Cafe point-of-sale (POS) systems help small coffee shops and eateries efficiently manage counter, seated, take-out, and delivery orders. Cafes are usually high-volume and fast-moving, meaning business owners need a durable and sophisticated POS system that’s also easy to use.
Based on our evaluations, the best cafe POS systems are:
- Toast: Best overall cafe POS system for small businesses
- Square: Best free cafe POS
- ShopKeep: Best hybrid POS for cafes with retail sales
- Upserve: Best cafe POS for reputation and customer management
How We Evaluated Cafe POS Systems
We compared 36 of the most popular POS systems based on what’s important to cafes, including price, foodservice functions, general point-of-sale functionality, and ease of use. We also considered our retail and restaurant experts’ personal evaluations of each software.
Based on the above criteria, Toast is the best cafe POS. The software received the highest overall score according to our grading system for cafe software (4.55 out of 5). Based on our personal experience testing different POS software and working in and with small businesses that use POS systems every day, Toast is also one of the top software that we would personally recommend.
Toast: Best Overall Cafe POS for Small Businesses
Toast was created specifically for the foodservice industry and it shows. You’ll find detailed menu and order functions at your fingertips on Android-based register and mobile screens. You can tie ingredients to menu items to manage inventory, and even split inventory items to track measures and pours. And value-added features like online ordering, email marketing, promotions, and gift cards are built into the system, no third-party add-ons needed.
Based on our evaluation criteria of price, ease of use, general features, cafe-specific functions, and an expert score, Toast earned a 4.55 out of 5. Toast earned perfect scores for cafe features, ease of use, and expert score. However, lack of a free plan option and pricey add-ons (like for online ordering and gift cards) prevented Toast from getting a perfect score.
User-friendly, all-in-one system
Android-only (no iOS option)
Excellent 24/7 support
Mandatory installation fee (Remote or in-person)
- Software subscription fee: POS starts at $69 per month per terminal, add-ons like online ordering, loyalty programs, digital contactless ordering, and more available for an additional monthly fee.
- Hardware costs: Startup bundles start at $799 for one terminal, card reader, cash drawer, and receipt printer. Additional options for tableside ordering, contactless payments, customer-facing displays, kiosks, and kitchen displays available. Toast has 0% financing options available by application.
- Installation fees: Remote installation is quoted at $499, on-site installation is quoted for $1,500. These numbers can vary depending on your setup needs.
- Processing fees: 2.49% + 15 cents per transaction (swiped), 3.5% + 15 cents per transaction (keyed-in)*.
*Based on quotes, but can vary based on card type and Toast’s discretion. Request a quote from Toast for exact processing fees.
Toast Standout Features
Toast, and the other top-ranked POS systems on this list all have the features required to run a cafe including ring up orders, split checks, create and manage menu items, collect tips, and track sales. Here are some of the exceptional features that make Toast standout from the other systems:
- Flexible setup: With options for online and digital ordering, contactless in-store ordering, mobile POS, pickup and delivery features, kiosks, and traditional countertop POS, Toast can be customized to fit the needs of any cafe.
- Feature inclusive: In addition to traditional POS, Toast also has software for online ordering, takeout, loyalty, email marketing, payroll and team management, inventory, and more so you don’t need to add on other software programs.
- Easy to learn: The cloud-based, touch-screen POS is intuitive to use. Toast’s website has a robust training program called Toast University that walks employees through different features. The POS also has a demo or test mode to train new employees.
- Customer-friendly features: Cafe customers can order and pay online or from their smartphones with a QR code and link their card purchases to loyalty programs to automatically accrue and redeem rewards.
- Menu analysis reporting: Toast has best-in-class menu and inventory reporting so cafes can see at-a-glance what items should be removed and which ones offer the highest profit margins. Cafes can also track payroll and performance data.
- Quick service tools: Speed up turnaround times for breakfast sandwiches and coffee orders with kitchen display systems that are synced with mobile and online ordering. Text guests when orders are ready for pickup right from the kitchen display.
To learn more about why Toast is our top-rated cafe POS system, read our full Toast POS review.
Square: Best Free Cafe POS
Square beat Toast (and every other POS system) in the pricing category of our evaluation. Square offers the best value with free POS software and installment payment plans on hardware like terminals, registers, and card readers. Square delivers a full suite of sales, inventory, and customer management tools with unlimited users and transactions on a user-friendly system that will help any cafe startup or small eatery run efficiently.
