5 Ways to Make a Coffee Shop Unique

Interior design studio Abu Dhabi - Coffee shop design

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Behind every coffee shop, there is someone’s dream. Coffee shops have a unique place in our culture, they act as places for fostering social interaction as well opportunities for the exchange of ideas. They are also a quickly growing and very competitive market, with more competition entering the market constantly.

Because of this, finding ways of standing out and creating a competitive advantage is essential, and with some great design thinking, you can also come up with ways to make your coffee shop unique.

In this article, we will go over 5 ideas that can help you stand out from the crowd and attract more customers. These will vary from easy to implement to more technical.

1. A Great Lighting Design Is the Best Way to Create an Amazing Atmosphere to make your Coffee Shop Unique

Lighting Design For Coffee shops
Lighting Design For Coffee shops

Lighting design is one of the most impactful things you can do to turn coffee shop design from good to amazing. The lighting design in a coffee shop is very relevant to achieving different moods and atmospheres within the same space and at the same time. Providing a warm, ambient light helps envelop coffee drinkers in an aura of comfort and relaxation, making the stay more enjoyable and pleasant.

Lighting design is sometimes not given the proper attention it deserves, but it can be very impactful. The reason for this is that it creates strong associations between light, its color and temperature, and certain moods. This is something that is ingrained in us, due to nature. For example, lighting is central in retail design, contributing to creating an atmosphere that you link to that particular brand.

Interior light sources fall into 3 general categories: ambient, task, and accent. 

The goal of ambient lighting, often known as general lighting, is to illuminate a whole room. It offers a consistent degree of illumination across the space, regardless of the presence of additional lighting sources. Task lighting illuminates areas where certain activities take place and it usually has a smaller focal point. Accent lighting is primarily used to draw attention to a particular area of interest or to generate the desired effect. This lighting creates the illusion of a larger space. It’s more commonly employed to draw attention to an architectural element, a plant (in an outdoor setting), a sculpture, or a grouping of artifacts.

Light color temperature is another factor that we have strong associations with. It usually varies from warm, also known as candlelight, to cold, also known as sky blue. Different light temperatures are suited for different environments and tasks. Colder temperatures make us alert and can help us focus, while hotter temperatures make us calm and relax. 

Designing Your Coffee Shop’s Lighting to Create a Unique Atmosphere

Start by maximizing natural light during daytime as much as possible, as it works quite well in a coffee shop beyond the added benefits. 

Next, start thinking about the placement of the various types of lighting. A good starting point is to place task lighting above the main counter. Look for places where you can place accent lighting, such as any architectural features of the space, or on the tables, or maybe there is an area that can work as a feature if it has the proper light.

A lighting plan is very important, and hiring a professional to help you with this would be an excellent investment. Implementing and balancing all the various lighting solutions for a coherent design is difficult and important to get right at the same time.

Also, think of the light temperature. For example, incandescent bulbs and mini-halogen track lighting can create a warm and cozy environment. You can play around with this, offering areas that are bright for some clients, while also creating dimly lit areas for relaxation.

A good pro-tip for lighting is to integrate a dim system. This will let you control light intensity and adjust it precisely depending on the time of day, or if necessary, during special events. This way, you can set up scenes within the coffee shop or to mimic sunrise or sunset.

2. Selecting the Right Color Palette Can Help You Create a for a Unique Coffee Shop Identity

Right Color Palette for Coffee Shop
Right Color Palette for Coffee Shop

Colors are an integral part of any design. The colors used in the interior design have a substantial impact on your customers, from the way they feel to the amount of time they spend in your coffee shop.

Colors can make your customer happy, boost their appetite, and can contribute to turnover, all the while making your coffee shop unique and even seem more spacious. Color choices have an impact on all of this, so creating a pleasant color scheme is very important. Furthermore, the color scheme also needs to tie into your brand identity and message, to create a coherent identity across the board.

