How to Start a Coffee Shop in Spain: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to start a coffee shop in spain

Starting a coffee shop in Spain, a popular tourist country with over 47 million people, can be an exciting and rewarding venture, but it requires careful planning and execution. This guide will take you through the essential steps to get your coffee shop up and running successfully in Spain.

1. Conduct Market Research

Understanding the Market

Before diving into the coffee shop business, it’s crucial to understand the market. Spain has a rich coffee culture, but preferences can vary widely between regions. Visit local coffee shops, observe customer behavior, and identify gaps in the market. Key points to research include:

  • Popular types of coffee and other beverages.
  • Preferred styles of coffee shops (e.g., traditional, modern, artisanal).
  • Busy locations and times.
  • Demographics and purchasing power of potential customers.
Competitor Analysis

Analyze existing coffee shops in your chosen location. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, and look for opportunities to differentiate your business. Consider factors like menu offerings, pricing, customer service, and ambiance.

2. Create a Business Plan

A solid business plan is the foundation of any successful business. Your plan should include:

  • Executive Summary: A brief overview of your coffee shop concept, goals, and key strategies.
  • Market Analysis: Insights from your market research, including target customers and competitors.
  • Business Structure: Decide on the legal structure of your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company).
  • Products and Services: Detailed description of your menu, including coffee varieties, food items, and any unique offerings.
  • Marketing Plan: Strategies for attracting and retaining customers, including online and offline marketing efforts.
  • Operational Plan: Day-to-day operations, including staff roles, supplier relationships, and equipment needs.
  • Financial Plan: Budget, projected income and expenses, and funding requirements.

3. Secure Funding

Determine how much capital you need to start and run your coffee shop until it becomes profitable. Consider expenses such as rent, equipment, inventory, salaries, marketing, and permits. Funding options include:

  • Personal savings.
  • Bank loans.
  • Investors or partners.
  • Crowdfunding.

4. Choose a Location

Selecting the right location is critical to the success of your coffee shop. Look for areas with high foot traffic, such as busy streets, near universities, or business districts. Consider factors like visibility, accessibility, and proximity to competitors.

5. Register Your Business

To operate legally in Spain, you need to register your business with the appropriate authorities. Steps include:

  • Choosing a Business Name: Ensure your business name is unique and not already registered.
  • Registering with the Commercial Registry (Registro Mercantil): This step involves obtaining a company tax ID (CIF) and registering your business.
  • Obtaining Licenses and Permits: Depending on your location, you may need various permits such as a business license, health and safety permits, and outdoor seating permits.

6. Design Your Coffee Shop

The design and ambiance of your coffee shop play a significant role in attracting and retaining customers. Consider hiring a professional designer to create a welcoming and functional space. Key elements to consider include:

  • Interior Layout: Efficient use of space for seating, service counters, and kitchen areas.
  • Furniture and Decor: Comfortable seating, attractive decor, and practical furniture.
  • Lighting and Atmosphere: Warm and inviting lighting to create a cozy ambiance.
  • Branding: Consistent use of your brand’s colors, logo, and theme throughout the shop.

7. Purchase Equipment and Supplies

Investing in high-quality equipment is essential for a successful coffee shop. Key items include:

Additionally, establish relationships with reliable suppliers for coffee beans, milk, syrups, pastries, and other ingredients.

8. Hire and Train Staff

Your staff is the face of your business, so hiring the right people is crucial. Look for individuals with experience in the coffee industry, excellent customer service skills, and a passion for coffee. Provide comprehensive training to ensure consistency in service and product quality.

9. Develop a Marketing Strategy

Effective marketing is key to attracting customers and building a loyal customer base. Strategies include:

  • Social Media: Utilize platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to showcase your products, promotions, and events.
  • Local Advertising: Advertise in local newspapers, magazines, and community bulletin boards.
  • Promotions and Discounts: Offer special deals, loyalty programs, and discounts to attract new customers.
  • Website and Online Presence: Create a professional website with your menu, location, hours, and contact information. Consider offering online ordering and delivery services.

10. Prepare for Opening Day

Leading up to your grand opening, ensure everything is in place:

  • Finalize your menu and pricing.
  • Conduct a soft opening to test your operations and gather feedback.
  • Promote your opening day through social media, local media, and word of mouth.
  • Plan special events or offers to attract customers on opening day.

11. Maintain Quality and Continuously Improve

Once your coffee shop is up and running, focus on maintaining high standards and continuously improving. Collect feedback from customers, monitor your financial performance, and stay updated with industry trends. Regularly review and adjust your menu, marketing strategies, and operations to meet changing customer preferences and market conditions.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

Business Structure

In Spain, you can choose from several business structures, including:

  • Sole Trader (Autónomo): Simplest form, ideal for small businesses.
  • Partnership (Sociedad Civil or Sociedad Colectiva): Suitable for businesses with two or more owners.
  • Limited Liability Company (Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada – SRL): Offers limited liability protection.
  • Public Limited Company (Sociedad Anónima – SA): Suitable for larger businesses with significant capital.
Tax Obligations

Understand your tax obligations, including:

  • Corporate Tax (Impuesto de Sociedades): Applicable to company profits.
  • Value Added Tax (VAT or IVA): Typically 21% on goods and services.
  • Social Security Contributions: For yourself and your employees.
Employment Laws

Familiarize yourself with Spain’s labor laws, including:

  • Minimum wage and working hours.
  • Employment contracts and termination procedures.
  • Health and safety regulations.
  • Social security and pension contributions.

Cultural Considerations

Understanding Spanish Coffee Culture

Spain has a unique coffee culture, with popular drinks including:

  • Café Solo: A strong, small black coffee similar to espresso.
  • Café con Leche: Equal parts coffee and hot milk.
  • Cortado: Espresso cut with a small amount of milk.
  • Café Americano: Espresso with added hot water.
  • Café Bombón: Espresso with condensed milk.

Understanding these preferences will help you tailor your menu to local tastes.

Language and Communication

While many Spaniards speak English, having some knowledge of Spanish will help you communicate effectively with customers, suppliers, and regulatory authorities. Consider hiring bilingual staff to bridge any language gaps.

Sustainability and Ethical Practices

Sourcing Ethically

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the ethical sourcing of coffee. Consider partnering with suppliers who offer fair trade and organic coffee beans. Highlight your commitment to sustainability in your marketing efforts.

Reducing Environmental Impact

Implement eco-friendly practices such as:

  • Using biodegradable or recyclable cups and packaging.
  • Encouraging customers to bring reusable cups.
  • Implementing waste reduction and recycling programs.

Challenges and How to Overcome Them


The coffee shop market in Spain can be highly competitive. Stand out by offering unique products, exceptional customer service, and a memorable atmosphere.

Seasonal Variations

Customer footfall may vary with the seasons, affecting your revenue. Plan for these fluctuations by adjusting your menu, offering seasonal promotions, and diversifying your product offerings.

Regulatory Hurdles

Navigating Spain’s regulatory environment can be challenging. Consider consulting with a local business advisor or lawyer to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.


Starting a coffee shop in Spain requires careful planning, a deep understanding of the local market, and a commitment to quality and customer service. By following these steps and continuously adapting to market trends, you can build a successful and thriving coffee shop business. Good luck on your entrepreneurial journey!

Scroll to Top