In our evaluation, Square came in right behind Toast, with a score of 4.5 out of 5. Square’s free plan, user-friendly interface, and free online ordering earned this software high marks. Limited phone support hours and lack of customizable reporting prevented Square from earning a perfect score. In addition to ranking as one of the top cafe POS systems, Square offers the best overall POS system for small businesses.
No purchase order or vendor management
User-friendly touchscreen and cloud-based system
Limited phone support (Monday - Friday 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Pacific time)
- Software subscription fees: Square offers free POS software with no monthly fees. If you have a sit-down cafe, Square’s restaurant-specific POS system includes table and order management features. Square for Restaurants also has a free version, as well as a Plus and Premium plan for $60 and $299 monthly.
- Hardware costs: Every account comes with a free magstripe card reader. Chip and contactless readers are $49, Terminals are $299 and Registers are $788. Interest-free payment plans are available. Cafes can also run Square POS on iPads, iPhone, and Android devices instead of purchasing Terminals or Registers.
- Installation fees: Square is a self-install program so there are no setup fees. If you opt for a paid plan, free one-on-one remote implementation services are available.
- Processing fees: 2.6% + 10 cents* for in-person purchases, 2.8% + 30 cents per online order.
*Discounts available for high-volume businesses and businesses that purchase advanced POS software
Square Standout Features
Square has all the tools and features required to operate a cafe or coffee shop including ring up and process sales, accept payments, create menu items, track employee hours, and view sales reports. Here are some of the exceptional features that make Square one of the best cafe POS systems:
- Intuitive system: One of the biggest benefits of Square is that it’s incredibly easy to use. It works on a variety of hardware so you can choose the setup you’re most comfortable with. And, the touchscreen software and web-based Dashboard are easy to navigate and require no training to operate. Square’s built-in payments means you can create a free account and start selling same-day.
- Flexible ecosystem: In addition to free POS software, Square offers a number of other free tools that all work together including Square Online Store and Online Checkout for pickup and delivery orders, customer feedback tools, and reporting dashboards.
- Modular add-ons: Square offers plenty of paid add-ons in addition to the ecosystem of free tools, including payroll and team management, loyalty programs, marketing, gift cards, and upgraded POS systems. Businesses can add and remove any of these features at any time.
To learn more about why Square is the best free POS software for cafes, read our full Square POS review.
ShopKeep: User-friendly Cafe POS With Retail Features
Shopkeep is an iPad POS designed for small businesses. As such, the POS is simpler than more robust tools like Toast and Upserve, offering more templated reports and dashboards so it’s easier to set up and get running. However, even with a simpler interface, ShopKeep offers sophisticated tools like ingredient-level tracking, customized order modifiers, and time-specific menus so cafes and get all the core features on a budget price.
In our evaluation, ShopKeep earned a 4.38 out of 5. It’s an extremely user-friendly system with affordable plans and 25/7 support. ShopKeep does not have as many built-in features or customization options as Toast, and is more expensive than Square. It’s a great option for cafes wanting a plug-and-play cloud POS system with barcoding and templated reports.
User-friendly inventory and checkout software
Difficult to export reports / manipulate raw data
Affordable software and payment processing
Pricey to add multiple registers
Mobile reporting app
Currently no table mapping features
- Software subscription fees: ShopKeep offers three subscription plans ranging from $49 – $179 per month based on annual billing. Monthly billing is available for a higher rate.
- Hardware costs: Bundles start around $500 and include a credit card reader, receipt printer, and iPad stand. ShopKeep runs on iPads or Clover systems. Free bundles available with certain software purchases. Contact ShopKeep for a direct quote.
- Installation fees: No mandatory fees, most users can set up the system on their own, though remote support is available.
- Processing fees: 2.5% + 10 cents per transaction.
ShopKeep Standout Features
Out of the cafe POS systems on our list, ShopKeep is most like Square in the sense that it is not a product that is specific to the foodservice industry. ShopKeep is used by small business cafes, retailers, boutiques, and breweries. However, ShopKeep has all of the core features needed to run a cafe including taking customer orders, splitting and processing payments, managing menu lists, applying tips and discounts, and viewing reports.
ShopKeep’s standout features include:
- Pocket mobile app: ShopKeep has templatized reports that break down detailed inventory and sales information and make it easily digestible. These real-time reports are available on the ShopKeep Backoffice dashboard and through the free Pocket iOS mobile app.
- Hybrid retail features: Because ShopKeep is not a restaurant-specific POS, it has retail features cafes might need, like the ability to print bar code labels for to-go items, and set up online ordering for pickup or delivery with ShopKeep eCommerce.
