WRITTEN BY: Jillian Ilao
Published April 26, 2017
Jill is a writer at Fit Small Business specializing on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.
This article is part of a larger series on Starting a Business.
The coffee industry has a ton of international coffee chains that seem to be taking over. However, there are still many entrepreneurs who are trying to compete by offering great alternatives to cookie-cutter establishments. If you are an entrepreneur who feels inspired to start your own coffee shop but clueless on how to name your cafe, we’ve gathered some tips on how to come up with cool and memorable coffee shop name ideas that will resonate with your target market.
Once you’ve chosen a name for your coffee shop, check out our guide to designing a restaurant website which comes with a professionally-designed template you can use for free with any WordPress site.
Maggie Aland, Fit Small Business
Use this restaurant name generator to have instant access to dozens of ideas for your coffee shop name. All you have to do is enter your name, the type of food you plan to serve, and your location and a long list of suggested establishment names will be automatically generated for you.
Many restaurant name generators just put together cool sounding or random words. However, in general, this is bad practice because you want people to instantly know that your business is a coffee shop.
2. See how your potential name would look on a coffee mug
When you’re opening a coffee shop, mugs with your shop’s name are essential. If you print your potential name on a mug and don’t like the way it looks, that should make it clear that the name is not meant to be. Click here to see how your name looks on a coffee mug.
3. Make the name humorous.
Julie Pech, Owner, The Chocolate Therapist
The name should be humorous because it’s easier to remember. People come in all the time saying “The Chocolate Therapist? Book me a session!” or “I need therapy” or other comments that let’s me know they like the name of the shop. I’ve also seen other coffee shops with names like “Romancing the Bean,” “The Ink Spot,” and “The Laughing Goat,” which are more likely to stick with people.
Nick Lucs, Work Pulse
You’ve already got the coffee theme, but these days that’s not always enough. It’s time to get creative and add an extra layer.
Whether you’re looking for a name of your own, or you just need a good laugh to remind you that you’re not the only punny entrepreneur out there, check out this laughable list of coffee shops that really went for broke.
- Bean There, Drank That
- Steaming Hotties
- Tea’se Me
- Has Beans
- Brewed Awakening
- Sacred Grounds
- Fleetwood Macchiato
- Deja Brew
- Thanks a Latte
- Whole Latte Love
- Espresso Patronum (only Harry Potter lovers will get this!)
- Espresso Yourself
5. Buy a .com domain name for your cafe.
Richard Harroch, Contributor, Forbes
After deciding on a name, secure the “.com” domain name for your business rather than alternatives such as .net, .org, .biz, or other possible domain extensions. Customers tend to associate a .com name with a more established business. It’s likely that someone will already own your desired .com name, but many domain owners are willing to sell the name for the right price. You can who owns a specific domain by using the WHOIS lookup at Network Solutions. Once you register your domain name, learn how to setup a WordPress website.
Also make sure to grab your desired business name on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
6. Experiment with word play.
Lorri Mealey, The Balance
Paula Deen’s first restaurant business was called The Bag Lady, because she and her sons went around delivering bagged lunches to local businesses. This is a great example of playing with words. Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck called his earliest restaurant Spago, (Italian slang for spaghetti.) Fun restaurant names are easier to remember and better for passing on by word of mouth.
Opening your own establishment entails emotional investment and sometimes owners find it fitting to name their restaurant after someone dear to them. Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s named his restaurant after one of his daughters. After trying all five of his children’s names for the restaurant, Dave decided on daughter Melinda’s nickname – Wendy. Today, Wendy’s is still one of the most well-loved fast food chains around the country.
Karen, Surfers Coffee Bar
Our cafe, Surfers Coffee Bar, is a non-profit coffee shop in Wahiawa, Hawaii, run completely by unpaid volunteers who love to surf, and exists to bring people together by providing a great atmosphere, amazing music, and coffee of the highest quality.
We are linked with another non-profit humanitarian organization, Surfing the Nations, whose mission is to meet needs and change lives through the sport of surfing and selfless service.
