Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Coffee House Research

This week I had to do a site visit to a Coffee House to do some research for a project I am working on.  I had to watch how the customers and employees move through the space, how the layout and finishes work, and what kind of customers come in.  I went to visit a Starbuck's on Sunday afternoon.  There were a few customers that went through the drive-thru in the time I was there, but the majority of people came in to get their drinks.  The customers would come in, go directly to the counter, order their drink, and then mill around looking at the various gift ideas since it is the Christmas season.  There was a couple that came in and sat on the comfy chairs to chat while waiting for their drinks. 

The employees were very cheerful and took care of the customers immediately.  I never saw a line form, or saw a customer have to wait more than a minute or two for their drink.  I did not see anyone buy any of the food items that they offer.  The employees seemed to have little areas that were their own that they pretty much stayed in which kept them from getting in each others way.  Occasionally one of the employees would have to go in the back room for something, I noticed it was always the same employee.  That was also the same employee that was working closest to that door while he was behind the counter.  They seemed very efficient.  The store is kind of skinny and long which made the tables at the front to sit at seem kind of crowded together.  There were two comfy chairs placed near the counter that were a nice touch.  The gift section was set up in a way that was easy to view while standing waiting for your order. 
I noticed that there is a wide variety of people that come in to the store at any time.  While I was there there was a young family with a child that came in, young couples, a young mother with a baby, and a student that set up a little study area complete with her laptop.  There was also a small group of friends that came in together, an older woman, a mother and daughter, and an older man that possibly had come from church and sat down to read the Sunday paper.  The vast majority of people came in, got their drink, and left. 

The neutral color of the walls creates a blank canvas for whatever they want to do in the store.  The dark wood tones of the shelves the gifts are on stands out from the neutral walls very well.  It catches your attention.  The different wood tones of the counter add some interest to the space.  The dark tile floors add a nice contrast while creating a space that is easier to keep looking nice in a high traffic area.  The dark green chairs add a nice pop of color to a neutral palette while not being a bold statement.  They also had very minimal Christmas decorations near the gift items which reminded the customers of their shopping lists.  There are also some tables outside for customers when weather permits.  I know I will be making another visit on Black Friday early in the morning!   
Next week...Inspirational Design


  1. I agree about the comfy chairs, I have frequented coffee houses and that is always what I look for, kinda gives a feel of a home away from home. Somewhere cozy to drink your coffee and read a paper, I would have definatly stayed away from the crowded tables, I want to feel alone even in a public area when I go to a coffee house.

  2. The look is kind of blah to me, not very inviting except for maybe the stuffed chairs. Not somewhere I would go to.