So Many Coffeehouse Plans, So Little Time

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There’s a lot of documentation involved in getting your coffee shop built out. Here’s what you need to know to get your coffeehouse plans right.


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Our recent post about coffeehouse design showed you all the things you’ll need to consider when planning the use of your space. But that may be the easy part. Ultimately you have to assure the dimensions of everything you bring into the space are spot-on, as well as making your electrical and plumbing plans crystal-clear and correct, so you can avoid myriad headaches: rejection of your plans by your local authority (city or county), equipment that doesn’t fit in the space allotted for it, or other design mistakes that can be expensive to address after the fact.


Your floor plan must outline dimensions for new partitions, doors, cabinets and fixtures. This will 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 formerly used for food service the code violations may be grandfathered it—but don’t count on it. Check with city or county. Some features that commonly need upgrades are sprinkler systems, stairways (making them less steep and/or adding a ramp), bathrooms (requiring ADA standards).


Electrical Plan

Your electrical plan will show the location and configuration of all outlets (horizontal or vertical), 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 should show locations for all water sources, drains, water heater, water filtration system (with specifics on whether it’s a full system, reverse osmosis, or single filter), grease interceptor (if needed), bathroom fixtures, etc.

Some of your equipment will also 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 will 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.
  • Countertops should be a minimum of 36” high and not the typical 42”—keeping in mind under-counter refrigeration heights.
  • Always allow a couple of inches beyond the dimensions of the equipment, so it can be easily inserted and removed.


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 inspectors reviewing your plans may want to see manufacturer specifications that prove your equipment complies with their standards.


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