Cafe point-of-sale (POS) systems help small coffee shops and eateries efficiently manage counter, seated, takeout, and delivery orders. Cafes are usually high-volume and fast-moving, so 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 for small businesses
- Square: Best free cafe POS
- Upserve by Lightspeed: Best cafe POS for reputation and customer management
- TouchBistro: Best POS for small, quick-service cafes
- Loyverse: Best hybrid POS for cafes with retail sales
Best Cafe POS Systems Compared
Minimum Monthly Fees
Starts at $69/month
$59–$359, plus $40–$60 per terminals
$69 per terminal; quote-based for multiple terminals
Self-installation, quote-based upon request
Start at $799 per bundle
Chip, contactless readers at $49, terminals at $299, registers are $788
Quote-based, packages start at around $200
Bundled with software subscription or through third-party providers
Integrated Payment Processing
Built-In Online Ordering
How We Evaluated Cafe POS Systems
We compared 36 of the most popular POS systems based on what’s essential to cafes, including price, foodservice functions, general point-of-sale functionality, and ease of use. We also considered our retail and restaurant experts’ evaluations of each software.
Based on our evaluation criteria, Toast is the best cafe POS. The software received the highest overall score, a 4.55 out of 5, based on our grading system. Toast is also one of the top software I would recommend, based on my personal experience testing different POS software and working in and with small businesses that use POS systems every day.
Click through the tabs in the box below to see our full evaluation criteria:
20% of Overall Score
First, I looked at whether or not each software offers a free plan and a plan option under $75 monthly because small cafes are usually on a budget. Then, I made sure those plans include unlimited user logins, product listings, and transactions. Finally, I gave points to systems with integrated payment processing because it’s a more user-friendly and economical option for small businesses and assigned bonus points for volume processing discounts. Square is the runaway winner in this criteria, earning a perfect score and beating every other platform, even Toast.
20% of Overall Score
Every small business needs to track inventory, sell and accept gift card payments, and easily access reporting tools (like daily sales totals) from anywhere. Because of how businesses operate, I also prioritized contactless payments options, online ordering, and order-ahead features. Toast and Square earned the highest marks, with Toast earning an almost-perfect score because of its paid add-on features such as online ordering and gift cards.
20% of Overall Score
I evaluated features essential to cafes, including cash tracking and management, which is crucial for high-volume businesses. Busy cafes also benefit from templated reporting dashboards for easy viewing, barcode scanning for ringing up pre-packaged goods and merchandise, and low-stock alerts so you never run out of ingredients. I also required each system to have tipping options. All of our picks scored high in these criteria, with only Loyverse not getting a perfect score.
20% of Overall Score
Because cafes typically open early in the morning and operate on weekends, I prioritized solutions that offer 24/7 customer support. I also awarded points to POS systems with hybrid installation or an offline mode to work if your internet goes out. And I prioritized touch-screen systems because they are easy for associates to learn and use in a fast-paced environment. Toast, TouchBistro, and Upserve by Lightspeed got perfect marks for this category.
20% of Overall Score
Finally, I considered any standout features of each system and whether the software and hardware options offer an excellent overall value for its price. I also judged each system’s popularity and awarded points based on my personal experience interacting with the software and the company’s customer support. Square and Toast get my votes.
Toast: Best Overall Cafe POS
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-adding features like online ordering, email marketing, promotions, and gift cards are built into the system—no third-party add-ons needed. These detailed features, value, and flexibility also make Toast our top choice for the best restaurant POS system.
Based on our evaluation criteria, Toast earned a 4.55 out of 5. It received perfect scores for cafe features, ease of use, and expert score. However, the lack of a free plan option and pricey add-ons (like for online ordering and gift cards) prevented Toast from getting a perfect score.
Toast Standout Features
As our top choice for cafes, Toast offers a suite of key restaurant functions for an overall cafe-friendly software. It provides a high level of customization for its robust features, so the system can grow alongside your business. Toast’s standout features include:
- 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 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. They can 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.
What Toast Is Missing
Toast doesn’t offer a free plan, and essential cafe features such as online delivery and gift cards are paid add-ons, starting at $50/month—these can quickly stack up. If budget is a concern, go with Square, which offers a free plan and includes the earlier features mentioned. Toast is also not available on iOS devices. If you are keen to use iPads for your POS system, Upserve by Lightspeed is one of our top picks for the best iPad POS system.
