ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Open A Drive Thru Coffee Shop

Updated on December 30, 2013

Many people get to a certain stage in their life when they start thinking of alternative ways of making a living outside of working for the boss. Many wish to become the boss and open a small business, often a coffee shop. People think of moving to a picturesque area and opening a cafe or tea room, which is a great thing to do. BUT, opening a coffee shop is not without its stresses (learn more here), one of which is the overhead costs involved.

One way of cutting these overheads would be to open a drive thru coffee shop.

How To Open A Drive Thru Coffee Shop

 Way back in 2007, the papers were full of the fact that the UK was about to get its first drive thru coffee shop, a Starbucks, just outside Cardiff.  The USA, of course, has had drive thrus for years.  The press inform us that there are 21,000 drive thrus in the USA, and that Drive thrus account for half of Starbucks stores in the domestic market (this was in 2007, so I guess things may have changed since then).

Once the Cardiff drive thru opened, business was brisk, with people travelling for miles to sample coffee on the hoof, so it's clear that this is a tried and tested business model that can reap good profits. 

One of the benefits of opening a drive thru coffee shop is that the overhead running costs are lower than those of a high street coffee shop. Whether you choose a static coffee kiosk, or a mobile one there are start up costs, just as there would be with a high street cafe, but the running costs are fewer.

The main cost with a drive thru is the place itself. I'm not sure the business concept is mature enough yet for there to be drive thru premises for rental, so it's likely that buildings would have to be bought or converted. Likewise, I doubt there are many second-hand mobile coffee kiosks, but watch this space in the future as the model expands.

However, there are internet sites that actually let you download drive thru building plans for free, so it's worth doing some online research in order to make a financial saving.

Amazon even sell a drive thru unit 'off the peg.' I may be sad, but I thinks it's so cool that you can wake up one morning and think 'I'm going to open a Drive Thru,' then log on to Amazon and put an order in. Mind you, the Postie will struggle to get it through the letterbox.

With a regular high street cafe, you need tables and chairs, other furniture, substantial heating or air-conditioning (as hopefully the door is opening a lot), debit/credit card facilities, waiting staff, food prep staff, chillers, freezers, dishwashers, crockery, coffee machine, display cabinets, dry goods store, pot wash sink, hand wash sink, prep area, entertainments license (if you don't want the place to be as quiet as a morgue), waste removal contract, restroom facilities for customers, separate facilities for staff..... the list goes on.

For a drive thru you need a smallish building with two serving hatches, one for taking orders and the other for serving drinks and snacks.  You will also need: a coffee machine, dry goods store, chiller/freezer, restroom for staff, food prep area, pot wash sink, dishwasher, handwash sink, dry goods store, waste removal contract and that's pretty much the basics.

With both business models at least one person on site would need a food handling certificate.

As far as equipment goes, most coffee wholesale companies will lease and maintain coffee machines and chillers, providing you buy a certain amount of stock from them.

How to Open a Drive Thru Coffee Shop

 Customers expect a good range of coffees, teas and hot chocolates, with all the froth and trimmings, plus a decent range of cakes and maybe a few continental pastries, which may be brought in frozen and baked on site.

Their aim is to have a quick coffee and a cake on the run, so customers won't expect such an extensive menu as a high street coffee store.

Location, Location

As with a high street coffee shop, you need to choose the location for your drive thru carefully.  Finding a location with a high footfall (or tyre fall) past your hatch is vital, so the best places are at business parks, near convention centres, at motorway service stations or on A road lay-bys, or in car parks.

If you are looking at parking your mobile coffee kiosk in a car park or roadside, you will have to discuss plans with the local council first, who may well extract a small fee for the priviledge.

Rural locations are generally a no-no. However, Dartmoor has many successful coffee kiosks, such as the one permanently parked at Hound Tor, called 'The Hound of the Basket Meals'. Rural drive thrus will always be the exception rather than the rule.

The Hound of The Basket Meals Coffee Kiosk, Hound Tor, Dartmoor

There's little doubt that this is a business model with enormous financial potential; one that is well-worth considering if you want to be your own boss, but aren't too fussed about living in a pretty rural idyll.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MarieAlana1 profile image

      Marie Alana 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      I love this article. Yes, you would need a food handling license or certificate, but beyond that there are so many possibilities. You can buy anything on Amazon these days. Some peopl even do coffee shops on a bicycle. Here is so more information about mobile coffee shops:

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Thanks for that coffeenista, I'll check it out now.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great article!

      I'd like to share an article I found on the net as well regarding how to open a coffee shop.

      All the best!

    • Georgina_writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Georgina Crawford 

      8 years ago from Dartmoor

      Thanks Mike - If I were opening a coffee shop again, I'd seriously consider a drive through. Quick sales and low, low overheads. It's a growing market I think.

    • profile image

      Mike Chronos 

      8 years ago

      I think drive through coffee shops are perfect. Starbucks and McDonalds are making a killing from on the go business people who just want a cappuccino to go!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)