Type above and press Enter to search. Press Esc to cancel.


10-step guide: what cafe equipment & supplies do you need?

10-step guide: what cafe equipment & supplies do you need?

Opening your first and very own cafe unleashes intense (and conflicting) emotions – excitement with traces of uncertainty, adrenaline paired with nerves, and that tenacious drive to make it to the finish line. It’s an endeavour of passion and aspiration pierced with moments of logistics, finances, and decisions.

Deciding on cafe equipment & cafe supplies

Amongst the various decisions you’ll have to make when opening a cafe, equipment and supplies sit on the costly tier of important decisions – right next to rent and wages.

To help navigate the world of cafe equipment and supplies, and to keep costs down, we’ve narrowed down 10 areas you should explore as a starting point and questions you should ask to shape your ultimate decisions. 

  1. Concept and menu
  2. Barista tools and kitchen equipment
  3. Space capacity of your venue
  4. Storage
  5. Customer orders
  6. Payment methods for your cafe
  7. Health, safety and security equipment
  8. Financing your equipment
  9. Cafe equipment: new vs pre-loved vs leased
  10. Buying cafe supplies & equipment

1. Concept and menu

Your business concept and menu will largely determine what equipment you’ll need for your cafe, so it’s important to map these out in your business plan before making any decisions.

Before investing in any equipment, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you going to offer cooked dishes? If so, how extensive is your menu?
  • Will you be offering beverages other than coffee? E.g. fresh smoothies and juices
  • Are you going to offer dine-in, takeaway or both?
  • What payment methods will you be accepting?
  • What style of seating would you have?  
  • Will you offer table service, or is it ordering at the counter only?

Understanding exactly how your cafe will operate and what dishes and drinks you’re going to offer is the first step to picking the right equipment for your cafe. This will ensure you don’t waste any time or money investing in the wrong equipment.

Get the tech you need

With a modern ePOS system, you can integrate a range of tech solutions to run your business better. Ready for a digital transformation? It’s easy with Lightspeed. Download our guide to find out more.

2. Barista tools and kitchen equipment

Once you’ve finalised your concept and menu, the next step is to make a list of the equipment you’ll need to bring your dishes and drinks to life. Below is a basic list of tools and equipment that cafes usually invest in that you can use as a starting point and tailor to your operational requirements accordingly.


Of course, the most important piece of cafe equipment is the espresso machine – any barista’s motherboard. The kind of machine you buy, however, may depend on the type of coffee you wish to make.

Automatic espresso machine (the obvious choice)

With an automatic espresso machine, you can ensure consistency and speed. They’re easy to train staff on and ideal for busy periods where coffee needs to be made quickly

Lever espresso machine (the artisans choice)

Lever espresso machines require a little more skill and finesse to operate, but if used correctly they can free a barista up to make seriously good espresso. Making espresso with a lever machine involves pulling a lever that, once released, pushes the water through the coffee. 

Therefore, the speed at which you pull the lever will affect the speed at which the water extracts compounds from your coffee grounds. That ultimately affects the taste of the espresso. There’s a bit of an art to it, but once mastered a barista has more control over how their end product tastes.

Coffee grinder

If you want to make the best tasting coffee possible, you’re gonna have to grind your beans. But what kind of grinder should you buy, and why? Warning, we may get a little technical.

Conical burr grinders

Conical grinders get their name from their shape, which is a cone. They’re pretty much the industry standard so chances are you’ve seen and used them once before. They’re the cheapest, least noisy and least energy-consuming type of commercial grinder. 

Without getting too technical, they do have a downside. The way that conical grinders grind beans results in a ‘bimodal’ distribution of coffee ground. That’s to say, the grounds they produce will be of different sizes, and differences in size can create an imbalance in extraction between different sizes of beans – leading to a more bitter tasting product. That said, you can still create incredible tasting espressos from a conical burr grinder.

Flat burr

But there is another kind of grinder, one that’s a little more sophisticated albeit more expensive, louder and energy-consuming—the flat burr grinder. If you’re just starting and looking to keep your costs down, you’d be just fine with a conical burr grinder. 

But if you’re looking to invest in a piece of cafe equipment that can set your products apart, consider a flat burr grinder. Unlike conical burrs, flat burrs use a different mechanism for grinding beans that creates a ‘unimodal’ distribution of coffee beans: the ground all comes out the same size.

That means coffee bean mass is extracted into the brewed coffee at a consistent rate. No need to balance between the bitter taste of smaller grounds and the sweet taste of larger grounds. The result? A truly exceptional espresso.

Kitchen Equipment

Apart from espresso machines and coffee grinders, there’s a load of other equipment that you’ll need to keep your cafe ticking. Consider the following: 

  • Scales
  • Syrup pumps
  • Frothing thermometers 
  • Timers
  • Blender
  • Oven
  • Toaster
  • Grill
  • Hotplate
  • Microwave
  • Dishwasher
  • Preparation table
  • Chopping boards
  • Cooking utensils

3. Space capacity of your venue

While this sounds obvious, it’s actually a key step in your decision-making process. There are multitudes of variations in the types of equipment you’ve narrowed down on.

