Music for Cafes: How to Create the Perfect Background Cafe Playlist
Music for cafes is about as important as the coffee, tea and pastries they serve. An essential part of any successful business, every high street coffee house, chic french-inspired bakery and beard-toting hipster hotspot needs the perfect music for cafes.
A good cafe can be the beating heart of a neighbourhood, there at the crack-of-dawn to serve up pre-commute caffeine hits or the place to spend a long weekend morning, chatting leisurely with friends over coffee and plates of food.
Consumers love a good cafe, they have their favourites, and make their orders to the familiar faces behind the counter day after day. Sure, the coffee is good but is that the only thing that keeps them coming back? The right kind of customer experience is key and music for cafes is a vitally important part of this. The perfect playlist for your cafe will create happier customers, energise staff during busier hours and create a warm, welcoming atmosphere during relaxed periods.
The perfect music for cafes playlist will not only encourage customers to enter but keep them coming back time after time. In this article, we’ll take a look at music for cafes and why every cafe should be making use of this powerful tool.
Music for High Street Cafes
Where would we be without the humble high street cafe? Their recognisable logos shine down on us promising fast, reliable coffee in familiar surroundings. A visit to the high street cafe is often quick; a brief stop for coffee, and perhaps something to eat, before heading off to a meeting, a train or a social occasion.
Customers in these kinds of cafes expect welcoming familiarity but also speedy service. They’ll order from the counter rather than being served at their table, and will need to remain energised, positive and upbeat while they wait.
Mornings and lunchtimes are often the busiest for high street cafes, when people stop by for coffees or something to eat. During these periods, businesses can maximise turnover by ensuring customers are served quickly, tables are cleared regularly and staff remain motivated. The music should therefore be familiar, positive and relatively high in energy for the time of day.
Taking the below two tracks as an example, the first, by Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys, has a sense of familiarity and positivity that would make it perfect for mornings at a high street cafe. The second, a soft, warm acoustic guitar track by Balmorhea, would work brilliantly in a quiet Sunday cafe but is too laid back and lacking in energy for this setting.
Justin Timberlake ft. Alicia Keys – Morning Light
Balmorhea – Dream of Thaw
Music for Bakery Cafes
Modern, comfortable and relaxed, bakery cafes are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance at present. There are those that lean more towards the high street, serving up sandwiches, cakes and coffees to the working lunch crowd, as well as more high-end offerings where customers queue up for a chance to sample the menu.
Opened in 2019 by Cédric Grolet, regarded by many as the world’s best pastry chef, his bakery cafe in Opera Paris is certainly a more high-end location. As somewhere that offers a considered, relaxed environment for customers, it works as a good example for the best use of music for bakery cafes.
Here, as with places like Bettys Tea Rooms or an established high-street chain like Patisserie Valerie, an elegant, relaxed customer experience is the focus. By choosing music that is slower and more luxurious in feel, these establishments could encourage customers to spend up to 40% more. If customers enjoy their experience, and aren’t in a rush to leave their table, they may stay for a second coffee or that extra cake.
Let’s take the two examples below, the first track would work well in a modern bakery cafe like Cedric Grolet or Patisserie Valerie. It’s pop music with an elegant, refined feel, it’s warm and relaxing but with a subtle touch of energy. Whether stopping in for a quick coffee or staying for an hour or two, this music is luxurious and intriguing but not alienating or over the top.
Asa – Maybe
The track below may work in some cases but, on the whole, is a bit too “out there”, too high energy and doesn’t have the right sense of elegance and warmth. It’s true that something French could suit the theme, menu and the atmosphere but always be careful to avoid cliches and think about what will fit your customer most.
Paris Combo – Moi Mon Âme et Ma Conscience
Music for Brunch Cafes
As social events, where friends and family come together for a long sociable meal, it’s very important that cafes pay close attention to their music for brunch. A hundred years ago, brunch was a luxurious affair reserved only for well-to-do Americans. Now, there are probably few places left in the world where someone would be hard pushed to find smashed avocados and bottomless mimosas on a menu.
With so many cafes serving up their own versions of brunch, the successful ones are those that not only offer good food but also the perfect atmosphere. Unlike the coffees-to-go and hurried sandwiches of the week, consumers head out for brunch as a way to unwind, have fun and socialise over food. Your brunch playlist should reflect this, combining fun contemporary music with intriguing classics. It should be upbeat and lighthearted but also feel laidback, calm and easygoing – this is, after all, a weekend morning… there may be a few sore heads in the house.
