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How Much Does It Cost to Open a Drive-Thru Coffee Shop?

The amount required to start a drive-thru coffee shop business in the United States is not uniform. This is because you can start a drive-thru coffee shop can either start the business from multiple locations or from a single location. The bottom line is that you can work with whatever budget you have and still establish your drive-thru coffee shop.

In as much as you can work with any amount you have and still open a drive-thru coffee shop business, it is important to note that there are certain important factors that can determine the amount it will cost you to successfully start a drive-thru coffee shop business, and that is what we will discuss in this article.

Factors That Determine the Cost of Starting a Drive-Thru Coffee Shop

  1. The Location Where You Want to Start the Business

You will agree that when it comes to starting any business, your choice of location will to a large extent affect the overall cost of opening the business.

If you plan to open your drive-thru coffee shop in a metropolitan city, you should expect to spend more money on renting or leasing a facility, and also on other factors such as licensing and permits, tax, utilities, etc.

  1. Your Choice of Design and Layout 

The concept behind the drive-thru coffee shop model is to enhance speed and efficiency hence you should be ready to spend more to get the best design and layout for your drive-thru coffee shop.

For example, the best design and layout for a drive-thru coffee shop should prioritize efficiency and customer convenience. The order and payment window should be located conveniently, with quick service in mind.

Properly spaced pickup windows and waiting areas are essential to prevent congestion. Additionally, landscaping and exterior aesthetics should be inviting.

Ultimately, a functional, user-friendly design with a focus on speed and service will enhance the drive-thru coffee shop experience and of course, it will take a larger chunk of your startup capital.

  1. The Cost of Equipping Your Drive-Thru Coffee Shop Business

If you have plans to start a standard drive-thru coffee shop business, you will rent or lease a shop facility with ample space to allow cars to drive through, and you will install all the needed equipment, electronics, and furniture that will help you serve your customers.

You should make plans to purchase coffee machines, espresso machines, coffee grinders, commercial blenders, cash register or point-of-sale (POS) systems, drive-thru window and intercom systems, coffee urns, milk frothers,

Refrigeration units, beverage dispensers, ice maker, hot water dispenser, food warmer or display case, stainless steel workstations and countertops, storage shelves and cabinets, menu boards, cups, lids, and stirrers, syrup and flavoring dispensers, etc.

  1. The Number of Staff You Want to Recruit

Basically, you should make plans to recruit a manager, an accountant or cashier, a coffee maker, salespersons, and kitchen staff. As expected, the budget for recruiting and training your employees is going to be quite significant.

  1. The Cost of Obtaining the Needed Licenses and Permits

The fact that different states require different types of licenses and permits means that your budget for permits and licenses will be determined by the state you want to start your drive-thru coffee shop.

As expected, you should budget for a business license, food service license, health department permit, signage permit, zoning permit, building permit, occupancy permit, fire department permit, water and sewer permit, waste disposal permit,

Alcohol license (if serving alcohol), music license (if playing copyrighted music), drive-thru license (specific to drive-thru establishments), and Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS (for tax purposes) amongst others.

  1. Your Ongoing Expenses

Ongoing expenses for any business including a drive-thru coffee shop business are unique to the business owner and their preferences. But basically, you should have a budget for rent or lease payments, employee salaries and benefits,

Cost of goods sold (COGS), utilities (electricity, water, gas), inventory restocking, equipment maintenance, and repairs, cleaning supplies, waste disposal fees, insurance premiums, credit card processing fees, and licensing and permit renewals.

  1. The Cost of Supplies

You will need supplies to get started, hence it should be included as part of your startup capital. So, be ready to spend on supplies such as coffee beans, espresso grounds, milk and dairy products, syrups and flavorings, disposable cups,

Cup lids, stirrers or straws, napkins, coffee filters, baking ingredients (if offering pastries), cleaning supplies, condiment packets (sugar, creamer, etc.), paper towels, hand sanitizer, trash bags, receipt paper for POS system, first aid supplies, and office supplies (e.g., pens, notepads).

  1. Miscellaneous Expenses

Just like your ongoing expenditure, the amount you are expected to spend for your miscellaneous expenses is unique to you and the type of business model you want to operate.

Although there is no one mold fits all when it comes to miscellaneous expenses, you may decide to include the cost of hiring and paying a business consultant and attorney, the cost of branding, promotion, and marketing the business,

The cost of logistics, the cost of purchasing and customizing uniforms for your employees, and the cost for the grand opening of the drive-thru coffee shop as part of your miscellaneous expenses.