Must-have items for your café inventory

Michael Elligett

Regardless of the size of your operation, your inventory is one of the most important aspects of your café business. It consists of raw ingredients you need to create the products in your menu, as well as ready-made goods you’re selling in your coffee shop. 

Managing your inventory can be overwhelming and challenging especially when you’re just starting out. This is why having an effective inventory management is crucial to your business. By using a system to reduce errors and streamline the process, you can minimise spending and avoid the stress of overstocking or understocking ingredients and miscalculating stocks. 

There are different ways on how to effectively manage your inventory. Having a regular auditing schedule, implementing categorisation techniques like the ABC analysis, using the FIFO method to arrange your inventory, and many more. 

But before thinking about how you can manage your stocks efficiently, you need to identify what you should always have in your café inventory first.

What should be included in your inventory

The items in your inventory vary depending on your coffee shop needs. If you need some guidance on the most important things to include, the items below are a great starting point.

Coffee beans

Coffee beans should be an essential item in your inventory. It’s the core ingredient of your café’s main menu items, and it allows you to create high-quality coffee concoctions for your customers.

Some coffee shop owners tend to buy coffee beans in bulk. While it may be cost-effective, it’s not advisable as you will lose a lot in terms of quality. If you’re buying coffee beans for your inventory, buy in small batches more frequently. Buy enough that will last you for around two weeks to ensure that your beans will stay fresh.


Aside from coffee, tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. Although coffee is your café’s main star, having a diverse, high-quality tea offering is an opportunity to increase your sales and overall profits. 

By including tea in your inventory, you’re bringing another demographic into your shop. You already have coffee lovers as your regulars, so why not give tea drinkers a reason to become your patrons as well? 

Make sure to have standard black, white, and green tea, fruity, and herbal teas, so your customers have different options to choose from.


Milk is another essential ingredient when creating coffee or specialty drinks. When possible, offer both dairy and non-dairy options so you can also cater to vegan and health-conscious coffee drinkers.

Your list of dairy and non-dairy milk products might include whole milk, soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, skim milk, and coconut milk. 

Flavouring syrups

Customers want to have the ability to customise their drinks with different flavouring syrups. Providing different flavouring syrup options in your café allows your customers to enjoy unique coffee and custom-crafted beverages that they will love.

If you’re starting a coffee shop, consider stocking up versatile flavouring syrups in your inventory to improve your café’s coffee service. These syrups will help you put a twist on your tea, smoothies, milkshakes and special seasonal drinks that will impress your patrons and attract new customers.

Coffee condiments

Extras such as sweeteners, sugar, and creamer give your customers the ability to modify their drinks to their individual preference. Always have enough coffee condiments in your inventory to ensure your customers have what they need to enhance your beverage’s flavour.


A majority of cafe customers look for pastries and other food items when visiting a coffee shop. Engage with more customers and increase their order value by offering different food options that customers can choose from. 

Source ready-made food like sandwiches, muffins, brownies, and cookies from different vendors or suppliers. But if you’re planning to create baked goods or other food items from scratch, you also need to have ingredients like flour, bread and cake mixes, chocolate, butter and many more. 

Bonus: Reusable cups and straws

According to research, more consumers are starting to get conscious about their plastic waste and “they’re also trying to reduce the footprint of their daily coffee habit.” 

To cater to more environmental-conscious customers, include sustainable non-food items like reusable straws, mugs, tumblers and coffee cups in your inventory. By offering these items, you are supporting their advocacy while showing them you care about the environment. It’s also a great collaborative effort on the seller and buyer side in reducing carbon footprint.

Where to source products for your inventory

If you already have a list of items for your inventory, the next thing to do is find a reliable partner that will supply your café needs. 

Explore vendors and suppliers who can help you offer you products for your inventory and has shipping options available in your location. Keep in mind that aside from managing your inventory effectively, you need to make sure your supplier provides all the high-quality items or products you need and delivers on time.


Need a trusted supplier for your coffee shop? Click here to check out The Café Supplier's wide range of products.

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