Espresso Blog

So Many Coffeehouse Design Plans, So Little Time

by Julie Beals on July 19, 2016

An almost intimidating amount of documentation is involved in getting your coffee shop built out correctly. Here’s what you need to know.

Our recent post about coffeehouse design talked about everything you need to consider when mapping out the use of your space. But that's the easy part. Eventually, you have to make sure the dimensions of all furniture and equipment are correct, as well as making your electrical and plumbing plans perfectly clear, so you can avoid rejection of the plans by the city or county, equipment that doesn’t fit in the space allotted for it, or other design mistakes that will cost time and money to address after the fact.


Your floor plan needs to outline dimensions for new partitions, doors, cabinets and fixtures. This will, of course, assure that all equipment, furniture and fixtures end up where they should, and fit into the space.

You also need to account for existing features, some of which may not be up to code and will need to be fixed. If your space was used for food service in its past life, code violations may be grandfathered it—but don’t count on it. Features that commonly need upgrades are sprinkler systems, stairways (making them less steep and/or adding a ramp), bathrooms (to include ADA standards). 

Electrical Plan 

Your electrical plan will show the location and configuration of all outlets and details on voltage, amperage, phase, hertz and whether any power sources require a dedicated circuit.

A small, basic coffee shop might get away with a 200-amp service, but typically 400 amps will be required if you’ll be using an electric water heater, high-temperature dishwasher or cooking equipment.

You may also need to adjust existing electrical for:

  • Reconfigured lighting
  • HVAC
  • Signage – business sign, open/closed, exits
  • Speaker and TV wires
  • Cash register and receipt printer
  • CAT5 wiring and WiFi

Plumbing Plan 

Your plumbing plan must show locations for all water sources, drains, water heater, water filtration system (with details on whether it’s a full system, reverse osmosis, or single filter), grease interceptor (if needed), bathroom fixtures, etc.

Equipment that will need to be hooked up to a sink drain:

  • espresso machine
  • dipper wells
  • ice maker
  • soft drink dispenser

Keep in mind:

  • Many cities require a grease interceptor on the drain line from three-compartment sinks and automatic dishwashers, to keep grease from entering the public sewer system.
  • Most retail space does not come equipped with a water heater large enough to handle food-service needs.
  • Floor drains in the kitchen and behind the service counter will allow you to squeegee liquids away when spills occur, and when washing floors.
  • If you add new walls to the existing layout, you may need to have the fire sprinkler system reconfigured

Cabinets and Counters

For your cabinet maker to give you the most user-friendly storage spaces, be sure to let them know:

  • Leave room for water filters.
  • Which cabinets will need doors, and which ones should have drawers. Or get their advice on this.
  • Height of cabinets over any counters—to accommodate equipment that sits on the counters.
  • Open spaces that are needed in the counters to accommodate trash cans, knock boxes or cup dispensers. Check local codes to see if a sneeze guard is required.
  • Note: Home kitchen cabinets are typically 24 inches deep, but commercial cabinets should be 30 inches deep, or 33 inches if an under-counter refrigerator will be used.
  • Also make sure your counter tops are a minimum of 36” high and not the typical 42”—keeping in mind under-counter refrigeration heights.
  • And always allow a couple of inches beyond the dimensions of the equipment, so it can be easily inserted and removed.

Finally, the equipment itself

Make sure your equipment is up to standards set by your city or county. it will typically need to be NSF & UL approved, or have an equivalent foreign certification. The peole reviewing your plans may want to see manufacturer specifications that prove your equipment complies with their standards, before they approve your plans.



Topics: design, buildout

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