Café Startup Equipment Checklist: What You Do (& Don’t) Need!

When you’re opening a cafe or a coffee shop, it can be difficult to think through each and every item you’ll need to run a successful business. From industrial bean grinders to refrigeration systems, flatware, paper products, storage, and more – the number of items you need can be dizzying.

But when it comes to how to set up a cafe, acquiring the necessary equipment is very important – and you don’t want to forget crucial items, only to find yourself without them when your grand opening rolls around.

That’s why here at Impos, we’ve put together this Cafe Startup Equipment Checklist! With this comprehensive guide, you’ll be able to make sure you’ve got everything you need – before you open your doors to the public!


Food and drink preparation

Naturally, the preparation of coffee beverages and food is at the centre of your business – and you’ll need a wide variety of equipment to ensure you can provide your customers with the items they want.If you carefully tick off each of these details before you open your doors, you’ll find you’ll be far better off than if you just took the plunge without doing the hard yards first.

Your list of equipment should include:

  • Drip coffeemakers
  • Coffee presses
  • Coffee beans
  • A high-quality espresso machine
  • Industrial coffee grinders
  • A water filtration system
  • Food preparation tables
  • Food storage bins, bottles, and pumps
  • Commercial blenders
  • Ovens/toasters/grills
  • An ice maker

While your needs will differ depending on the items you’re serving – you won’t need a grill if you don’t plan on serving hot sandwiches, for example – they’re almost all essential.

Another aspect to consider is the make and model of a high-quality espresso machine, rather than just going for whatever fits your budget. Since a good brew is likely to be your core offering, you’ll need a machine that goes the distance and pulls its weight. When you’re hunting around for one of these, make sure you choose a model that can produce a significantly high number of cups a day – all the while being able to turnaround the product quickly. Remember busy periods will put strain on your staff and pressure on your equipment, so having a machine that supports the process is key. Our top tip is to pick a durable model that is fitted out with all the right features for your venue will be the make or break.


Software is an often-overlooked aspect of running a coffee shop. However, selecting the right software for your business is a must for your continued success. At a minimum, you’ll need:

  • A robust security system
  • A POS system
  • Employee management/scheduling software
  • Payroll/accounting software

These products will ultimately support your business operations from one end to the other. Be it for staff and administration through to keeping customers happy and loyal – you’ll need to tick all of these off your list first.

QR Code Check-in

2020 has changed the hospitality landscape for ever with Covid safety QR code check-ins for contact tracing purposes although each state varies slightly. Over the past few months, many State Governments have made contact tracing mandatory and introduced enhanced QR Code contact tracing measures to make the process more efficient and help stop the spread of COVID 19.

Contactless Ordering

Contactless ordering has seen massive growth over the past 12 months, whether online ordering and delivery, or order at table solutions. The standout options for order at table include a QR code with with Mr Yum or a beacon at table with Me&U. The latest online ordering platform Cinch differs from other partners in that it doesn’t take a percentage of your sales, and now also order at table functionality.


The level of integrations with third party applications to make your life easier are endless. From accounting to rostering, reporting, order ahead, order at table, delivery, payment, and everything in-between.

A fully functional POS system

Speaking of POS systems, these are absolutely critical. Impos cafe POS system, allows you to check out customers quickly and gather valuable business insights that can help you improve efficiency and profitability. Beyond this, you’ll be able to upgrade your business offering through aspects like loyalty programs, delivery functionalities and additional support. When cafes are equipped with insights, data and information, they’re able to tailor their strategies accordingly – something a POS system can help you generate carefully.
Best of all, you can also manage stock levels and all elements related to your pricing, allowing you to keep up with demand when you need it most.

>> Don’t have a POS system installed yet? Get in touch to find out how our integrations and software can take your cafe to the next level. <<

A Wi-Fi connection

You may have gotten away with it in the past, but including a Wi-Fi connection in your cafe is almost a must these days. From business professionals through to those on-the-go, give back to your customer base by allowing them to access free internet within your venue. This will also keep them onsite longer, enticing them to stay for another coffee (or two). Additionally, you’ll inspire those looking for a work lunch spot or meeting place to choose you over competitors who may not have this functionality.

Heating & Cooling

It goes without saying, but no business (be it within hospitality or not) should open doors without a solid heating and cooling system in place. If you’re trying to tick all elements off your cafe equipment checklist, this should be among your top details.

As Australia’s heat can be a little on the harsh side, having a place of respite and relief for those without air conditioning, will lure more customers into your venue. On the other end, providing heating will do the same – not to mention keep staff happy, too.

Storage and refrigeration

You’re going to be working with quite a few perishable goods, and a lot of different ingredients. This means you’ll need a comprehensive storage and refrigeration system to make sure your perishable foods adhere to regulatory guidelines. You should have:

  • Industrial refrigerators
  • A large freezer (walk-in for larger businesses)
  • Insulated containers for cream and milk
  • Industrial shelving for dry storage
  • Food storage containers for opened ingredients
  • Industrial plastic wrap

When you’re on the hunt for these additions, however, keep design and interiors in mind. You’ll want something that suits your aesthetics, all the while providing the functionality you need. Ensure you also position them in accessible areas, as this will be the make or break factor during busy periods.


