The best coffee shops tend to have a number of different features that help make them a success. Some are easy to recreate, others require more work if you are thinking of owning a coffee shop or starting one up. So here's a list.
1) Location. The best coffee shops are where people need them to be. This may sound obvious, but things like looking at where people gather, what are the main commuter routes into and out of your town or city all bring dividends in terms of having potential customers to get through the doors. You can also take the example of Serenity Garden Tea House & Cafe in West Palm Beach, FL.
2) Service. People are becoming more discerning as they work on a smaller budget but they don't want to give their daily treat up. So what keeps them coming back? Often as not, it will be that individual touch from baristas and others who take that little extra time to ask how you are, and ideally, remember your chosen coffee.
3) Design. The best coffee shops allow a flow of people which means steady income, yet channels them cleverly through the shop so there are not snaking queues which people are having to work their way through to get a seat. Carefully nursing your big 16 oz coffee while you step through queues and round laptop bags is a recipe for disaster on so many levels.
4) Atmosphere. Producing a good atmosphere is perhaps the least "scientific" thing on this list, and what people like in an atmosphere is wildly different. Warmth and friendliness are common themes, but types of music in the background and so on are very much an individual taste. The best coffee shops though, just have that vibe you can sense on entering.
If you are thinking of opening a coffee shop then careful thought about these four factors will give you a much better chance of success.