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14 Best Coffee Shop Franchise Opportunities for 2020

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If you’re looking to start a franchise, you can’t go wrong with a coffee shop franchise. In 2019, the coffee industry generated over $80 million in revenue. Americans are obsessed with coffee and most can’t start their day without a strong jolt of caffeine to their systems. With a booming industry hitting numbers like that, you can bet that your coffee shop franchise will be welcomed with open arms and empty mugs. 

But there are many coffee shop franchises out there. Which one do you pick? What coffee shop is best for your business and your location? Below, we’ve rounded up the best coffee shop franchises, along with their brand culture and various franchise fees.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and let’s get started.

1. Aroma Joe’s Coffee

  • Total Initial Investment:  $256,500 to $702,000
  • Royalty Fees: Ongoing royalty fee of 8%, ad royalty fee of 4.5%
  • Franchise Fee: $15,000

Aroma Joe’s Coffee was founded by two sets of brothers in 2000. If you’re based in Maine, New Hampshire, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, or Vermont, then Aroma Joe’s Coffee might be worth considering for your next coffee shop franchise venture. 

Aroma Joe’s strives to keep a smaller ecological footprint. They offer their services through drive-through units and walk-in stores range from as little as 50 to 1,200 square feet. This smaller-scale storefront is also a perk to help keep your real estate costs down. For first-time Aroma Joe’s franchisees, you’ll need to pay a $15,000 initial franchise fee. They also offer discounts for veterans. You’ll also need to have $50,000 to $70,000 in liquid capital to start. 

To request more information, you can submit a franchise interest form on their website.

2. Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffees and Smoothies

  • Total Initial Investment: $63,900 to $554,000
  • Agreement Length: 10 years
  • Franchise Fee: $30,000

Maui Wowi was founded by Jeff and Jill Summerhays in 1982 and has departed from the cozy coffee shop atmosphere. Rather, Maui Wowi offers a laid-back, Ohana-oriented environment with their tropical branding. 

This family-minded culture even extends to the franchise network, with one testimonial saying how Maui Wowi “is a collaborative system with a genuine feeling of helping one another grow, thrive, and be successful.”

To join their franchise network, Maui Wowi charges a $30,000 franchise fee. They also recommend that you have at least $40,000 to $50,000 in liquid assets. For further inquiries, visit their website to submit an inquiry form.

3. Dunkin’ (Previously Dunkin’ Donuts)

  • Total Initial Investment: $395,500 to $1,597,200
  • Royalty Fees:  Ongoing royalty fee of 5.9%, ad royalty fee 5%
  • Agreement Length: 20 years
  • Franchise Fee: $40,000 to $90,000

As of January 2019, Dunkin’ Donuts officially changed their name to Dunkin’, to align their branding with their popular caffeinated beverages. They want consumers to know that they’re not just the best doughnut retailer in the U.S., but that they also sell an amazing cup of coffee.

Dunkin’ was founded in 1948 by William Rosenberg and the number of franchises since has exploded. As of 2018, there are over 9,000 restaurant locations in the United States alone.

To join the Dunkin’ franchise network, you must have at least $250,000 in liquid assets. Their franchise fee varies by state, and you’d need to contact their team directly to confirm. The financial entry barrier is high, but you’ll have the resources and a beloved brand backing you.

4. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

  • Total Initial Investment: $183,250 to $615,500
  • Agreement Length: 10 years

Founded in 1963 by Herb Hyman, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is a favorite coffee shop franchise and retailer among Americans. This coffee franchise prides itself on selling only top-quality coffee. On their website, they describe how their coffee beans are sourced from “mountaintop to countertop,” using only the top 1% of Arabica beans found in East Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific.

From California, they have expanded to over 1,200 stores worldwide. You’ll find their stores in airports, university campuses, and even military bases. Their website doesn’t state a minimum liquid asset requirement, but they recommend that you submit a form to inquire.

5. Scooter’s Coffee

  • Total Initial Investment: $331,000 to $638,000
  • Royalty Fees: Ongoing royalty fee of 6%, ad royalty fee of 2%
  • Agreement Length: 10 years
  • Franchise Fee: $40,000

Drive-through coffee kiosks are making it easier for Americans to grab coffee on the road and still make it to work on time. Scooter’s Coffee is making this a reality with their many coffee kiosks popping up throughout the country.

