How Your Coffee Shop Can Survive a Crisis: 18 Ideas

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

One of the key characteristics of a crisis is that it comes when you’re not expecting it. Which may be okay–if you’re prepared. But if you couple the unexpected with the unprepared, that’s when real disaster strikes.


Businesses who focused solely on one method of serving their customers are scrambling or, even worse, closed. Coffee shops and other service industry businesses have to either adapt or die.

However, just because you can’t serve customers the exact same way you did four weeks ago, doesn’t mean you should stop serving them altogether. Think of this as a new challenge.


With constraints comes creativity. (Check out how I kept my previous coffee shop open during a city-wide water boil)

How to Keep Running a Coffee Shop During COVID-19

Here are some questions and ideas of how to maintain your coffee business during a crisis:


  1. Takeout and delivery - Set a five-mile radius around your shop and let everyone know they can order online or phone in their order. Also, offer your coffee beans for sale as well.

  2. Sell gift cards at a discount - Money today to pay vendors and bills is worth more than it will be tomorrow.

  3. Create digital content - Write blog posts, make videos and post them on YouTube, write emails that you can schedule to go out the rest of the year. Think about what things you know your customers want to know and are always asking about. Create content that answers those questions.

  4. Experiment with creating and selling digital products or different physical goods - Create at-home cold brew kits that you can deliver to customers. Write an e-book that answers the most asked coffee questions and sell it on your website for a few dollars.

  5. Discount and sell your retail merchandise.

  6. Sell your unused inventory - Or get creative with it. There’s bound to be stuff back there that you can sell or use.

  7. Make your own flavored syrups and sell them - Or buy them at wholesale cost and mark them up.

  8. Connect with support groups - Look at Facebook, Nextdoor, and local business organizations.

  9. Send emails - Use that email list and let people know what’s going on and how they can help.

  10. Collect reviews - Google My Business has closed reviews during the COVID-19 crisis, but that shouldn’t stop you from reaching out to customers directly. Email, text, or DM them and ask for a review. A text review or video review is useful when the business starts to pick back up.

  11. Try something completely different - Do you or your staff have a different skill that you can sell to customers? Maybe you can offer graphic design work or yoga classes on YouTube Live.

  12. Host virtual coffee brewing instruction classes.

  13. Brew large batches of cold brew concentrate - The price is great and effort is low. Yes, they sell this at the grocery stores, but people aren’t shopping there right now.

  14. Rent out equipment - Obviously, you don’t want to let your espresso machine go home with someone else, but how about some manual brew equipment?

  15. Become a coffee coach - Offer personalized coaching sessions for people via FaceTime. Coach them on how they can brew the best coffee possible with whatever their home setup is. Watch them brew and give them tips and insights along the way.

  16. Take a look at your numbers - Go over your Profit & Loss statements and find where you can cut costs. Analyze your profit margins on every product and consider eliminating the least profitable ones.

  17. Can you provide coffee to first responders?

  18. Can you pay your employees if they’re out of work?

Businesses who focused solely on one method of serving their customers are scrambling or, even worse, closed. Coffee shops and other service industry businesses have to either adapt or die.


One of the key characteristics of a crisis is that it comes when you’re not expecting it. Which may be okay–if you’re prepared. But if you couple the unexpected with unprepared, that’s when real disaster strikes.


Looking for some other ways to cut costs during the quarantine time? Right now, my coffee roasting company, Super Good Coffee Co. is offering our single-origin Honduras Estrella Lenca coffee to coffee shops AT COST! Shipping not included.


I hope you all find something useful here and can make it through this tough time! If you want some consulting at this time for how to keep running, cut costs, or shift business models, contact me here or email me at tom@coffeeshopkeys.com and we can schedule a virtual meeting.

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