Understanding your space constraints early on will allow you to eliminate options that are simply not feasible. Measure out how much room you have to plan your layout and decide on fitting equipment accordingly. 

4. Storage

If you’re preparing food and drinks on-site, you’ll need a safe and secure way to store your stock. While the size of your equipment will vary depending on the size of your venue, there is also storage equipment to consider. Below is a simple list to get you started: 

  • Industrial Fridge / Freezer 
  • Gastronorm pans
  • Insulated containers for milk & cream
  • Kitchen shelving units
  • Storage containers (ingredient bins, preserving jars)
  • Industrial plastic wrap 

5. Customer orders

The next thing to consider is how your customers will place their orders and what equipment you’ll need to facilitate this.

Are you going to offer table service? If so, will you invest in tablets (like iPads) that sync orders to your point of sale (ePOS), or will you opt for pen and paper? If you plan for customers to place their orders at the counter, will you opt for a customer-facing screen?

Once you’ve determined your ordering process, you’ll need to research which cafe ePOS system can best facilitate your workflows and business goals.

With so many options on the market, finding an ePOS platform for your cafe can be daunting. To ensure you purchase the best platform for your business needs, ask the following questions:

  • Is onboarding, training and support included with my purchase?
  • Does the POS support flexible payment & ordering solutions?
  • Does the POS facilitate customer marketing & loyalty? 
  • Is the POS scalable – can it support my business as it grows?
  • Does the POS have options for omnichannel ordering?
  • Does the POS include inventory & supply management?
  • Is there a flexible contract?
  • Does the POS collect sales, product and employee data?

Note, you’ll also need to purchase compatible printers to relay orders to baristas and the kitchen.cafe pos system

6. Payment methods for your cafe

Card payment is now the popular payment method amongst consumers, with debit cards alone accounting for 42% of all UK payments. This cashless trend is the result of new payment technology, like Apple Pay, and a societal shift towards the convenience of tap and go payments. 

So it’s important, as a new cafe owner, to factor in customer behaviour when determining the payment methods you’ll offer. This will determine the equipment you require to process payments.

  • Will you accept Google Pay and ApplePay? 
  • Will you accommodate split bills?
  • Would you prefer your billings to go through a table ordering system (such as me&u)?
  • Will you go completely cashless or have a hybrid of cash & card?  

Take the pain out of payments

Looking to simplify your payments? Try Lightspeed Payments, an integrated payment software that sync directly with your cafe ePOS. Accept any payment types, automatically reconcile transactions and enjoy a transparent pricing model with zero set-up fees.

7. Health, safety and security equipment

Health and safety is a top priority for a new cafe, and it’s essential to have the right equipment to ensure your cafe meets the required health and safety standards. Here are some things to consider:

  • A 3-compartment sink for rinsing, washing, and sanitising dishes
  • Industrial cleaning products
  • Trash cans
  • Mops, bucket and brushes
  • Fire extinguisher

As well as health and safety equipment, every business needs a security system to deter crime and ensure the safety of their employees, customers, and property. This may include security equipment such as cameras and burglar alarms (both in the cafe and on the front and back doors).

8. Financing your equipment

Purchasing equipment is a weighty financial undertaking and having upfront capital is not always feasible. Taking out a business loan is a popular option for new business owners, and major banks offer a range of different options.

Head to the UK Government’s business advice website to learn more about how to apply for a business loan.

Cafe owner using POS

9. Cafe equipment: new vs pre-loved vs leased

There is also the option of purchasing new or used cafe equipment – as well as leasing your equipment. All of these options will have an impact on your finances.  

New equipment is clearly the most expensive option, but everything should operate like clockwork, and you’ll have a warranty if anything goes wrong. On the other hand, purchasing used equipment is much more cost-effective. However, you’ll need to inspect it beforehand to check for issues, and you might have to pay for repairs further down the line.

Depending on your immediate requirements and what you can afford, it could be beneficial to lease your equipment. Leasing equipment can save you from investing large sums of money upfront. Plus, any repairs that need doing won’t be your responsibility. After establishing your business and having a steady cash flow, you can then look at buying equipment. 

10. Buying cafe supplies & equipment

Below are some popular options that cafe owners explore for their cafe equipment and supplies. 

If you’re looking to purchase new equipment, try doing a quick search online for the best deal. Here are some well-known retailers:

Pick the right equipment for your cafe

We hope this 10-step guide sparks your internal conversation and takes some weight off your decision-making process.

Starting a new cafe is a stressful yet beautifully exciting time, and we wish you all the very best. And we’ll be right here on the sidelines, cheering on your first delicious brew!


News you care about. Tips you can use.

Everything your business needs to grow, delivered straight to your inbox.

More of this topic: Starting a Business