Scooter’s Coffee serves delicious and responsibly sourced coffee to their customers, all from their 550-square-foot drive-through stores. Founded in 1998 and with locations in over 25 states, Scooter’s Coffee is actively seeking motivated entrepreneurs to open and run their own coffee kiosks.

To open your own Scooter’s Coffee location, you’ll need to pay a $40,000 franchise fee and have at least $100,000 in liquid capital. You can submit an inquiry form on their website to get in touch with their franchise team.

6. Cafe2U

  • Total Initial Investment: $109,146 to $154,621
  • Royalty Fees: $175 a week
  • Agreement Length: 10 years
  • Franchise Fee: $25,000

If you’re seeking an innovative coffee shop franchise with a unique twist, then Cafe2U might be worth considering. Cafe2U reigns as one of the world’s largest mobile coffee franchises. That’s right, Cafe2U is coffee on wheels.

Targeting mostly businesses and special events, Cafe2U serves their customers from a van, which is staffed with qualified baristas and delicious espresso. 

The initial franchise fee is $25,000, which covers the brand-new Ford Transit Connect commercial van that will bring coffee directly to your customers. To learn more, visit their website to request more information.

7. Biggby Coffee

  • Total Initial Investment: $186,850 to $369,100
  • Royalty Fees: Ongoing royalty fee of 6%, ad royalty fee of 3%
  • Agreement Length: 10 years
  • Franchise Fee: $15,000

Biggby Coffee was founded in 1995 and has expanded to over 200 locations nationwide, as of 2019. This coffee franchise is looking for more business-minded people to open and run stores in Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. If you want to bring Biggby Coffee to your community, head to their website to get in touch.

Biggby Coffee has also lowered their franchise fee by 50% to $15,000 in order to reduce startup costs and encourage entrepreneurs to start their own coffee franchise under the Biggby Coffee brand.

8. Dunn Brothers Coffee

  • Total Initial Investment: $385,200 to $609,600
  • Royalty Fees: Ongoing royalty fee of 5%, ad royalty fee of 3%
  • Franchise Fee: $37,500

Dunn Brothers Coffee loves transparency and that’s why they roast their coffee directly in front of their customers. This encourages a fresher and richer flavor with all their coffees. Like many coffee shops, Dunn Brothers Coffee also offers delicious pastries and baked goods.

The entry barrier for opening your own Dunn Brothers Coffee is quite high. In addition to a $37,500 franchise fee, they require all their franchise applicants to have $100,000 in liquid assets and a $500,000 net worth. 

Fortunately, Dunn Brothers Coffee offers extensive support to their franchisees. They’ll help you write a business plan and obtain franchise financing. If you’re interested in joining the Dunn Brothers Coffee franchise, fill out a form on their website.

9. Coffee Beanery

  • Total Initial Investment: $185,000 to $472,500
  • Royalty Fees: Ongoing royalty fee of 4%, ad royalty fee of 2%
  • Agreement Length: 10 years
  • Franchise Fee: $15,000

Coffee Beanery was founded by husband and wife, Joanne and Julius Shaw, in 1976. This coffee shop franchise, originating in Dearborn, Michigan, was one of the first to offer “specialty coffee” in their area. Today, they serve coffee, tea, and now bags of their own specialty coffee blends for customers to take home.

Coffee Beanery has nearly 100 locations open, most of which are located toward the East coast. The initial franchise fee to open a Coffee Beanery location is $15,000.

10. Cafe Barbera

  • Total Initial Investment: $187,000 to $305,000
  • Royalty Fees: 6% of gross revenues received from the previous week’s operations weekly, marketing and technology fund fee of $350 per month, $500 each month or 1% of your gross revenues each month, whichever is the lesser amount, on local advertising expenditures
  • Agreement Length: 10 years
  • Franchise Fee: $35,000

If you want to work under a family-owned brand with an extensive history, consider Cafe Barbera. This coffee franchise has been operating since 1870. That’s right, this brand is over a century old. Cafe Barbera has stood tall over the years by serving authentic Italian-roasted coffee with quality-sourced beans.

Cafe Barbera opened their doors for franchising as recently as 2004 and has since expanded overseas to Canada and Mexico. The initial franchising fee is $35,000 with a total investment ranging from $187,000 to $305,000. If you’re outside of the United States and within their operating areas, Cafe Barbera can be a coffee chain with a great history to join.

