15 Essential Books for Coffee Shop Owners

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Let's face it, running your own coffee shop isn't easy. Even though it's a labor of love, there are so many moving parts that need to come together at the end of the day to make things run smoothly. 

coffee shop owners at the counter

These essential books for coffee shop owners will help bring insight to various aspects of the operation whether it's brewing or official business.

The CofFee Dictionary by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood

This book is subtitled "An A-Z of coffee, from growing and roasting to brewing and tasting." Its handy size and digestible presentation makes it an ideal reference for the busy entrepreneur.

It contains more than 200 entries covering terms and techniques, beans and roasts, and equipment and methods, accompanied with colorful illustrations and artwork.

What I Know About Running Coffee Shops by Colin Harmon

This is arguably the best-known book on this list. What makes this book special is that its author narrates from his own experience building the Dublin-based 3fe Coffee.

The book lets you in on the story of how he started with a coffee cart and turned it into the world-famous establishment it has become. 

The book contains a lot of practical insights too, such as pricing, customer relations, staffing, and marketing. 

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer

Unlike the books featured above, this one addresses topics not specific to running a coffee shop, but is an essential guide to anyone planning to run any business in the hospitality field, coffee shops included.

The book was written by restaurateur Danny Meyer, famous for restaurants like Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and Shake Shack. His thesis is simple yet often taken for granted: the key to the success of such business is hospitality. 

The Founder's Dilemmas by Noam Wasserman

This book addresses the fears of the apprehensive businessman, regardless of the type and the size of the business they run. 

It answers the beginner's common questions such as, should they go alone or with partners, how much capital should they put in, and other early decisions that make or break their business.

This is an excellent source for coffee shop owners as it tackles the side of things that compliments good coffee and pastry, prudent management.


Some business owners these days join the specialty cafe trend equipped with grand interior design ideas and elaborate business plans, but with absolutely no knowledge of coffee basics.

This 1995 book by Ted Lingle discusses the essentials of coffee preparation. It brings in 50 years worth of scientific research conducted by the coffee industry.

It addresses the coffee shop owner's questions on the industry standards and some valuable recommendations for excellent brewing.

How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso & Tea Shop

This book by Elizabeth Godsmark is a very practical manual for anyone who wants to start a coffee shop business. 

The book includes topics such as business forms, contracts, worksheets, and checklists. Everything you need to know from planning, running, and the day-to-day operations is answered in this book. It even includes sample menus, recipes, inventory, and floor plans. 

The templates needed for a successful and profitable coffee shop can be found in this book.

Pour your Heart into it by Howard Schultz

One cannot speak of successful American coffee shops without mentioning Starbucks. In this book, former Starbucks CEO and now chairman emeritus Howard Schultz tells one of the most amazing business stories.

The books tells of Starbucks' beginnings as a single store in Seattle, to how it has crossed over and became the world's biggest chain of coffee shops.

The biggest takeaway a coffee shop owner can gain from this book is how passion can be profitable. 

Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques by David Schomer

This book has been dubbed "the barista's bible," and one chapter into the book, you'll see why.

The book is written in a conversational tone, making the discussion on the mechanical side of coffee preparation easier than how it would have been. Through this book, a coffee shop owner will understand better the engineering behind today's espresso machines, the coffee culture, as well as latte art.

Even the experienced ones would gain a thing or two from this book. It's an excellent addition to a coffee shop owner's shelf.

Wake up and Smell the Profit by John Richardson & Hugh Gilmartin

This book is a collection of insights from two of the UK's top coffee business gurus. It's witty, funny, but authoritative and comprehensive at the same time. 

The book promises great ideas on helping you make more money while working less, making your customers happy, and running your coffee shop more enjoyably.

The most valuable insight a coffee shop owner can get out of this book is how to make customers rave about their shop so that they bring in more customers and make the business more profitable.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting and Running a Coffee Bar

This book written by three authors (Linda Formichelli, W. Eric Martin, and Susan Gilbert) is exactly as its title suggests: a complete idiot's guide. 

It's ideal for those who have always dreamed of starting their own coffee shops, but do not quite know how to begin. 

This step-by-step guide shows what it's like to work behind the counter, creating a business plan, brewing your beverage, and pricing them, all written in layman's language.

Espresso! by Joe Monaghan and Julie Sheldon Huffaker

This A-Z guide offers tips and tricks on how to start your own specialty coffee business.

It contains valuable information that's difficult to find anywhere else - how you can start with a capital of as low as $15,000, finding the best location, dealing with suppliers, marketing your business, hiring the right people, and most importantly, brewing delicious coffee.

The New Community Rules by tamar Weinberg

One of the most crucial aspects of managing a coffee shop, or any business for that matter, is marketing. It is made even easier and less expensive today because of social media. 

This book explains how to start an online presence and how to leverage it to keep the customers coming. It explains web jargon and shows through case studies how blogging, microblogging, Twitter, and Facebook can all be used to create brand awareness.

This is definitely a must-read for any business owner.

Start and Run a CoFfee Bar By Tom Matzen

Coffee shops these days have become not just places to literally buy coffee, but have transformed into the choice of a local hangout. A coffee shop owners needs to understand and use that to their advantage, says this book.

This book addresses that side of things, making your coffee shop an ideal place for people to linger while sipping a cappuccino. It has an extensive section on designing your shop's interior, picking the right furniture, and playing the perfect music.

It also includes other essentials such as financial management and creating a marketing plan.

The World Atlas of Coffee by James Hoffman

This book is a very informative reference to anyone that's interested to find out more about any aspect of coffee.

James Hoffman, 2007 World Barista Champion and author of this book, comprehensively covers all aspects of coffee from growing to tasting.

It's an end-to-end guide for anyone starting to take an interest in coffee. It can also be placed in your coffee shop bookshelves for customers to read a page or two of while they're hanging out.


Edited by sociologists Aksel Tjora and Graham Scambler, this book is the most scholarly on this list.

Through a collection of articles from journals and academic publications, this book provides an interesting take on how the cafe has turned from a global phenomenon to an organic socio-cultural institution in modern society.

Though scholarly, this book will benefit a coffee shop owner in deepening their understanding of the social role their business has come to play.

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