What equipment and supplies do coffee shops and tea shops need?

As you open your new coffee or tea shop or work to resupply an existing store, keeping track of all the possible equipment and supplies you need is difficult. We've broken down the most popular equipment and supplies into broad categories to help you keep track of what you might need.

What Coffee, Tea, Beverage, and Espresso Brewing Equipment should coffee shops have?

Businesses of all shapes and sizes use coffee machines. The local hardware store may hand out a cup of joe, and the break room of a busy office may need more than one pot coffee maker to keep everyone caffeinated.

In the food industry, coffee shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors, and bakeries often serve coffee.

Depending on how much and what type of hot beverages like coffee, espresso, and tea you serve, you'll need the right equipment to make enough of it fast enough for your customers.

  • Coffee brewers - For locations that serve only a little coffee or have a specific roast that requires less volume, pour-over brewers and automatic brewers are a great solution. Automatic brewers are plumbed into your water supply, while pour-over coffee brewers need water poured into them to start the brewing process. Extra burners, either built-in or standalone, allow you to increase the number of coffee pots you have warming. If you're going through a large amount of coffee in a short period of time, a coffee urn can provide you with a large capacity. Remember that using an electric element to keep coffee hot for longer than 30 minutes can cause the quality to decrease quickly and become bitter. If you need to keep coffee warm for greater periods, airpots are a great solution.
  • Airpots - Insulated airpots allow you to brew large amounts of coffee and keep it warm longer than you can with coffee decanters. Airpot brewers pour freshly brewed coffee into your airpots, enabling you to move them to a service line so employees can easily access them while another airpot brews. Airpots also give you a great way to set up self-serve coffee stations in your business. The coffee stays better longer, and there's less chance of spilled or dropped glass decanters.
  • Espresso Machines - Making popular espresso-based drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas, requires an espresso machine. Make sure you have one that can handle the volume of orders your business has.
  • Blender - If your coffee or tea shop makes frappes or smoothies, you'll need a blender. Models with sound enclosures won't disrupt your customers. Look at features like the Blendtec Stealth 895 NBS 2.0's ability to blend drink directly into the customer's cup. Granita machines are perfect if you sell lots of certain iced or frozen drinks. Dedicated cold brew coffee brewing and dispensers are available too. A commercial ice maker is another important piece of equipment for iced beverages.
  • Iced tea brewers and iced tea dispensers - If your tea or coffee shop or restaurant sells a lot of iced tea, having a dedicated iced tea brewer is a good investment. Some stainless steel dispensers come with brew-through lids, allowing the brewer to pour tea directly into the dispenser. Other dispensers are designed for display and to keep the tea cold.
  • Hot water dispensers - A standalone hot water dispenser can be used to clean other brewers and to make hot tea and other drinks. If you have a self-serve drinks station putting a hot water dispenser there allows your customer to select the amount of water they want to steep their tea. Behind the counter, many automatic coffee makers have built-in hot water dispensers, but having a separate hot water dispenser in your busy coffee shop will be faster for your employees and customers.

Other equipment you should consider purchasing includes coffee grinders, espresso grinders (they grind the beans finer than a regular grinder), coffee roasters, knock boxes, espresso tampers, tea ball infusers, and thermometers.

Barista using steaming pitcher to pour cream into cappuccino in coffeeshop or cafe.Barista using steaming pitcher to pour cream into cappuccino in coffeeshop or cafe.

What tools and supplies should baristas at coffee and tea shops have?

You'll need more than a coffee maker for most drinks at your coffee shop. Your menu will determine the particular supplies you'll need, but we've listed some of the most common:

  • Frothing pitchers/Steaming pitchers - These spouted pitchers are used when making lattes, cappuccinos, and other specialty drinks that use milk foamed with the steam from your espresso maker.
  • Measuring cups and spoons - Having the right amount of each ingredient in your drinks is important for consistent customer experiences and inventory purposes. Using measuring spoons and cups will make consistent portioning easier.
  • Portion scales - Like measuring cups and spoons, having a scale in your coffee shop will help make sure you're using the right amount of ingredients. If you plan to sell coffee beans or pre-ground beans, having a scale will keep your bags weighing the same.
  • Syrup pumps - Make it easier for your employees to add precise amounts of syrups and toppings to drinks with syrup pumps.
  • Coffee filters - No matter what type of coffee brewer you get, you'll need coffee filters to prevent the grounds from getting into the final product.

What tabletop items should coffee shops have for customers?

The small things are the easiest to overlook when starting a new business. You'll need ways to serve drinks and food and give customers a way to adjust their drinks at your new coffee shop.

  • Sugar pourers - Keep sugar pourers at the counter, on tables, or at a central station with items like napkins, straws, creamer, and artificial sweetener packets.
  • Creamers - Much like having sugar pourers in easily accessible places, having fresh creamer in pourers ready for your coffee and tea customers is an excellent addition to your shop.
  • Coffee mugs, espresso cups, and tea cups - Having glass, porcelain, and ceramic mugs and cups for customers drinking their beverages in your shop creates an inviting atmosphere that encourages repeat business.
  • Coffee stirrers and straws - Once customers have added sugar or cream to their coffee, they'll need stirrers and straws to mix their drinks.
A person pours coffee for themself from a coffee urn.A person pours coffee for themself from a coffee urn.

What Equipment and Supplies do Coffee and Tea Shops need to make food?

Many coffee and tea shops offer their customers something to eat, even if it's prepackaged food made offsite. If you plan to make or reheat food in your store or partner with a local bakery to provide food, you'll need equipment to get it ready and display it.

Male customer shopping at local coffee shop bakery display.Male customer shopping at local coffee shop bakery display.
  • Wire shelving - Not all of your ingredients will need refrigeration; those can be stored on wire shelving units. If you have a walk-in cooler or freezer, you'll need wire shelves to keep everything organized and off the floor.
  • Dishwasher - You'll create many dirty dishes as you make drinks at your coffee shop. Having a commercial-grade dishwasher is a great help. Having an undercounter 3-compartment sink is an excellent solution for a faster turnaround on frequently used items.

What type of Furniture Should Coffee Shops and Tea Shops Have?

Creating a comfortable and inviting space for your customers is vital to getting repeat customers. Many customers who drink their coffee or tea inside the shop stay for hours. Having comfortable seating will make them more likely to stay and order multiple drinks. Think about the following types of restaurant furniture and how they can work in your space:

  • Coffee shop tables - The first decision you'll need to make when buying tables for your coffee shop is their height. Restaurant-style tables come in two heights: dining height and bar height. Dining-height tables work for booths and chairs. Bar-height tables require bar stools and can also be used for standing customers.
  • Seating for coffee shops - Once you've decided on the height and style of your coffee or tea shop's tables, you can use that information to help you select the kind of chair or bar stool you want. The key is finding comfortable, durable furniture that will make your coffee shop a place where people want to be.
  • Coffee shop patio furniture - If you have room for outside seating, look for durable furniture that complements your interior decor.
Popular modern coffee shop busy with customers and staff.Popular modern coffee shop busy with customers and staff.