11. The Human Bean

  • Total Initial Investment: $211,625 to $738,375
  • Royalty Fees: None
  • Franchise Fee: $30,000

What sets The Human Bean apart from anther coffee shop franchise is that they don’t charge royalty or marketing fees based on a percentage of your sales. Rather, their revenue is generated largely from their sales of coffee and supplies ordered from their location. 

Their store locations are concentrated on the west coast, with many locations in California and Oregon. With their double-sided drive-through locations, The Human Bean makes it easy for drivers to grab their coffee and go.

If you intend to open a Human Bean franchise, you can expect their fees to start at $30,000. You can submit a franchising application directly on their website.

12. PJ’S Coffee

  • Total Initial Investment: $168,900 to $566,000
  • Royalty Fees: Unspecified weekly fee
  • Agreement Length: 10 years
  • Franchise Fee: $35,000

PJ’s Coffee boasts premium 100% Arabica coffee sourced from Finca Terrerito or Agua Fresca. Originating in New Orleans, this coffee chain has branched out to different states and even internationally, to Vietnam and Kuwait.

PJ’s Coffee’s franchise support system will help you with site evaluation, design and construction, and even training and education. Their superior support can be especially useful for first-time franchisees who need more assistance. Their franchise fee is $35,000 for a single unit but also offer discounts if you’re open to multi-unit opportunities.

13. Brioche Doree

  • Total Initial Investment: $250,000 and up
  • Royalty Fees: 5%

If Parisian-style branding interests you, then Brioche Doree is an excellent coffee franchise to consider. Brioche Doree leans more toward a cafe bakery than a coffee house, serving French-inspired coffee and pastries. Brioche Doree was founded in 1976, but only recently started franchising in 2013. They are aggressively expanding in the United States, because “the Parisian bakery style is low in competition,” according to Julie Hauser-Blanner, Brioche’s U.S. president.

If you’re interested in becoming a Brioche Doree franchise partner, visit their website to obtain information on the total initial investment and franchise fee.

14. Xpresso Delight

  • Total Initial Investment: $84,500 to $107,000
  • Royalty Fees: Ongoing royalty fee of $0.11-$0.15/cup, ad royalty fee of 1 to 3%
  • Franchise Fee: $37,500

Why sell coffee when you can sell the coffee system? That’s what Xpresso Delight is doing by using a “coffee-as-a-service” model as their unique selling point. Xpresso Delight delivers coffee to businesses through their automated gourmet espresso coffee system. 

Their mission is to replace boring office coffee with high-quality (and well-caffeinated) coffee products. When office workers are in need of coffee, they can visit the Xpresso Delight coffee system in their break room and pay by the cup. 

As a member of this franchise, you will arrange the delivery and installation of their coffee systems. For regular maintenance, you will also arrange cleaning of your coffee machines at least once per week. However, the initial franchise fee to join this franchise is quite high at $37,500. You can check out their website for more information on this unique coffee franchise opportunity.

What About Starbucks?

You’re probably looking at this list of coffee shop franchises and thinking that we missed a big one.

What about Starbucks?

It might surprise you that Starbucks is not a coffee shop franchise. Starbucks wanted to retain their company culture, which can potentially get muddled through the franchise network. For this reason, you’re unable to buy a Starbucks franchise. The company owns all of their Starbucks locations within the United States. 

Unfortunately, Starbucks and their twin-tailed mermaid logo is not open for franchising, but they’re not the only powerhouse in the coffee industry. Any of the above-mentioned coffee franchises can be a worthwhile business venture if you’re looking to start a franchise.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve long dreamt of starting a coffee shop but don’t want to take on the risk of building a brand from the ground up, a franchise can be a good solution. While there are both advantages and disadvantages of franchising, one of the biggest pros is working within an established—and successful—brand and business model. 

If you want to open your own coffee shop franchise, this list gives you excellent options to choose from. Finding the right location, brand culture, and business plan for your own franchise location is critical to your entrepreneurial success.

If you’re serious about starting a franchise, check out our guide on how to write a business plan. It will be useful to you when you need to apply for a business loan or run your business.

Christine Aebischer

Christine Aebischer

Christine Aebischer is an editor at Fundera. Previously, she was an editor at the financial planning startup LearnVest and its parent company, Northwestern Mutual. She has written for print and online on topics ranging from personal finance and insurance to luxury real estate and interior design. She has a degree in journalism and English from The College of New Jersey. Email: christine.aebischer@fundera.com.