Tips for considered cafe design from Best Cafe Designs

It’s clear that cafe design is crucial in shaping the customer experience and reinforcing the brand identity of your business. Thoughtful seating, appropriate lighting, and pleasing aesthetics create a welcoming atmosphere that encourages patrons to relax, enjoy their visit, tell their friends about it and come back again and again. But where should you begin […]

It’s clear that cafe design is crucial in shaping the customer experience and reinforcing the brand identity of your business. Thoughtful seating, appropriate lighting, and pleasing aesthetics create a welcoming atmosphere that encourages patrons to relax, enjoy their visit, tell their friends about it and come back again and again. But where should you begin when designing a cafe space? We chatted to Andrew Chung, architect and founder of Best Cafe Designs, to get his top tips on what’s important when it comes to designing cafe spaces.

Q. What are the initial key considerations when designing a cafe space?

Coffee machine placement

Where you place the coffee machine sends a message to your customers. Making the coffee machine a focal point draws attention to the barista’s craft and invites customers to take part by watching the process of their coffee being made, as well as giving them a chance to have a conversation with the barista. Practically, it also makes for a quick takeaway service. 

Customer flow and equipment placement

You’ll want to think about the kind of flow you want in your cafe and then logically place equipment and stations to support that. It’s good practice to position the cash register near the entrance to expedite ordering, and ensure the person taking orders can assist in coffee delivery to optimise service speed.

Clean and dirty dishwashing separation

Maintaining hygiene is critical in any kind of cafe or restaurant space, and this means you’ll want to ensure your areas for clean and dirty equipment are separate to prevent cross-contamination. This is especially important in cafes with full food service, as it also helps keep dirty dishware out of customer sight.

Lighting

Spend a good amount of time planning your lighting design and placement. Lighting plays both a practical and design role within a cafe space. It helps to highlight key areas of the cafe, including the counter and coffee machine and allows you to showcase featured items. You also want to make sure your customers can see what they’re eating and drinking! Clever lighting design can create a visually appealing focal point that draws customers in.

Best cafe designs

Lighting at Lakeside cafe

Seating arrangements

You want to make sure your seating is comfortable for your customers. Make sure tables sit at the right height and are level with the floor. Consider space utilisation depending on the layout of your space, proximity to windows, and seating types to enhance the customer experience.

Greenery and natural elements

Introducing greenery can add a lot to the design of a space, and can make a cafe feel more comfortable and homey. Well-placed plants improve air quality, bring a calming vibe and contribute to a relaxed atmosphere.

Noise management

There’s nothing worse than sitting in a cafe and not being able to hear a thing. Consider the acoustics of your space and if there are challenges with the natural acoustics, plan how you can enhance them with furnishings or finishes. Balance ambient noise with sound-absorbing materials and thoughtful layout design to create a lively yet comfortable space.

Sustainability

Ensure your space is as environmentally friendly as you can. Use energy-efficient appliances, eco-friendly or upcycled materials, and waste reduction strategies, including selecting sustainable packaging options, to create an environmentally conscious cafe space.

Q. Should you hire an interior designer or architect?

Deciding whether to hire a professional depends on the project’s scale and complexity. For significant renovations or new builds, involving a designer or architect is advisable. They bring expertise in spatial planning, layout optimisation, and compliance with safety standards. While it adds to project costs, their involvement can reduce costs in the long run by optimising space, reducing errors, and making informed decisions about materials.

Q. What’s the best cafe design you’ve seen?

Urata Lookout Cafe, Fiji

Urata Lookout Cafe is noteworthy for its integration into the landscape and use of local materials. Located in Fiji, this cafe seamlessly merges with its natural surroundings. The use of indigenous materials not only enhances the cafe’s aesthetic appeal but also reflects a commitment to sustainability and local craftsmanship. The cafe’s design highlights the importance of contextually responsive architecture that respects and celebrates the local environment, making it a standout example of eco-conscious design.

About Best Cafe Designs

Best Cafe Designs is a leading design publication and directory for cafes and cafe professionals. Founded by Andrew Chung, an architect who started photographing cafes in Sydney CBD, it has grown into an international collaboration of over 40 architects, photographers, and writers. Ranked among the top 100 architecture websites globally, Best Cafe Designs aims to feature cafe designs in 1,000 cities.

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