- Marketing tools: Manage your online reviews through ShopKeep (powered by Yext), customize a points-based loyalty program, manage your Facebook and Google presence (including hours and contact information), and create email campaigns with Mailchimp.
- Excellent user experience: ShopKeep is consistently one of the top-rated POS apps on the Apple App store. The system also comes with 24/7 phone, email, and text support including options for priority support.
Read our full ShopKeep review to learn more about why it’s one of the more popular small business POS systems.
Upserve: Cafe POS with Built-in Marketing Tools
Upserve is a restaurant-industry POS built with customer relationship and reputation management tools in mind including aggregated online reviews and a sophisticated guestbook and logbook. The system was designed by former restaurant workers, so it is intuitive to use and has unique features that makes employees’ jobs easier like the ability to leave end-of-shift notes, custom checklists and questionnaires to complete during each shift, and forecast how many customers will walk in that day.
In our evaluation of cafe-specific POS systems, Upserve earned a 4.2 out of 5. Robust features, detailed customer management, 24/7 support, and a user-friendly touchscreen contributed to Upserve’s high score. However, Upserve is a pricey system, with one register starting around $100 per month with features like online ordering and inventory management costing extra. Upserve has outstanding customer management and marketing tools, which make it a great option for cafe businesses in tourist or other high-traffic areas, but it is simply too pricey for most cafes.
Built-in CRM tools for no extra cost
Employee scheduling and management tools
Outages and downtimes
Excellent 24/7 US-based customer service
- Software subscription fees: Monthly subscription fees range from $59 – $359, plus an extra $40 – $60 per terminal.
- Hardware costs: Upserve offers countertop and mobile POS along with contactless payment terminals, receipt printers, kitchen displays, and wireless routers. Hardware pricing is quote-based, but packages start around $200. Businesses can also run Upserve on iPads and Android tablets.
- Installation fees: Upserve offers a full-service on-site installation including menu setup, customization, hardware and PCI configuration, and data migration for $1,700.
- Processing fees: 2.49% plus 15 cents for card-present transactions.
Upserve Standout Features
Upserve has all the tools you need to run a cafe or coffee shop. However, Upserve also has some exceptional front-of-house, marketing, and reporting features that set it apart from other POS systems, including:
- CRM tools: Upserve has a built-in loyalty program, a guest book that creates a profile of each guest based on their payment method, and it collects data to show lifetime customer values and average tips. You can easily view repeat customers’ favorite menu items, and employees can add notes. Build marketing campaigns based on customer data and track ROI right from the Upserve dashboard.
- Reputation management: Upserve gathers all online reviews in one place so you can easily view, manage, and respond to online reviews.
- Online ordering: Upserve Online Ordering is integrated with the POS, so you don’t need to connect third-party solutions. Online ordering connects with your existing menu and loyalty programs so you can identify and reward customers and orders are sent directly to the POS or kitchen. Upserve Online Ordering has features for customers to schedule orders in advance.
- Team management: Upserve has server performance tracking and insights, a full-features training mode, a logbook so staff can add notes and insights at the end of each shift and/or fill out customized questionnaires and checklists. Upserve is also the only POS on this list that has a built-in employee scheduling system. Track labor costs, predicted cafe traffic, build schedules, and send them to your employees right from the Upserve dashboard.
- Restaurant analytics: Reporting dashboard shows labor costs, productivity, sales trends, and offers tips and insights on what menu items to keep, what’s underselling, average tips, and more. Discount and void reports let you spot trends. The Shift Prep tool predicts how many guests will arrive each day based on historical data and other factors like the weather so you can adequately prepare.
- Easy to use: Upserve has an intuitive interface, 24/7 US-based customer support, an offline mode, and plenty of instructional content on its website. When you are getting started, Upserve provides personalized onboarding, professional installation and training, and a dedicated support manager.
To learn more about Upserve’s features and why it’s one of the best cafe POS systems, read our full Upserve POS review.
Our top cafe POS systems all deliver a great core set of features that any cafe or small eatery can use to run their business efficiently and effectively. If you have a specific budget, Square is an affordable option. ShopKeep is a good choice for cafes that have a retail element and need bar code printing. Upserve has excellent customer and employee management tools. However, for most cafes, Toast is the best overall cafe POS system.
Toast received the highest score across our grading system for general POS features, restaurant-industry features, ease of use, and our own expert review. While it is not the lowest-cost system, you receive an excellent value for the software. It can be configured to fit the needs of any setup and can grow with your business as it expands or your needs change. Visit Toast for a demo.