Cofax’s name came about from playing around with the phrase “coffee on Fairfax.” Once “coffee on Fairfax” was in the discussion, we started to talk about the Dodgers and how fun it would be if we had a Dodger theme for our shop. Of course, Koufax came up and we realized if we merged the phrase “coffee on Fairfax” we get Cofax, which coincided with our Dodger theme. From that, the name was born.
We are all Los Angeles natives, and Dodger fans, so for us it just sounded right and that’s what we feel was most important when choosing a name.
10. Protect your business identity.
Kiah Treece, Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
11. Name it after your specialty beverages and treats.
Sana Ale, Startup Guys
It is a very simple approach to name your name restaurant after the specialty item you want to be known for. This also helps people in knowing what is available at your place. For instance, a continental restaurant will have a sophisticated name whereas a place serving fast-food will have a trendy and casual name. A café can go with the name of its specialty beverage or famous cake or dessert
We chose the name “Thou Mayest” after we read John Steinbeck’s book “East of Eden”. It means “the way is open”. We use this as our “battle cry” because we believe “Thou Mayest” is more than a name, but rather, a movement of people who want to make the spaces they inhabit more valuable by, as Cameron Sinclair beckons, “design like they give a damn”.
We extracted the meaning of “Thou Mayest” to create our mission statement:
We believe that coffee and conversations are best shared over great drinks. We love the community that coffee creates and our job is to instigate energy and cultivate creativity through thoughtful care of our craft.
13. A winning coffee shop name has to have a positive connotation.
Susan Ward, Business writer, The Balance
Many words have both denotation (literal meaning) and connotation (emotional meaning). A word’s connotation can be positive, neutral or negative, depending on the emotional associations that people generally make. The classic example is the difference between “Mom” (which has a very positive connotation) and “Mother” (which has a neutral connotation).
“Rocky Mountain Cafe” has a positive connotation for most people, evoking sunny days skiing, hiking or just hanging out in a beautiful natural environment. Change the name to something like Sludge Town Diner and see if anything positive comes into your mind.
What it means to you is that when you’re choosing a coffee shop name, you need to choose words that have the positive connotations that you want people to associate with your coffee shop.
14. The name should reflect the cafe atmosphere you want to convey.
Walt L. Jones III, Principal, SEQ Advisory Group
If someone wants to start a coffee or internet bar, a name like “Wired” may be an option. If you want more of a lounge-type establishment where people could relax, have some great coffee and maybe hear some music, “Slow Roast” may be an option as it captures the essence of taking time and care. The point is, focus on the atmosphere and the message and the name will come.
15. Factor in search engine optimization (SEO).
Graham Winfrey, Staff writer, Inc.
Making your company easy to find on the search engine results page (SERP) is an important consideration when picking a name. If you’re going to use a proper noun for your name, you should think about how that decision will impact SEO. Choosing a common term like “Bell,” for example, will make it hard to place your company’s website on the first (or second) page of Google’s search results.
SEO is about getting your website to rank on the top of organic (non-paid) search results when a person does a search of your cafe.
16. Use location-based restaurant names.
Alyssa Burns, WebstaurantStore
By basing your restaurant name on your address, you make it easy for your customers to remember where you are when they want to return or tell their friends to visit. This can be just the street name, like South Congress Cafe, which is on South Congress Ave. in Austin, TX. You can even use your entire street address, like the Boston restaurant No. 9 Park did.
17. Make the name easy to remember.
Jared Miles, Writer, HubPages
The perfect name should roll off your prospective customers’ tongues. It should be easy to spell and pronounce, because the best publicity of a business can often be found through word-of-mouth. If adoring customers can’t tell all their friends about the great service they received at Joe Blogg’s Patisserie and Coffee Shop, they might just talk about Starbucks instead.
18. Don’t use obscure names.
Phil Davis, Founder, Tungsten Branding
Avoid making your business name so obscure that customers will never know what it means. It’s great for a name to have a special meaning or significance–it sets up a story that can be used to tell the company message. But if the reference is too obscure or too hard to spell and pronounce, you may never have the opportunity to speak to that customer because they’ll simply pass you by as irrelevant.
