Design Elements That Can Create Loyal Customers for Your Cafe

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It’s no secret that Americans love their coffee. The National Coffee Association says that in 2018, 64 percent of Americans drank at least a cup of joe every day. Currently, there are more than 33,000 coffee shops in the U.S. and according to market intelligence agency Mintel, coffeehouse market sales will reach $27.8 billion by 2021.

These numbers point to the fact that coffee is good business. With the oversaturated market and big, accomplished competitors such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, though, it can be a struggle to keep your customers coming back to you.

So, what can you do? Apart from giving them great pick-me-up beverages and service, their experience inside your shop matters, too. The importance of design in your coffee shop impacts everything from the package of the coffee displayed on your shelves to the art hanging from your walls and the presentation of your menu.

Below are some of the most important design elements that contribute to the overall experience of your customers. These are what you should pay attention to so you can keep java junkies coming back to your shop.


Think about what you want your coffee shop to be. Is it going to be a place where friends gather to catch up over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake? Is it somewhere students and young professionals bring their laptops to and work on their projects with your coffee keeping them awake and alert?

Your café’s space should mimic its purpose. If you want your shop to attract the laidback crowd, make your space comfortable and cozy with couches and padded chairs. If your main market is business people rushing to make their appointments, make your space easy to get in and out of.


The lighting in any space sets the mood and the function. Are your customers looking for well-lit spaces to read or study by or are they looking for a cozier setting to hang out with friends?

Different lighting elicits different moods. For example, bright light can heighten people’s emotions, natural light can make people happier, and softer, dim lighting makes people eat slower.


Cafe coffee mug

Sunshine leaves people more upbeat and positive and this is what windows help to achieve. The added view outside also gives your customers a way to lose themselves people-watching.

Apart from that, floor-to-ceiling windows in lieu of a concrete wall give you a creative space to advertise. You can use white chalk markers to put inviting and quirky designs or the daily special blend on your glass walls to invite more customers in.


What’s a coffee shop without the smell of coffee? While it’s important to keep your shop clean, you don’t have to leave it with an antiseptic smell. Don’t use overpowering air fresheners either.

Your customers most likely love the smell of brewing coffee and freshly prepared pastries. Keep those smells wafting over to your customers or even carrying outside. Chances are, people won’t be able to resist but come to your café again and again to enjoy the aroma of coffee.

Basically, these design elements have one recurring theme: cater to your customers. It’s important to remember that coffee shops aren’t simply places where you drink coffee, but places that people escape to and socialize or conduct business in. That’s why you have to learn what your customers are looking for and give it to them through design.

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