and how much would you like to afford in training them? It is important to keep in mind that training baristas is a big part of opening coffee shop. If most of your workers will only be around for short time, in areas such as school campuses, it is perhaps best to pick espresso machine that is easy to operate and reduce training efforts.  

Espresso Machine Options

Manual Espresso Machines 

Manual espresso machines are rarer these days, but they’re great for those looking for a low maintenance machine that is easy to repair. The espresso machine gives the operator the most control; it is great for seasoned baristas who are looking to create unique flavors out of the coffee grounds.  

However, for high traffic location coffee shop owners, this will not be the ideal machine of choice. Additionally, for coffee shops that plan to hire untrained baristas and expect a high turnover rate, the manual espresso machine wouldn’t be the best option, since it requires a lot of training to use.

Semi-automatic Espresso Machines 

The semiautomatic machine requires the barista to manually start and stop the pour. This is great for shop owners on a budget, as they’re cheaper alternatives to fully automatic machines.  

The downside is that training will be more intensive for these machines, as baristas will need to multi-task to work the machine at the same time that they steam milk or add flavor syrups. Additionally, it may be more difficult to keep consistency across drinks because temperature stability is not as precise.  

Automatic espresso machines 

Automatic machines are a great start for new coffee shop owners with little experience; the hands-on options are easy to use with pre-set amounts of espresso.  

If you have a wide range of variety in drinks and want to keep a neat consistency from cup to cup, the automatic espresso machine is a great choice. It is also great for customization in drinks, with its machine-operated board to cater to diverse tastes of customers. For coffee shop owners, this is important since the ability to please picky customers offers an advantage over larger chain stores.  

However, the automatic espresso machine is more expensive than the manual or semi-automatic option.

Superautomatic espresso machines

The superautomatic’s name implies its function: it does every part of the process, from grinding, packing, and brewing to finally ejecting the grounds into a built-in dump box. These are amazing options for coffee shops that wish to offer employees minimum training and expect high turnover rates.  

This option saves time and may allow you to cut down on employee costs while still producing high-quality drinks. However, it is the most expensive option, with complicated internal processes that require lots of research before making a final purchase. Maintenance and repairs may also be difficult and costly with the superautomatic machine.

Best Places to Buy

Most coffee shops don’t need more than one or two good espresso machines. Thus, retailers are the usual choice for purchasing espresso machines. Learning the specs of the individual brands and models and finding which one will suit your shop is important. There are also plenty of reviews online to help you make your final decision.

Here is a list of popular coffee shop equipment retailers that sell espresso machines. More detailed descriptions of each brand’s different models can be found on their respective websites.

Seattle Coffee Gear

A common and popular retailer destination for commercial grade coffee shop goods, Seattle Coffee Gear offers great selection of popular espresso machines. They offer brands from Rancilio, Nuova, and La Marzocco.  

WholeLatteLove

Another popular destination for good selection of espresso machines, WholeLatteLove also offers La Marzocco, as well as Dalla Corte, Rio Vania, Franke and other smaller brands. The price range variance is around the same as selection offered by Seattle Coffee Gear.

Webrestaurantstores

Webrestaurantstores offer less range of selections, but a cheaper brand called Cecilware for coffee shop owners who are on a budget. This is also a great place to buy other equipment, such as fridges, ice machines, and miscellaneous things for the shop.

Recommended: Read our full, in-depth How to Start a Coffee Shop Business guides, inspired by coffee professionals, they will help make your coffee dreams real, from sourcing beans to hiring baristas, forming an actual company, and everything in between.