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 a 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.
Square Standout Features
Square has all the tools and features required to perform necessary cafe or coffee shop tasks, such as 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 touch-screen software and web-based dashboard are easy to navigate and require no training to operate. Square’s built-in payments mean you can create a free account and start selling on the same day.
- Flexible ecosystem: In addition to free POS software, Square offers many 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.
Want more out of Square? Check out Square for Restaurants for more restaurant-specific features, including table mapping and kitchen displays. It offers both free and paid plans that work well for small coffee shops and high-volume cafes.
What Square Is Missing
Square doesn’t let you create custom reports. It also doesn’t provide 24/7 customer support. If making your reports is vital to your business or accessing help when there are system glitches because you operate a 24/7 cafe is crucial, consider going with Toast. It’s the only software among the five top picks that provides custom reports not as a paid add-on.
Upserve by Lightspeed: Best for Reputation & Customer Management
Upserve by Lightspeed 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. Former restaurant workers designed the system to be intuitive and have unique features that make employees’ jobs easier, like leaving end-of-shift notes, adding custom checklists and questionnaires to complete during each shift, and forecasting how many customers will walk in that day.
In our evaluation of cafe POS systems, Upserve by Lightspeed earned a 4.20 out of 5. Robust features, detailed customer management, 24/7 support, and a user-friendly touch screen contributed to Upserve by Lightspeed’s high score. However, Upserve by Lightspeed is a pricey system, with one register starting at around $100 per month and features like online ordering and inventory management costing extra. Upserve by Lightspeed has outstanding customer management and marketing tools, making it an excellent option for cafe businesses in tourist or other high-traffic areas. Still, it is simply too pricey for most cafes.
Upserve by Lightspeed Standout Features
Upserve by Lightspeed 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 by Lightspeed has a built-in loyalty program and a guest book that creates a profile of each guest based on their payment method; it also collects data to show lifetime customer values and average tips. You can easily view repeat customers’ favorites menu items, and employees can add notes. Build marketing campaigns based on customer data and track ROI right from the Upserve by Lightspeed dashboard.
- Reputation management: Upserve by Lightspeed gathers all online reviews in one place so you can easily view, manage, and respond to them.
- Online ordering: Upserve by Lightspeed 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 to identify and reward customers and send orders directly to the POS or kitchen. Upserve by Lightspeed online ordering has features for customers to schedule orders in advance.
- Team management: Upserve by Lightspeed has server performance tracking and insights, a full-featured training mode, and a logbook so staff can add notes and insights at the end of each shift and/or fill out customized questionnaires and checklists. Upserve by Lightspeed is also the only POS on this list that has a built-in employee scheduling system. Track labor costs, predict cafe traffic, and build schedules, which you can send to your employees right from the Upserve dashboard.
- Restaurant analytics: Reporting dashboard shows labor costs, productivity, and 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 by Lightspeed has an intuitive interface, 24/7 US-based customer support, an offline mode, and plenty of instructional content on its website. Upserve by Lightspeed provides personalized onboarding, professional installation and training, and a dedicated support manager when you are getting started.
What Upserve by Lightspeed Is Missing
Upserve by Lightspeed offers a set of sophisticated tools for your cafe—at a price. Online ordering, gifts cards, and customizable report features are premium add-ons to what is already an expensive monthly subscription. If an affordable option is what you are looking for, Square is your best bet.
TouchBistro: Best for Small, Quick Service Cafes
TouchBistro is our recommended POS system for small, quick service cafes. It supports various kitchen and customer display tools, a self-service kiosk function, built-in inventory tracking, and menu management features. Unlimited user logins and an intuitive user interface make TouchBistro an ideal choice for busy cafes with regularly rotating staff. Partner integrations such as accounting and online ordering aggregators are included in the subscription plan.
Based on our evaluation criteria, TouchBistro scored 4.08 out of 5, earning top marks for ease of use and cafe-specific features. However, the system’s limitations in terms of vendor and reporting features and its lack of efficient automation of its management tools prevented TouchBistro from ranking higher in our list. Cafe owners looking for drive-thru functionality will not find this system a suitable solution.