An important consideration when choosing a color scheme is how it will last in time. Some color schemes can become outdated quickly, while others last longer. Brands invest in regular rebranding for exactly this reason, the ability to keep up with the times and attract new customers. So, it’s important to choose a color scheme that will last a bit and force an early redesign.

We will cover this in more depth in a future article, as the topic is a bit complex and deserves some more attention.

Designing a Color Palette that Reflects Your Coffee Shop’s Personality

The first step in choosing a color scheme is looking at your brand and seeing what can work with it. As with everything else in a business, this choice will also come from the branding and the way you want your clients to perceive you. It’s very important for the chosen scheme to be a natural extension of the brand.

There are a few colors that have stood the test of time, such as black, grey, and white. These are still widely adopted and their strong presence will always make them relevant. At the same time, they are very strong and have to pair intelligently and not overused, as they can overpower.

There are also some color choices that are excellent for coffee shops, such as coffee quartz, which has become a bit of a staple in many coffee shop designs. Light green colors also work quite well, as they bring out a sense of calmness.

Finally, there are also some bolder choices, such as indigo or coral. Don’t miss article on the Trendiest colours for a coffee shop on 2023. These can be dominant colors, so they have to be used in clever ways, such as accentuating certain features, or bringing certain elements forward. They can also give the space a unique identity, so do not be afraid to use them in that regard.

3. Acoustics Can Make a Big Difference in the Way Customers Interact with the Shop

Interior Design of Coffee Shops
Interior Design of Coffee Shops

Just like lighting, acoustics have a substantial impact on ambiance. Sound is another big factor in the way we interact with the environment. Because of this, the right acoustic setup can help generate a great atmosphere.

People enjoy going to coffee shops with background noise from chattering groups of friends behind them because it makes their experience more pleasant. This has become part of our collective consciousness, with websites appearing offering the typical background noise and chatter you find in a coffee shop. It’s a key staple of how we think about the coffee experience. But that should not prohibit creativity, and coffee shops can also create different atmospheres, from quiet and work-focused, to more vibrant and louder.

This acoustic design component also contributes to the way customers will relate to your brand and the overall vibe and atmosphere. Similar to lighting, coffee shop acoustics are a bit underrated, but they matter quite a lot.

Understanding the acoustics in the interior design of coffee shops depends on knowing what makes a space sound insulated. It is important to involve some sort of noise level management in that design. This means that while it is normal for a low volume to be playing in the background, the acoustics must be good so as not to distract the customers. The materials you choose to use will affect how sound reverberates within your space, which can make or break your café.

Using Acoustics to Create a Memorable and Unique Customer Experience

It is important to involve some sort of noise level management in that design. This means that while it is normal for a low volume to be playing in the background, the acoustics must be good so as not to distract the customers. Because of this, a good starting point of the acoustic design is how much noise do you wish to have, and how can you control the way it spreads through the space.

Materials fall within three categories in acoustic design: absorption, diffusion, and reflection. Absorbent materials trap sound, diffusion materials bounce sound back into the room multiple waves, and reflection simply bounces the sound back once. In order to control sound in the space and create a quiet zone, you will need to fill the quiet areas with absorbent material.

Textiles, such as rugs, or soft materials in general work very well in absorbing sound and creating potential quiet zones. Playing around with these materials to create the various zones will help you in achieving the various areas.

Same as with lighting design, a professional can help you implement a great acoustic design. This is a very technical area, and it can be quite easy to get wrong, so a professional would be able to help you with implementation.

4. Scent Psychology Can Help You Create Brand Loyalty 


The smell is highly an underrated sense, and it’s often overlooked by designers. While it is certainly true that the visual is very important, smell, especially in a coffee shop project has a strong impact on customer behavior. This is important even before we add the strong ties that we associate with the smell of coffee.

Psychologically, smell links strongly to memory. This is slowly being tapped into by retailers and brands as a great way of building brand loyalty. Retailers refer to it as the process of scent marketing.

