Coffee Shop Music: The Best Playlists Worth Listening To

What’s the best coffee shop music worth listening to?

Coffee shop owners should take care to select good music to develop a persona for their store. With a Starbucks on every corner, it is essential to use your coffee shop playlist to create an ambiance that will build your customers' loyalty.

How to Get the Right Coffee Shop Ambiance to Attract Customers?

A woman sitting at a table with a plate of food, with coffee and friends.

Offering a good cup of coffee, espresso, or latte is the foundational reason why your customers will keep returning. Always invest in good coffee, making sure you have the latest machine, high-quality coffee beans, and well-trained baristas. 

Having a friendly and helpful barista is extremely important. However, after these basics are covered, additional touches like the type of furniture and music will help your coffee shop become a success. 

The music you play in your coffee shop also plays a vital part in putting your store on your local magazines' favorite coffee shop list. Music helps to create a vibe that you can be known for in your community.

When deciding what background music (BGM) to play, consider the volume and variety to match the day of the week, weather, and season. What music you play will also attract different types of customers. 

For example, if you play easy listening music, your coffee shop may feel like a jazz cafe and attract older customers. If you play indie rock or hip hop, younger clientele may become more loyal. If you play instrumental music, customers may come to study and work on their laptops.

The Power of Coffee Shop Music

A woman buying coffee from a barista.

Did you know that music affects the purchasing behavior of customers? For example, fast-tempo classic rock songs may get people moving faster through the queue, while a smooth jazz playlist may prime people to want to purchase sophisticated products linked with a high-rolling lifestyle. 

The Association for Psychological Science published about these subtle impacts of music on customers. The premise is that the classical sounds such as piano music prime people to buy upmarket products such as higher-priced coffee beans and french press machines where a portion of the proceeds may go to charity.

In contrast, the upbeat tunes of Miles Davis could cause customers to go for different products. The study showed that customers with the most pronounced effects had limited time to make their buying decisions. 

While music will not change buyers' personal preferences, if you are trying to sell a particular type of coffee or product, think about the music you should play to help with your sales. For example, if you are trying to sell high-priced products such as coffee grinders then play the New York Philharmonic playlist. 

If you want your customers to buy more utilitarian products like coffee mugs then play soft country music. 

Recognizing music's power means that the playlist you put on, rather from Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, or a self-curated music list, is a crucial step every day. The bottom line is that your music choice can help you sell more.

Best Background Music for a Coffee House

To create a relaxing environment that is inviting, play laidback rhythms like Bon Iver's “Skinny Love” or his new song, where he collaborated with Taylor Swift on Exile. These songs are good choices for an indie rock or Americana vibe. 

You could even invite singer-songwriters to perform live once a week to develop a local ambiance to build loyalty amongst your clientele. Common among the top 10 reasons why people visit a coffee shop is for the vibe. Music is a big part of creating the right vibe that will attract repeat customers.

But for most days, you'll likely want to opt for soothing tunes like soft jazz music for the majority of the day. Then you can switch to bossa nova music or something more uplifting to play during your prime, high-traffic hours. 

Many people often will listen to their own music or podcast when they visit coffee shops. Therefore, playing music that is unrecognizable, international, or with few lyrics will reduce clashing with people's personal music.

4 Top Playlists for Your Coffee Shop

 Here is a list of some popular coffee shop music playlists available online:

A woman holding a cell phone and listening to a playlist.

If you don’t have the time to curate your own list, using one of the premade playlists will save you a lot of time. Be sure you choose a playlist that is at least more than three hours so that customers can’t tell when the music loops back through.

But you should also consider making the time to develop your own playlist. While this would take up precious time and resources, you can make it a collaborative effort. Try getting your customers to help you curate the coffee shop playlist for your store. 

By soliciting your customer’s feedback and advice on songs that could be added to the playlist, you’ll reduce the work on yourself while further embedding your coffee shop into the local community. You can set up a Spotify playlist and let people make suggestions or leave comments in a tip container by the cash register. 

Or you could run a social media campaign to get your customers to direct message you songs they want to hear.

Once the playlist is complete, share it on Spotify or YouTube. You may be surprised to find out that many of your customers may enjoy your music playlist at home as well as in your coffee shop. 

This will be especially true if they also helped curate the playlist. This could help build loyalty among your customers.

What Does Music Signal to Coffee Shop Customers?

A man sitting at a counter in a coffee shop.

In addition to affecting your customers purchases, music can also send subtle signals to your customers. Do you want to be known as the coffee shop that is good to study and read a book in? Or do you want to be known as the coffee shop to meet and have small group discussions? 

The music you play will create an atmosphere that will attract different types of customers. Think through your music choice with this in mind. If you want to turnover your tables faster, instead of jazz, play hip hop and pop music. This will set the vibe that the coffee shop is more of a fun meeting place rather than a study hall.

You could also set up a schedule, changing your music choice each day of the week and time of the day. For example, you may want to play classical music in the middle of the day when students might be taking a break from classes and looking for a place to study. 

But for the after-work hours, you may want to put on faster beats or even the local radio station playing the top hits. Then you can shift back to smooth jazz near closing time. 

If you set up a music schedule based on the type of customers you want at that time, you’ll make it easier on yourself and your baristas who’ll need to change the tunes daily.

Becoming the Go-To Coffee Shop in Your Neighborhood

Music will play an important part in developing your coffee shop's ambiance, and learning to adapt your playlist to the customers in your neighborhood is essential. For example, find out if there is a high population of different religions that might be practiced in the area. 

Then around the holidays, in addition to playing traditional holiday music, you can integrate holiday music from different religions that match your customers' preferences. This will help you generate more loyalty among your clientele and build a personal connection with them.

Asking your customers for their direct feedback is also a good idea. You could hold formal focus groups or informally ask different customers that you know well. 

Listening to their needs will help you curate a playlist that will make your coffee shop the go-to one in your community. 

After all, word of mouth advertising is still the best form of marketing. Your goal should be to get your customers to say, “I love this coffee shop!”