Running Coffee Shops

Designing an Efficient Café Workflow: Key Considerations

When embarking on the journey of setting up a café or espresso bar, there are numerous factors to consider to ensure a seamless and efficient workflow. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the essential elements that go into designing a café with optimal functionality. From customer flow to equipment placement and space utilization, we'll cover all the critical aspects of creating a successful café layout.

1. Customer Flow: Navigating the Space

One of the foundational aspects of café design is considering how customers will navigate through the space. A well-thought-out customer flow not only enhances the overall experience but also contributes to efficient operations. Here are key points to keep in mind:

  • Entrance and Exit Placement
    Strategically position the entrance and exit doors to minimize customer congestion. This becomes especially crucial during peak hours and in high-traffic areas.
  • Separation of Paths
    Create a clear distinction between customers who are placing orders and those who are dining in. This separation ensures a smooth experience for everyone, even if patrons choose to enjoy their coffee on-site.
  • Efficiency Amid Dining Area
    If your café includes a dining area, ensure that it's designed to accommodate customers comfortably while allowing staff to serve efficiently. Consider the layout to prevent disruptions to the flow of orders and pickups.

2. Utilizing Space Efficiently

Effective space utilization is a hallmark of a well-designed café. Making the most of available space not only maximizes efficiency but also impacts the overall customer experience. Here's how to make it work:

  • Under-Bench Space
    Utilize the area beneath counters and benches for various purposes, such as storage or essential equipment like dishwashers or coffee grinders.
  • Bench Height
    Pay close attention to the height of your bench. A standard commercial fridge typically requires a benchtop height of around 850-860mm. Consider leaving extra space (about 900mm) to allow for plumbing and additional storage.
  • Landing Space
    Ensure you have ample landing space for serving coffee, especially when multiple orders are in progress. A 600mm-wide area can comfortably accommodate multiple cups and saucers.

3. Plumbing and Waste Management

Proper plumbing and waste management are often overlooked but are crucial for a well-functioning café. Addressing these aspects can help maintain hygiene and prevent issues. Here's what to focus on:

  • Plumbing
    Ensure your café has the necessary plumbing infrastructure, especially if you're serving coffee and other beverages. This includes water lines for your espresso machine, sinks, and dishwashers.
  • Waste Disposal
    Implement a systematic waste disposal system, including efficient drainage. Consider using a pump-out box to manage waste effectively and avoid blockages, especially if your café has a concrete floor.

4. Equipment Placement

The placement of coffee-making equipment is a critical consideration. It directly impacts the workflow of baristas and the efficiency of your café. Key points to remember include:

  • Coffee Machine Size
    Understand the dimensions of your coffee machine and allocate enough space for baristas to operate it effectively. A 3-meter bench can provide ample room for coffee-making operations.
  • Spacing Between Equipment
    Maintain adequate space (approximately 100mm) between each piece of equipment on your bench. This spacing ensures baristas can work comfortably and efficiently.
  • Jug Washer Position
    Position the jug washer within easy reach of baristas, allowing them to froth, pour, and clean without unnecessary stretching or movement.
  • Alternative Milk Accessibility:
    If you offer alternative milk options, ensure that they are easily accessible to the barista on the appropriate side of the bar.


Designing an efficient café workflow requires careful consideration of various elements, from customer flow to equipment placement and waste management. By addressing these key factors, you can create a café that not only operates smoothly but also provides an excellent experience for your customers. Whether you're planning to open a café or looking to optimize your current space, these principles can serve as a valuable guide to success.

Remember, every detail matters, and getting it right from the start will set the stage for a thriving café business. If you have any questions or need further assistance with café design, feel free to reach out to industry experts who can help you navigate the process successfully.

Download & join today

Join the World's #1 Specialty Coffee Community and TAKE YOUR COFFEE EXPERIENCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Latest from our blog
Our partners