Working as a General Manager in a Coffee shop

So far, we’ve covered multiple roles in a coffee shop environment, including Shop/Floor Manager and Kitchen Manager.
In this article, we’ll look at the role of General Manager. 
This is it. The big one. The Captain of the ship. The General Manager. Outside of the owner, this is the most senior role in the business. They are the heart of the coffee shop and it is their vision that will dictate the direction of the business.
It’s worth noting that what’s required of you will vary depending on the venue you’re working in, but the core principles will remain the same. We can’t tell you what it is like in an individual coffee shop, but we can give you an insight into some of the things to expect.

The Role

Unlike the other roles we have discussed so far, as the title suggests, you won’t be assigned to a certain section of the business. You will oversee all aspects of the shop, and you are responsible for the success and the direction of the venue. Your responsibilities will differ depending on the size of the shop, however this is close to what you can expect:
  • Overseeing the day-to-day operations of the venue:
Don’t let this sentence fool you. It may be short, but it encompasses everything in the business. Although you will likely have managers looking after various aspects of the venue, you will still be overseeing their tasks in some capacity. You will also need to identify what is keeping customers coming in, such as menu items and service, and ensure they continue. 
  • Bookkeeping, maintaining financial records, and running deposits/loan repayments:
You will have visibility over the cash flow of the business, so you need to make sure the financial position of the venue is sustainable. This includes budgeting, salaries and managing any loans or expenses the business may incur.  
  • Solving problems and complaints from customers and employees:
Depending on the issue, your team may be able to resolve this on your behalf. However, larger and ongoing problems may require your intervention. As a general manager, you will have spent some time in the industry already, and will likely be familiar with the phrase ‘I would like to speak to the manager’. When it comes to employees, you will need to be very hands on in this respect.
  • Monitoring cleanliness and maintenance of the venue:
 Although you may assign this task to a member of your team, it is your responsibility to ensure these standards are met. Final sign off and responsibility for these tasks will fall to you. 
  • Hiring and training employees:
This is one of the best parts of the role, as you get to handpick the members of your team. You will need to interview and select your staff and ensure they receive any and all necessary training. The better trained your staff are, the better they will perform! 
  • Maintaining inventory, ordering, and receiving product:
 Certain members of your team, such as a kitchen manager, may take care of this for you however this responsibility may be yours. If this is the case, make sure you consult with your staff about what is needed. You will also manage the relationships with your suppliers, so be sure to keep them on side.  

What to expect

As general manager, you’ll need to get used to change. No two days will be the same and there will likely always be something that requires your attention. When someone needs an answer they can’t get from anywhere else, they will come to you. This isn’t as daunting as it may sound, it’s simply a chance for you to lead and solve problems to help your business. 
Your team will come to you for guidance and advice. If you can get them to buy into your vision, they will work with you to help make your venue as successful as possible. If you succeed, they will succeed too. In essence, your role is to keep everything moving forward and to grow your business as best you can. Expect to be juggling multiple tasks simultaneously, putting out fires (hopefully not literal) and solving problems – all within a matter of hours. It’s a fast paced environment, like any other hospitality role. 
Unlike other roles in hospitality, the expected attire is more professional. You are, afterall, the manager of a venue and you need to dress accordingly. 

Skills and Qualifications

This a role that requires specific skills and formal qualifications, such as:
  • Food safety certification and relevant certificates. 
  • Knowledge of current trends in the coffee/cafe industry.
  • Ability to prepare a variety of beverages and train an employee to do so. 
  • Basic money handling, finance and accounting knowledge.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Self-motivated and inspiring with strong leadership skills. 
  • Ability to prioritize effectively when faced with multiple tasks.
  • Availability during opening hours (may include nights, weekends, and holidays).
  • High school diploma or equivalent level of education. 
  • Previous experience in a management position (such as head barista, assistant manager, floor manager).  


The general manager of a coffee shop is a position that is as exciting as it is challenging. It’s an opportunity to develop key business and leadership skills that are widely transferable across multiple industries. It is a role that when done well, it can be incredibly rewarding. 
Be sure to check out some of the other posts on our page if you’re interested in finding out more about working in the hospitality industry. 

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