If people pass by your storefront, you want them to instantly know what they can expect if they decide to come inside.
Julia, Blogger, Dream a Latte
Start writing and make lists of all the names that come to mind. Make lists for feelings or ideas you want your brand to stand for. Don’t be afraid to write down words even if you don’t want to use them, because they may trigger other words. Since I love to be organized, I’d make multiple lists and keep what stood out on a single “namestorming page.” It helps to have your vision/mission, inspirations, and top name ideas all on one page. Make ongoing changes to this page until you find the right name.
The Internet has helped break all the rules when it comes to naming businesses. A good example of no rules when it comes to names is “Google.” If someone said they were going to name their company “Google” 10 years ago, we would have given them a strange look. Now that word is a noun, verb, and everything in between.
Andrew Hetzel, Coffee Strategies
Keep the image of coffee present so that customers can quickly identify what you do. Picture driving by a business at 40 MPH and seeing the name or logo. In the blink of an eye it should be clear that you serve coffee as a primary business. On the topic of logo: be certain that the logo is clear, not elaborate and has a crisp, easily identified color scheme.
22. Collect as much info about your business as possible.
Mary Ellen Spera, CFO/Market Analyst/Lead Copywriter, Parker’s Voice
When I craft a brand, I seek as much information as possible such as the owner’s name, type of service that differentiates it from others, theme, operating hours, what type of clientele, etc., and suggest names from there. For example:
- A Roma Java – it will be pronounced as “aroma,” but with the “A” separated it will list higher in yellow pages.
- Bottomless Cup Café – especially good for the establishment that has free refills and serves food too.
- Daybreak Coffee – good name especially if you only serve the early risers, breakfast crowd.
- Good Cup of Joe – straightforward; inspires trust
- Lava Java – good name for a coffee shop that sources its beans from the sides of volcanoes
- Mr. Green Beans – reminiscent of childhood especially for Baby Boomers who grew up with Captain Kangaroo.
- Quiet Coffee Corner – good name for a bookstore/coffee shop
- Whenever Coffee – good for a 24-hour Establishment
- Wise Ones Cups – good alliteration; good for an establishment which also sells newspapers and magazines
After making a very long list of possible names (it is okay to list some that seem silly or outrageous, as this list will be narrowed down, and after reading these outrageous names a few times over, they may grow on you), give the list to close friends and family members and have them choose the names they like. This will give you an idea of what names will give your cafe that frontline appeal, the kind of appeal that can make all the difference.
If you are really having a hard time coming up with any names, or if you find yourself stuck between a few good ones, invite a group over to discuss it over some coffee (how suitable)! Just keep sipping that coffee, the name will come to you!
24. Conduct a thorough search to see if the name is already taken.
Nina Kaufman, Lawyer, Ask The Business Lawyer
There are a few places that you’ll want to look to see if anyone else is using the same business name as you are. First, if you are filing as a DBA — short for “doing business as,” a term that indicates an informal business name that’s not your legal business name – you will want to check with your local county clerk’s office. Or, if you want that to be the name of your corporation or limited liability company, you will need to check with your state’s Secretary of State, which approves business entity filings.
Second, depending on your plans for your business, you may also want to do a trademark search. There may be no one in your state using the same name but someone in another state may be using it as a trademark. If you have plans for expansion, you could run into conflict and possibly be prevented from using your mark.
Over To You
We’d like to thank everyone who contributed ideas on how to come up with creative coffee shop names. We hope that these ideas will get your creative juices flowing and that you’ll have caffeine lovers lined up at your newly opened cafe in no time. But before you open your doors, check out our review of the top cafe point-of-sale (POS) systems designed to help you run your entire operation. Some are even free and have loyalty programs built right in — that’s a sure way to help customers remember your name!
Speaking of names, what’s your favorite naming tip from this list? Leave your comments below and let’s talk!