Coffee shops doing double duty as plant and flower businesses are blooming across the United States, unfurling new flows of revenue for business owners while enhancing guest experiences.
There are notable similarities between the two items. Both come from the earth, they are often sourced from afar and nurtured locally, and they provide small but life-affirming joys.
Combining Plants and Coffee
“When we were thinking about what we wanted the place to be like, we wanted to make sure people started thinking of flowers not as something that you only get once in a blue moon, but something that was accessible to your lifestyle to have regularly, like going to pick up a coffee as a small treat,” co-owner Maya Gonlubol told DCN.
Like coffees in the shop’s multiroaster program, Kismet’s flowers are sourced from nearby operations, as well as from producers farther afield.
“There are little similarities [to coffee],” Gonlubol said. “We didn’t even realize when we opened this how truly similar they are. It matters where they come from, who grows them.”
Inside the shop, Gonlubol runs the flower program, while co-owner Jeremiah Kasner runs the coffee program. Yet the combination of coffee and flowers requires skilled hands all around.
“It’s super collaborative,” he said. “Conceptually, we’re working together. It’s the same values and vision and same entity.”
Creating a Retail Destination
The operational overlap is similar for the owners of Dandy Lion Coffee (Instagram), a coffee and flower shop in Denver.
When Duc Huynh and his wife Dominique opened the business as a stall in the Zeppelin Station food hall, customers started inquiring about the plants and crystals they used to decorate the space. When opening in a larger space in 2021, the couple took the cue and embraced plant sales.
“She concentrates more on plants, I concentrate more on the coffee, but there’s definitely overlap between the things,” Huynh said.
Each plant at Dandy Lion is hand-selected from a local wholesale greenhouse, with new additions weekly. Huynh said that having shelf-ready items, like bouquets of flowers or potted plants, can also provide easy gifts for shoppers who might otherwise be in just for coffee.
Michelle Buckman, owner of Blossom Cafe in Skippack, Pennsylvania, has noticed a similar phenomenon among shoppers.
“The two customer bases definitely help each other,” Buckman said. “”[They] definitely generate revenue for each other.”
Tapping Into a Green Environment
Blossom Cafe lives inside Floral & Hardy, a longtime garden center in Skippack. The combined retail idea grew out of Buckman’s own patronage of the local small businesses she’d come to admire. There was only one thing missing: specialty coffee.
Some renovations were needed to make it work, both aesthetically and to meet health code standards. The wooden Floral & Hardy counter became the register and espresso bar for Blossom Cafe. Seating areas were created upstairs and outside the shop to encourage guests to sit and stay.
“It’s constantly a beautiful setting,” Buckman said of the sunlight and greenery that surrounds customers in the space.
Dandy Lion’s Huynh said that beyond being aesthetically pleasing, the two elements in a single retail environment can also be nurturing.
“The aesthetic of a coffee shop lends itself to plants,” he said. “They both share the same ideals. Plants warm up the space, they provide comfort… You’d be hard pressed to go into a coffee shop and not find a plant in there.”
Coffee and Plant Fusion
Coffee shops with a botanical retail element can have fun infusing the theme into the menu. One example is the muffins at Blossom Cafe, which arrive to guests inside small terra cotta pots.
Owners told DCN that both sides of the combined retail business need to be engaged in concept creation and collaboration.
“Make sure there’s enough labor going to each concept,” Kismet Coffee’s Kasner said. “You have to love both for it to work.”
Similarly, anyone seeking to capitalize on the recent retail trends of combining coffee sales with greenery sales should have more in mind than merely dual revenue streams.
Mike Alvarado of Split Leaf Coffee (Instagram) in Bountiful, Utah, said plants and coffee can both serve to create a sense of belonging for anyone coming into the space. In Split Leaf’s case, the physical space is shared with Pistil + Thorn, a plant store run by Alvarado’s wife and his sister-in-law.
“A big motivator wasn’t necessarily to latch on to this idea that plants and coffee are this trendy huge thing that I have to jump on,” Alvarado said. “The idea of opening a coffee shop for my community was the biggest part of it… I’ve had people come in and say, ‘This is like my house and I love it.’ The more businesses that open like that, with the community in mind, the better we would all be.”
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Libby Allnatt is a writer with a passion for trying new coffee shops. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.