How To Open A Hipster Coffee Shop: A Step By Step Guide

Latte with a side of mustache.

Latte with a side of mustache.

A converted warehouse is good. The charred remains of a burned down corn silo are better.

So you want to open a hipster coffee shop? That’s cool, I guess. Just follow these seven easy steps and in no time at all you will have a thriving cafe full of silent, vaguely angry-looking people Instagramming their lattes.

Step 1: Choose a suitable location.

This is arguably the most important choice you will make, so weigh your options wisely. That vacant cafe space that just opened up in your neighborhood? Forget it. Too obvious. That gorgeous new spot in the first floor of an office building downtown? Ugh. Too mainstream. Remember you want somewhere cold, uncomfortable, and unwelcoming. A converted warehouse is good. The charred remains of a burned down corn silo are better. An abandoned nuclear bunker is best.

Step 2: Decorate.

Repeat after me: Stainless steel, glass, and a single piece of reclaimed barn wood. Arrange these three things in any configuration and you’re good to go.

Step 3: Hire your staff.

When it comes to hiring people, be sure to steer clear of anyone who has a customer service background and glowing recommendations. The last thing you want is a perky, friendly face to greet your customers. So predictable! The vibe you’re going for is a balance of disinterest and contempt. Your customers should be greeted with a scowl and then ignored for 10 minutes while they stand at the counter wondering what they did wrong. This is how they know they’re at a Very Serious Coffee Shop.

Step 4: Choose an employee uniform. 

You have some wiggle room here — for example, will your baristas’ handcrafted leather aprons be black or dark grey? — but for the most part, there’s an equation you must stick to: bow ties (on men and women), vintage eyeglasses (with or without lenses), and asymmetrical haircuts.

Step 5: Create a menu.

This part is easy, because you’re not so much writing a menu as a minimalist 3-line beat poem. For example:



Coffee + Milk.

There’s your menu! Under no circumstances should this document include gratuitous items like sweeteners or flavored syrups (be sure your baristas memorize an informative lecture titled “Newsflash: This Isn’t Starbucks” in case people request these items). Prices are also unnecessary. If customers are gauche enough to ask, “How much is it?” the answer is always, “Eleven dollars.”

Step 6: Fill the pastry case.

OK, so maybe the word “fill” here is a bit of a misnomer. Your pastry case should always be completely empty except for a single gluten-free scone that looks like it has been sitting there for days. Don’t put a price label on the scone, but if anyone asks, it is eleven dollars.

Step 7: Queue up your soundtrack.

You have two options, and two options only: thumping ‘90s hip-hop played at a deafening, anxiety-inducing volume, or total silence. Switch back and forth abruptly between the two for the most jarring, disconcerting experience possible. Trust me, people will love it!

And there you have it — just follow this exact format and you’re guaranteed to have a booming business. At least until a cooler, more hipster-y coffee shop opens up a few doors down. Which means you’ll have at least a week of unfettered success. Enjoy!


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