I come from a city that is coffee crazy-- Vancouver. Not only is there a stah-buhks on every corner, but there are the "Waves" chains, the "second cup" chains, "Tim Hortons" of course, but local chains such as JJ beans (15 locations) "take 5" (over 25 locations) as well as the indie shops. Were not even talking about the stah-buhks kiosks in the malls, supermarkets, and bookstores, or the gas stations.
Brewed coffee is a loss leader. Yes, it's cheap to brew a pot and dispense 10- 16 oz cups, at what--$2.00 a cup? Disposable cup costs you, the lid, the sleeve, the stir sticks, the sugar and cream that the customer helps themselves to, and napkins. Watch people, they love to throw out half of their coffee in the garbage, top up with sugar and cream, make a mess, grab a buck's worth of napkins to mop up, and then leave.
The espresso drinks make money. A shot of espresso, milk-which is dispensed by you and the customer pays for, syrups, etc. which is dispensed by you and the customer pays for. But you can charge better, over $3.00 a cup, up charge with whipped cream, syrups, ice cream, and all that stuff
Without variation, every coffee shop here has b'fast pastries, cold beverages/pop, usually salads or sandwiches and impulse stuff like chocolate bars, snacks, etc. Oh, and free Wi-Fi. You need the other stuff to bring up the cheque average, and you curse and hate the free Wi-Fi. Because without variation, every coffee shop here has tables with solitary figures hunched over their device, a deuce or 4-top with one person and their stuff, nursing their $3.50 latte for hours. The only thing that gets them out is 3 people peering over their shoulder asking them if they're ready to leave.....
You need the volume to make money, but if you have the volume, you can make money.