It’s time we talk about… hygiene in coffee shops

Angela O'Donnell

June 29, 2017

The BBC published a story yesterday which identified occurrences of faecal bacteria in a number of UK coffee chains.

While the implicated businesses conduct internal investigations, we ask – is it time for the industry to review how design can be used to improve hygiene?

It’s not difficult to see how bad practices can creep in, causing levels of grime to rise.  When space is at a premium and a large team are working in a small area, cross-contamination can be inevitable. Flooring and fabrics are often selected based on aesthetics and durability over hygiene considerations. Fixed furniture allows a grubby build up and the steady removal of public conveniences has often rendered coffee shops as a sanctuary for passers-by.

But there is good practice out there too. Established brand Pret A Manger not only has shops that “look clean” – they routinely earn the coveted 5-star status for hygiene.

What can restaurateurs and chains do?

Use a “process-led design” approach to ensure that the layout is operationally sound and promotes good hygiene. This includes ensuring that equipment and materials are specified with hygiene in mind.

Ensure that rigorous hygiene and maintenance processes are implemented when a location opens, including regular training which accounts for staff turnover.

Use suitable materials where fixtures may come into contact with food.  For example, consider cove skirting in back of house environments to remove the risk of floor-level dirt build up.

Match the facilities to the offer – if you’re attracting young families, provide proper changing facilities and suitable furniture – and design out trip hazards which lead to spills.

Ensure that design decisions comply with up to date legislation.


For more information on this topic, please get in touch with our specialist hospitality design team.

Leave a Reply

Blog Archive