How to Start a Café or Coffee Shop in Manama Bahrain

how to start cafe or coffee shop in manama bahrain

Starting a café or coffee shop in Manama, Bahrain, can be an exciting and potentially lucrative venture. However, it requires thorough planning, understanding of the local market, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you get started:

1. Market Research

Understanding the Market:

  • Customer Preferences: Study the local demographics and customer preferences. Manama has a diverse population with a mix of locals, expatriates, and tourists. Understanding their tastes, coffee-drinking habits, and preferences for ambiance can help tailor your offerings.
  • Competition: Analyze existing cafés and coffee shops. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, their price points, and the unique selling points (USPs) they use to attract customers. This will help you carve out your niche.

Location Analysis:

  • Foot Traffic: High-traffic areas such as shopping malls, business districts, and tourist spots are ideal for a café. Manama has bustling areas like the Bahrain World Trade Center, Bab Al Bahrain, and Seef Mall that attract a lot of visitors.
  • Accessibility: Ensure your café is easily accessible with ample parking space. Proximity to public transport can also be a plus.
2. Business Plan

Executive Summary:

  • Concept: Define your café’s concept clearly. Are you aiming for a cozy, artisanal coffee shop or a modern, tech-savvy café? Outline your mission, vision, and the unique experience you aim to provide.

Market Analysis:

  • Target Audience: Identify your primary and secondary target audiences. This could include office workers, students, tourists, or families.
  • SWOT Analysis: Conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to understand your business’s potential and risks.

Financial Plan:

  • Startup Costs: Estimate your initial investment. This includes rent, renovations, equipment, initial inventory, licenses, marketing, and working capital.
  • Revenue Projections: Create realistic revenue projections based on your market research. Include a break-even analysis and profit forecasts for at least the first three years.
  • Funding: Determine how you will finance your venture. Options include personal savings, bank loans, investors, or partnerships.

Operational Plan:

  • Suppliers: Identify reliable suppliers for coffee beans, food items, and other essentials. Consider local suppliers to reduce costs and support the local economy.
  • Staffing: Plan your staffing needs. This includes baristas, kitchen staff, waitstaff, and managers. Ensure you budget for salaries, training, and benefits.
3. Legal and Regulatory Requirements

Business Registration:

  • Commercial Registration (CR): Obtain a Commercial Registration (CR) from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism (MOICT). This involves submitting your business plan, proof of identity, lease agreement, and other necessary documents.
  • Municipality Approval: Secure approval from the local municipality for your café’s location and operations.

Health and Safety:

  • Health Certificate: Obtain a health certificate from the Ministry of Health. This ensures your café meets the health and hygiene standards required for food establishments.
  • Fire Safety: Ensure your premises comply with fire safety regulations and obtain a certificate from the Civil Defense Directorate.


  • Trade License: Apply for a trade license from the MOICT.
  • Food License: Obtain a food license from the Bahrain Food and Safety Authority (BFSA).
  • Signage Permit: If you plan to put up a signboard, you’ll need a signage permit from the local municipality.
4. Designing Your Café

Interior Design:

  • Ambiance: Create an ambiance that aligns with your brand and appeals to your target audience. Consider lighting, furniture, color schemes, and overall layout.
  • Functional Design: Ensure the design is functional with a well-planned layout for the kitchen, serving area, seating, and storage.


  • Essential Equipment: Invest in high-quality coffee machines, grinders, refrigerators, ovens, and other kitchen equipment.
  • POS System: Implement a reliable Point of Sale (POS) system for smooth transactions and inventory management.
5. Menu Development

Coffee Selection:

  • Variety: Offer a variety of coffee options, including espresso, cappuccino, latte, and specialty brews. Consider sourcing beans from different regions to provide unique flavors.
  • Quality: Focus on quality by sourcing premium beans and training your staff in proper brewing techniques.

Food Menu:

  • Complementary Items: Offer food items that complement coffee, such as pastries, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Ensure you cater to various dietary preferences, including vegan and gluten-free options.


  • Competitive Pricing: Price your items competitively while ensuring a good profit margin. Consider the cost of ingredients, overheads, and market rates.
  • Promotions: Offer promotions and loyalty programs to attract and retain customers.
6. Marketing Strategy


  • Brand Identity: Develop a strong brand identity with a memorable name, logo, and tagline. Ensure your branding is consistent across all platforms.
  • Online Presence: Create a professional website and maintain active social media profiles. Use these platforms to engage with customers, showcase your menu, and promote events.

Local Marketing:

  • Events and Collaborations: Host events such as live music, book readings, or coffee tasting sessions to attract customers. Collaborate with local businesses and influencers to increase visibility.
  • Loyalty Programs: Implement loyalty programs to reward repeat customers and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.


  • Digital Marketing: Use targeted online advertising through platforms like Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram to reach your audience.
  • Traditional Marketing: Utilize traditional marketing methods such as flyers, banners, and local newspaper ads to reach a broader audience.
7. Staffing and Training


  • Recruitment: Hire skilled and passionate staff who align with your café’s values and customer service standards.
  • Training: Provide comprehensive training in coffee preparation, food handling, customer service, and the use of equipment.

Team Culture:

  • Work Environment: Foster a positive work environment with open communication, teamwork, and opportunities for growth.
  • Employee Benefits: Offer competitive salaries, benefits, and incentives to attract and retain top talent.
8. Operations Management

Daily Operations:

  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Develop SOPs for all aspects of your café’s operations, including opening and closing procedures, cleaning schedules, and customer service protocols.
  • Inventory Management: Implement an efficient inventory management system to track stock levels and reduce waste.

Customer Experience:

  • Customer Service: Prioritize excellent customer service by training staff to be friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable.
  • Feedback: Encourage customer feedback through comment cards, surveys, and online reviews to continuously improve your offerings and service.
9. Financial Management


  • Bookkeeping: Maintain accurate and up-to-date financial records. Use accounting software to track income, expenses, and profits.
  • Budgeting: Create and stick to a budget. Monitor your financial performance regularly and make adjustments as needed.

Cost Control:

  • Cost Analysis: Regularly analyze your costs to identify areas where you can reduce expenses without compromising quality.
  • Supplier Negotiations: Negotiate with suppliers for better prices and terms.
10. Legal and Compliance

Ongoing Compliance:

  • Licenses and Permits: Ensure all your licenses and permits are up to date. Renew them as required.
  • Regulatory Changes: Stay informed about any changes in local regulations and compliance requirements.

Starting a café or coffee shop in Manama, Bahrain, requires careful planning, a clear understanding of the local market, and adherence to legal requirements. By conducting thorough market research, developing a solid business plan, designing a welcoming space, offering quality products, and implementing effective marketing strategies, you can create a successful and thriving café. Remember, the key to success lies in providing exceptional customer service and continually adapting to the changing needs and preferences of your customers.

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