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Café Food Safety and Its Impacts on Intention to Reuse and Switch Cafés during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Case of Starbucks

1 Department of Tourism Administration, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon 24341, Republic of Korea

Won Seok Lee

2 Department of Tourism and Recreation, Kyonggi University, Seoul 03746, Republic of Korea

Joonho Moon

Associated data.

Not applicable.

We explored the definition of food safety in the coffee service business during the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic because consumer values and decision-making may have been affected by the pandemic. The food safety dimensions are freshness, quarantine, hygiene, and healthiness. We evaluated the effects of café food safety on both the consumer intention to revisit a café and their intention to switch to other cafés. We used the Amazon Mechanical Turk system for data collection. In total, 474 individuals responded to the survey questions. We used the statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) ver. 20.0 and the analysis of moment structure (AMOS) ver. 21.0. We subjected the definition of café food safety to confirmatory factor analysis and then used structural equations to test the research hypotheses. The four dimensions adequately defined food safety. The results indicated that food safety positively influenced the intention to revisit, although it had no significant impact on the intention to switch cafés. Our findings will assist managers because we identify the implications of food safety for the coffee service business.

1. Introduction

Businesses must maintain friendly relationships with customer stakeholders; this is a key element of corporate social responsibility [ 1 , 2 , 3 ]. Bad food makes people ill; food safety scandals substantially damage businesses [ 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 ]. The coffee service sector must carefully consider these points; café business grew globally from USD 192 billion in 2020 to USD 244 billion in 2021. Safe food is imperative. Here, we define food safety in the café context and explore the impact of safe food on business. There is a vast body of literature regarding food safety [ 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 ], clean food [ 8 , 12 , 13 , 14 ], fresh food [ 9 , 15 ], and healthy food [ 16 , 17 ]. Such foods enhance consumer health and minimize risk. The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused a substantial enhancement of consumer interest in food safety [ 18 , 19 ]. Customers were at a high risk of disease transmission when eating with others in public spaces [ 20 , 21 ]. Thus, we explored quarantine as an unusual dimension of café food safety during the pandemic. Despite the importance of café food safety, there has been minimal research on what constitutes such safety or what beliefs are held by consumers; the present study explored these aspects.

The outcome variable was an intention to revisit a café/switch to a new café (i.e., opposite consumer intentions). An intention to revisit retains customers [ 22 , 23 , 24 ], whereas an intention to switch loses them [ 25 , 26 , 27 ]. We selected Starbucks as the research subject because the organization holds the largest single market share (approximately 40% as of 2019) of the café business [ 28 ] associated with readily available public data. Additionally, the popularity of the chain may encourage responders to relate individual detailed experiences. The present study adds to the literature on food safety in the café sector and provides information that café business managers will find useful.

2. Review of the Literature and Research Hypotheses

2.1. food safety and corporate social responsibility.

Food safety is a food-handling protocol that prevents consumer illness (perceived by consumers as a risk) [ 11 , 29 , 30 ]. Safe food promotes health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease [ 31 , 32 , 33 ]. Successful businesses both serve safe food and emphasize its safety to consumers [ 33 , 34 , 35 ]. Numerous studies have emphasized the importance of incorporating food safety into corporate social responsibility; this protects the principal stakeholders (i.e., consumers) [ 11 , 36 , 37 ]. The provision of safe food builds business sustainability, ensuring that customers often revisit; food scandals substantially damage business reputations [ 29 , 37 , 38 ]. Safe food is becoming increasingly imperative; customers prioritize both their short- and long-term health [ 30 , 36 , 38 ]. Indeed, consumers tend to pay more for food they believe to be safe, encouraging businesses to focus on a safe food supply [ 11 , 36 , 39 ]. Corporate wrongdoing (poor food preparation) leads to penalties; businesses lose market share and reputation, resulting in decreased share prices [ 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 ]. Food businesses must maintain good relationships with customers [ 30 , 37 ].

