Fraser Jamieson
Cafe and Restaurant Coffee Consulting
Fraser Jamieson
Cafe and Restaurant Coffee Consulting

Coffee Bar Design Coffee bars and liquor bars appear similar, in many respects, but differ operationally. Few architects or interior designers have sufficient barista knowledge to be relied upon solely at the planning stages. Wise designers consult an industry professional for layout suggestions when creating a coffee bar design.

The following points, passed along to your designer and building contractor, should prove helpful:

  • A conventional front bar / back bar design is usually the most time efficient.
  • L shaped bars are typically slower and require excessive movement to perform each task.
  • A back bar with a height of 36 inches allows for under-counter appliances and provides a convenient working height.
  • Back bars of 42 inch height are typically found in liquor bars and tend to slow down preparatory tasks commonly performed on the back bar of a coffeehouse.
  • You need a bar fridge, dishwasher, and ice machine, within easy reach.
  • You should be able to touch the espresso machine, the fridge, the sink, and your blender, all without stepping any distance.
  • Two suitably sized openings below the counter, and near the dish washer, will allow for spare dishwasher racks and natural air drying.
  • The front bar should be at a height of 36 inches but 32 to 34 inches in the “well” area which holds the espresso machine and grinders. This is particularly important when hand tamping. Repetitive strain injury and poor extractions due to misalignment of the tamper are common with improper counter height.
  • Counter space should allow for the primary grinder(s) to be positioned to the left of the espresso machine. Secondary grinders may either be placed to the far left or immediately to the right of the machine. This reduces hand-over of portafilters and saves time on each beverage.
  • The area beneath the espresso machine should be used to house the water treatment system only.
  • Your front bar should be 30 inches deep to allow for drink preparation between the barista and the espresso machine.
  • The front bar must be no less than 4.5 feet but preferably 6 feet long, or longer.
  • The work surface should be truly and completely waterproof. Stainless steel and granite are both excellent surfaces.
  • Access holes for power cords, water supply lines, and drainage hoses, should be large and thoughtfully located. Holes should be ground smooth or fitted with a grommet. Hoses and cables must not be crimped.
  • In preference to a round access hole, consideration should be given to cutting a large letterbox opening, running the length of the espresso machine. This allows for future machine updates and additional devices.
  • You must have a double service sink and a smaller single hand washing sink.
  • Consideration should be given to the installation of a knock bar and under-counter waste bin as opposed to a small standalone knock box. Having both may prove beneficial.
  • Consider the installation of an inversion style pitcher washer. These save time and water while also doing a better job of removing milk from pitchers.