This is however the first layer of the design, with the second one being the scent of coffee. Just like the drink itself, the smell of coffee is strongly rooted in our psychology. It brings forward a plethora of memories and emotions, that we have correlated with the smell of coffee.

Using Scent Psychology to Build Brand Loyalty in Your Shop

Scent design can be straightforward to set up. The first step is choosing the scent. You can use a dedicated design team or choose one that is readily available. Keep in mind that this scent should bring out the emotions that are tied to your brand identity.

Once you have a scent that suits the brand, you can setup up diffusers around the space that will lightly spread the scent. The quantity should be just enough to be sensed, but not so much as to overwhelm the senses.

Once all this is in place, it’s important to track how this changes your customer behaviors, to see if it has the desired effect. From there you can start tweaking the design, in response to the customer behavior.

5. Privacy Can Widen the Appeal of the Coffee Shop

Privacy in Coffee Shop
Privacy in Coffee Shop

While coffee shops are certainly social spaces, they should also be inclusive, catering to both guests who look to socialize, as well as those who look for some privacy. Because of this, finding the right balance between privacy and socializing is quite important. 

Both visitors who want to converse and those who don’t must be accommodated. As a result, the amount of seclusion in a cafe is determined by the use of interior design features. A balance must be struck to satisfy both sorts of audiences. For example, a client may look for either a private space where to chat, have professional meetings, and work, or they might be more open areas where to feel connected and meet new people.

The location of the furniture, the distance between fixtures are the main components used to achieve a balance between social and private. The coffee shop’s layout should have enough room for people to come and go without feeling like they’re getting in each other’s way. It should also give customers privacy when needed to make them feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Designing Your Coffee Shop for Maximum Comfort and Privacy

The distance and positioning of tables have the largest impact on the feeling of privacy within the coffee shop. It’s important to allow sufficient space to pass through them, as well as provide many seating options.

Start by thinking about what activities will take place in your coffee shop. Do you wish to provide only areas for socializing or do you wish to also provide working areas as well? From this point, you can start creating the layout of the tables.

Socializing spaces can have more dense placement of tables, while the work and privacy-focused areas can be more spaced apart. You can even go as far as to include a visual divider between the tables for added privacy.


Interior design is essential in the café business, regardless of type or format. Coffee shop, like other restaurants, are dependent on customer happiness, and how your customers feel while visiting your place is an important consideration in ensuring their satisfaction.

All of the factors mentioned above if put right into practice will have a positive impact on your brand and will help grow your coffee shop business. Beyond that it will contribute to building a loyal customer base that will further make you stand out in a crowded market, resulting in a healthy and thriving business.

Fast-track your success

Do you need more help? Tanic bridges interior design expertise with brand storytelling, delivering a complete and tailored solution for your business focused around a sense of brand love and identity. 

We believe that well-designed spaces have a unique and differentiating narrative. It is the story behind the design which allows people to connect with spaces by generating sensations and memories. Your coffee shop should convey a story, about your company, your values and the people it is designed for.

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Yaiza Martinez

About The Author

Introducing Yaiza Martinez, the go-to expert in strategy and hospitality interior design. As the mastermind behind Tanic Design, she’s revolutionizing the industry with her innovative approach and awe-inspiring designs.

With an impressive track record working alongside international clients, Yaiza knows exactly how to create immersive spaces that leave guests breathless. Her strategic mindset strikes the perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics, ensuring exceptional results every time.

As an entrepreneurial powerhouse, Yaiza injects her unique vision into each project she undertakes. Her ability to craft strategic plans that align with clients’ goals is unparalleled. By leveraging her expertise in market trends and customer preferences, she elevates guest satisfaction and drives business success to new heights.

Yaiza Martinez is a force to be reckoned with, shaping the future of strategy and hospitality interior design. Her unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and creating inspiring spaces sets her apart as a true industry trailblazer.

Ready to get in touch with Yaiza? Visit her contact page here and send her a quick message. Your next breathtaking design could be just a conversation away.

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