The first dimension of food safety is freshness (i.e., consumer assessment of whether food is properly cooked from raw ingredients); freshness is linked to sensory appeal [ 8 , 40 , 41 ]. Freitas et al. [ 42 ] found that such appeal encouraged consumers to feel that fresh food is safe. Rotten food is completely unacceptable [ 14 , 43 ]. Food freshness, which protects health, is the most basic aspect of food service because the associated sensory appeal controls customer impressions [ 13 , 14 , 44 ].

Quarantine is the second dimension of food safety; workers protect consumers from infections by wearing masks, frequently using hand sanitizer [ 45 , 46 ], and checking customer temperatures and vaccination cards [ 27 , 47 ]. During the pandemic, these practices were considered essential [ 48 , 49 , 50 ]. Specifically, consumers favored businesses with strict quarantine guidelines that protected customers from infection [ 45 , 51 , 52 ]. Customers eschewed eating in crowded places and relied heavily on food delivery systems [ 53 ].

The third dimension of food safety is hygiene. Poor sanitation increases the risk of foodborne illnesses such as fever, nausea, and dehydration [ 54 , 55 , 56 ]. Good hygiene protects food against chemical and biological contamination during production [ 56 , 57 ]. Good hygiene protects consumers [ 58 , 59 ] by decreasing the risk of contamination [ 9 , 12 , 55 ].

The fourth dimension of food safety is healthiness. Bad food promotes obesity [ 60 ], diabetes [ 16 , 17 ], high blood pressure [ 16 ], and heart conditions [ 16 , 60 ]. Indeed, bad food can adversely affect mental health [ 60 , 61 , 62 , 63 ]. The market exhibits increased interest in healthy food, and harmful items are removed during production; genetically modified materials and undesirable organic products are carefully monitored and traced, allowing the information to be shared with consumers [ 64 , 65 ].

2.2. Switching and Revisiting Intentions

In the marketing literature, switching intention refers to the likelihood that consumers will buy competitors’ products or services [ 26 , 66 , 67 ]. Consumer switching decreases sales and thus market share [ 25 , 27 , 68 ]. Many efforts have been made to understand and prevent switching. Shin and Kim [ 27 ] and Peng et al. [ 68 ] explored the attributes of switching intentions in the context of mobile services. Han et al. [ 26 ] defined the determinants of switching intention in the lodging sector. Liang et al. [ 67 ] evaluated the antecedents of switching intention among Airbnb users. Jung, Han, and Oh [ 69 ] examined airline customer behaviors, using switching intention as a dependent variable. Similarly, Nikbin, Marimuthu, and Hyun [ 70 ], as well as Kim [ 71 ], used switching intention as an explained variable in the context of restaurant business. An intention to reuse (or revisit) refers to the likelihood that consumers will repeat purchases of a specific company’s goods or services [ 23 , 72 , 73 ]. Intention to reuse is a form of loyalty that improves sales, market share, and business sustainability [ 22 , 24 , 74 ]. Many studies have regarded intention to reuse as a principal attribute. For instance, Son, Bae, and Lee [ 75 ] used intention to reuse as a dependent variable when assessing service agility. Li et al. [ 73 ] studied intention to reuse in the educational context, and Park [ 76 ] examined intention to reuse among airline customers. Bao and Zhu [ 24 ] used intention to reuse as a principal element when evaluating the behaviors of individuals who ordered food deliveries.

Several studies have provided empirical evidence of the relationship between consumer intention and food safety. For instance, a meta-analysis by Lin and Roberts [ 77 ] showed that food safety was significantly associated with consumer behavioral intentions. Wang and Tsai [ 11 ] reported that food safety was an essential antecedent of customer loyalty. Lee, Tsai, and Ruangkanjanases [ 78 ] revealed that food safety positively affected an intention to repurchase; Seo and Lee [ 10 ] found the same result in a study of street food consumers. Shim et al. [ 27 ] identified food safety as an essential consideration in terms of customer reuse intention in the café domain. Zhang, Ma, and Morse [ 37 ] and Wang et al. [ 79 ] empirically demonstrated that corporate social responsibility in terms of food safety positively affected consumer decision-making. Nguyen, Yeh, and Huang [ 80 ] found that a perceived risk of food contamination caused consumers to switch. Given these data, we proposed the following research hypotheses:

Food safety does not significantly affect switching intention among café customers.