TouchBistro Standout Features
TouchBistro is one of the most intuitive and user-friendly POS systems for restaurants, so it’s easy for busy cafe staff to learn how to use the system. It also offers several outstanding features, including:
- Table management: Automate, design, and update your cafe’s floor plan easily to adjust for peak hours and busy seasons. Integrate with third-party online floor editors for a more customized design.
- Tableside ordering system: Add menu items with a single tap to an already existing order. Customize, reorder, or void items or an entire table easily with a few swipes or taps. You can also create pop-up modifiers to signal servers for available upsell options.
- Check management: You can split bills for a single table, join bills for multiple tables, and even set up warnings before closing a tab with unsent items. TouchBistro POS can also set tax inclusions or exclusions and apply customized taxes or discounts per item, order, or bill.
- Loyalty and customer relationship management: Create and manage customer accounts, set categories for regulars and recent visitors, and add notes such as customer interests and allergies. To send tailored email promotions in in-app messaging, use different filters to view your customer lists, including birthdays by month and average spend. You can also set customized rewards for each customer.
- Online ordering: Choose between in-house online ordering or third-party integrations, accept or decline orders in real time, and send cancellation messages. Receive online payments through TouchBistro’s in-house payment processor and send online orders directly to your kitchen display system.
- Reservation management: TouchBistro allows you to accept reservations through your website or TouchBistro’s web and mobile discovery apps. You can also use Google Reservations and Waitlist integrations. Set a cancellation policy and reduce no-shows by sending confirmations, reminders, and cancellations via email or SMS.
What TouchBistro Is Missing
TouchBistro lacks the management tools you need to run a busy cafe that handles a high volume of daily sales—Upserve by Lightspeed is a better fit. If your cafe offers drive-thru options, go with Toast. It is one of our top picks for best quick service restaurant (QSR) POS systems with high-volume sales.
Loyverse: Best Hybrid POS for Cafes With Retail Sales
Loyverse is our recommended solution for cafes that also need retail sales features. Its point-of-sale features support restaurant functions like menu customization and ticket management, while also providing barcode scanning and bulk inventory upload tools. And because the software is free and users need only pay for the add-ons, cafe owners will find Loyverse an ideal solution when working on a limited budget.
Based on our criteria, Loyverse earned an overall score of 3.75 out of 5, getting high marks for cafe-specific features and ease of use. Loyverse is the only free POS with a loyalty program. However, the system’s lack of integrated payment processing, online ordering, and limited customer support made it fall behind its competitors.
Loyverse Standout Features
As a cloud-based solution, Loyverse allows its users to take orders from any iOS and Android device. While its loyalty features are where this provider shines, it also carries more tools that cafe owners will want to see in their POS system. Loyverse’s outstanding features include:
- Loyalty management: Loyverse’s loyalty program comes free with the software where you can customize your reward percentage. You can enroll your customers into your loyalty program upon checkout, award them points on their first purchase, and convert their points into discounts on their next visit.
- Inventory management: The built-in basic inventory management lets you import items in bulk and track their quantities. Advanced inventory add-on features allow you to make products out of ingredients, perform inventory counts, adjust stock, print barcodes, manage purchase orders, and run inventory reports.
- Restaurant features: You can customize menus and add notes on preparations. You can also assign tickets to tables, with options to split, move, or merge items between tickets. Process orders accurately with the built-in kitchen display system.
- Employee management: The employee management add-on ($5 per month, per employee) allows you to track employee clocked hours, manage staff permissions, and monitor cash discrepancy after every shift. You can also run reports for sales performance and workload per hour.
- Reporting tools: Includes basic reports such as sales by item or category, daily and weekly sales trends, tax reports, and receipts history.
What Loyverse Is Missing
While Loyverse is free, you would need paid add-ons to enable online ordering, gift cards, and customized reports. Loyverse also doesn’t have a mobile reporting app. If having a free cafe POS is what you want, Square is a better option.
Our top cafe POS systems deliver a great core set of features that any cafe or small eatery can use to run its business efficiently and effectively. If you have a specific budget, Square is an affordable option. 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 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.