With the hugely successful London brunch outpost Jones & Sons or Soundsuit’s own client Kellerman Cafe, music is an essential part of the brunch experience. The atmosphere it creates is what keeps customers returning again and again.
Classic, well-loved artists like David Bowie and All Saints provide quirkiness, nostalgia and familiarity. There’s enough positivity and energy to allow people to unwind and relax but it isn’t overbearing or inappropriate for midday dining.
David Bowie – Right
All Saints – Pure Shores
More modern music like indie pop and nu-disco also works well, sitting comfortably alongside the older tracks, while creating a “finger-on-the-pulse” feel that ensures your brunch offering appeals to a wide crowd and that your cafe feels of the moment.
Lapsey – Operator
Yellow Days – Let You Know
Music for Coffee Roasters and Roasteries
Much like the brewery tap rooms trend that surrounds craft beer, a growing number of cool, young and creative coffee roasteries are opening up around the world. Scoring points for the freshness of their coffees, their independent flair and the unique setting of their spaces, coffee roasters are becoming increasingly popular destinations.
Places like Caravan in London’s Kings Cross, The Barn in Germany and Mazarine Coffee in San Franciso draw in a young, in the know crowd. This discerning customer base expects everything to be thought out, from the industrial chic design that many of these places adopt (often displaying the roasting equipment at work), to premium sustainable produce on offer and, you guessed it, a carefully considered background playlist.
With independence comes variety, however common music choices can still be heard across all of these businesses. As modern, stripped-back and multi-use spaces, a clean modern electronic sound can be a perfect fit. Music styles like trip hop and downtempo house have a relaxed background feel but, via the use of sampling, provide an intriguing and creative atmosphere.
HNNY – By
Folamour – Oyabun
Music for Rooftop Cafes
When the sun shines, there’s no better place to enjoy a relaxed coffee than in a rooftop cafe looking out over the views. Music is just as important here, the careful balance of sounds helping to exaggerate the surrounding views rather than distracting from them.
Again, much like a bakery cafe or a coffee roastery, the aim here is to provide a music for rooftop cafes playlist that encourages customers to stay longer, ordering a second coffee or a bite to eat. A successful rooftop cafe playlist is often one that compliments summer, the outside and good weather. If your cafe has a rooftop, try to choose music that has a breezy, laidback feel to it. Light, downtempo pop and electronic sounds are a good fit.
If your cafe caters to a cooler crowd, some modern laidback indie pop fits well. This track by Metronomy is a good example, there’s a subtle energy to the track and enough personality to make it intriguing without being distracting.
Metronomy – The Light
If something more well-known and pop focused feels like a better fit for your audience, consider opting for remixes of popular tracks. This creates a universally appealing atmosphere in the rooftop cafe but also ensures a touch of intrigue and personality within the playlist.
Choosing the perfect music for cafes can certainly feel like a headache. It’s enough to have you reaching for another cup of coffee. With a $24.95 monthly Soundsuit subscription, you can focus on what you do best and leave the playlists up to us.
Dua Lipa – Break My Heart (Moodyman Remix)
Music for In-Store Cafes
Often called “concept stores”, in-store cafes have emerged as a way for brands to create a tangible retail experience for customers that outweighs the benefit of simply shopping online.
The experience is a key focus at concept stores, where customers can shop for items, drink coffee in store and even, in some cases, have a haircut. These stores are an opportunity for businesses to connect with their customers on a sensory level, pumping signature scents into the store and playing highly tailored music playlists.
As a retail experience first and a cafe second, music for in-store cafes comes last on our list. While their offering includes much more than just a cup of coffee, it’s important to recognise just how essential music is in this setting. The background playlist needs to create the perfect balance between the retail side (often higher in energy) and the cafe side (often lower in energy).
Streetwear brand Carhartt runs a store in London that combines a coffee area with it’s usual clothing offering. Here, the music is cool and laid back, with the energy growing subtly throughout the day. During the afternoons, an indie-pop track by an artist like Tirzah provides a lightly energetic sound that sits nicely between the retail and cafe setting.
Tirzah – Holding On
How to Create Your Perfect Music for Cafes Playlist
From fast-paced morning coffee runs to leisurely weekend brunches, Soundsuit’s technology can not only help guide the music you play but also the correct energy levels for your space. Soundsuit playlists automatically change throughout the day to suit the mood of your cafe or coffee shop, it controls the songs played at each time of the day to set the correct energy, tempo and mood.
Each time you like or skip a song, or modify the mood, Soundsuit learns more about your preferences and needs, and adjusts accordingly. You handle the cappuccinos, we’ll look after the music – try out your own smart music today with a 30 day free trial.