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Consumable Goods

You’re going to need quite a few consumable paper and plastic goods at your coffee shops. These consumables include:

  • Napkins
  • Insulated paper cups and lids
  • Cardboard sleeves
  • Plastic cups and lids
  • Straws
  • Paper towels
  • Paper/cardboard plates

Your particular needs will vary based on the type of beverages you’ll serve at your coffee shop, but this list is a good “rule-of-thumb” for your cafe equipment checklist.

Dishes and flatware

You’ll need a lot of dishes and flatware to provide customers with a good experience inside your cafe. This list of equipment includes:

  • Plates
  • Mugs
  • Cups and drinking glasses
  • Spoons, knives, and forks
  • Drink preparation utensils (barista spoons, pitchers, and other specialized utensils)

As to the fun stuff, you can choose what style you’re after. For a more consistent look, you can order sets of food-service grade equipment from industrial restaurant supply stores.

Alternatively, you can imbue your coffee shop with some personality by using thrifted or mismatching dishes and utensils, as well as quirky coffee mugs of different shapes and sizes.

Cleanup and maintenance

To provide a great customer experience – and to conform to health codes – you’ll need specialized cleanup and maintenance equipment. This equipment will include:

  • A 3-compartment sink for rinsing, washing, and sanitizing dishes
  • Mop and dedicated mop closet/sink
  • Rags and industrial cleaning spray
  • Dishwasher
  • Bus trays for dirty dishes
  • Trash cans and bags
  • Dumpster/trash compactor

Depending on your local municipal health codes, your requirements may differ. We recommend contacting a health inspector in the area to inquire about all relevant guidelines and regulations.


Furniture and decor

Furniture isn’t always thought of as “equipment” for a cafe – but your customers need somewhere to sit, and it doesn’t come with your leased cafe space, so we think it counts! In addition, you’ll want decor that helps set your cafe apart from the rest. So here’s a run-through of some of the equipment you might need:

  • Tables and chairs
  • Counters/bar seating
  • Outdoor furniture and umbrellas
  • Food prep/work counters
  • Display/storage cases
  • Overhead menus
  • In-store menus and displays
  • Interior/exterior lighting
  • Wall art, framed photos/posters, etc.
  • Audio systems

Again, your equipment needs will vary depending on your store. If you don’t need outdoor seating, for example, you won’t have to worry about weather-resistant seating or umbrellas.

A powerful security system

No matter where your cafe is located, all businesses need a quality security system in place to avoid crime or mishaps. Be it cameras or alarms (both within the shop and outside of it), these additions will grant you peace of mind and security when you need it most. They’ll also give you eyes on your employees when you’re not around.

Pro tip: If you’re looking around for the right system, we recommend opting for a provider that will install the product end-to-end. This means you’ll avoid any complications or downtime, and will be given direction towards using it all correctly.

Other products to consider

While they’re not necessarily ‘equipment’, they are the fundamental elements to the perfect cup of Joe – milk and water. Ultimately, using the right, high-quality liquids within your process will determine a tasty coffee from one that needs a little more attention. It can also significantly impact the experience for your customers, so it pays to ensure you’re using products that are well-received by those frequenting your business.

The first step here is to scratch the mindset that all milk is the same. These days, there are so many varieties to choose from, with soy and almond milk constantly popping up in the crowd-favourite lists. Ensure your cafe is equipped with enough stock for both, as well as traditional like full-fat and skim milk. Also consider that some milks steam better than others, so it pays to do your research first.

And on the other hand, there’s your use of water. While it’s often forgotten, water is key to a quality cup, so incorporating a filtration system into your list of equipment is vital. Not only will this extend the life of your espresso machine, it will improve the taste of your coffee, too. And that’s always a win-win.

Top it all off by sourcing high-quality, ethically sourced coffee beans from a supplier you can trust. Sometimes, choosing local options gives you the benefit of supporting small business, all the while investing in a product that you know is driven by quality. Our top tip here is to do your research on roasters in the area, and ensure you’ve done your taste tests before taking your pick. Afterall, a good bean is essentially the basis of a solid cup of coffee.

Follow this cafe startup checklist – and get what you need!

Starting any business can be complex – and cafes are no different. Even if you follow this guide to a “T”, you’re likely to forget or neglect an important purchase – so make sure you anticipate this, and give yourself time to acquire everything you need before you open your coffee shop.

When you’re ready to dive in, ensure you’ve got your business plan ready to go. This will allow you to organise your thoughts, keep your budget in mind (or develop one) and help you access financial support from banks, if you happen to need it. When in doubt, refer back to this and re-assess what your initial vision was and how it’s tracking.

But with this checklist, you’ll be able to get the important things that you need to get started. For more helpful advice about starting up a cafe, be sure to check out our comprehensive Cafe Startup Guide today!

>> Time to upgrade your cafe to the next level? See what our POS systems can do for your business <<

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