Perceived poor food safety increases switching intention among café customers.

Food safety does not significantly affect revisiting intention among café customers.

Perceived good food safety increases revisiting intention among café customers.

3.1. Research Model and Data Collection

Figure 1 illustrates the research model. The dimensions of food safety are freshness, quarantine, hygiene, and healthiness. These serve as secondary elements when testing the structural relationships among food safety, switching intention, and intention to revisit. Food safety (a second-order factor) was hypothesized to positively affect the intention to revisit and to negatively affect switching intention.

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Research model.

We used Amazon Mechanical Turk to recruit survey participants ( http://www.mturk.com , accessed 7 December 2020). This method has been widely adopted by researchers of consumer behaviors, and many studies have demonstrated statistically significant outcomes [ 81 , 82 , 83 , 84 ]. Data were collected on 7 and 10 December 2020; we received 474 valid observations. The geographical area was constrained to the US. All respondents were familiar with Starbucks, which is popular in the US. Amazon Mechanical Turk adequately collects survey participants from the US.

3.2. Measurement Items

All measurement items were derived from the literature after a modification to match the aims of the current work, and all respondents rated the items on 5-point Likert scales (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree). Freshness is the consumer rating of food taste and the ingredients used [ 14 , 41 , 44 ]. Quarantine refers to how well a business followed COVID-19 containment measures from the consumer perspective [ 21 , 47 , 49 ]; hygiene refers to operations and food preparation cleanliness from the consumer perspective [ 9 , 55 , 85 , 86 ]; and healthiness refers to health-promoting aspects of café food [ 16 , 17 , 87 ]. Switching intention refers to the consumer likelihood of switching to a different vendor for future purchases [ 25 , 26 , 68 ]. Intention to reuse indicates the likelihood that a consumer will use a specific brand or product again [ 24 , 73 , 75 ]. Table 1 presents the measurement items. With the exception of switching intention (three items), all constructs included four items. The derived constructs were freshness, quarantine, hygiene, healthiness, switching intention, and intention to reuse.

Measurement items.

3.3. Data Analysis

We first performed a frequency analysis of respondent demographic characteristics. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to check convergent validity. As indicated in the literature, the convergent validities of measurement items were ensured by using multiple criteria (loading > 0.5, average value extracted [AVE] > 0.5, and construct reliability < 0.7) during confirmatory factor analysis [ 88 , 89 , 90 ]. We derived univariate statistics and engaged in structural equation modeling. Univariate statistics were used to provide general descriptions. We used the four dimensions of food safety (freshness, quarantine, healthiness, and hygiene) as second-order factors. We computed the squares of the correlation coefficients and then compared these values with the AVE. This approach ensured discriminant validity when the AVE was larger than the squared correlation coefficient.

4.1. Demographic Information

Table 2 presents the profiles of the survey participants: 289 men and 185 women. Age analysis revealed that 78% of the participants were in their 20s or younger or in their 30s (369 of 474). In terms of monthly household income, the largest proportion (138 of 474) earned USD 2000–3999. In terms of visit frequencies, most (192 of 474) visited Starbucks once or twice per week (40.5%).

Profile of survey participants ( n = 474).

4.2. Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Correlation Matrix

Table 3 shows the results of confirmatory factor analysis. The goodness-of-fit indices indicate that the results are statistically significant. All factor loadings are greater than the threshold. Both the construct reliability and the AVE satisfied the criteria for significance. Overall, the convergent validities of measurement items were confirmed. Table 3 lists the means and standard deviations of the measured items. Among the four food safety dimensions, healthiness was rated lowest and freshness was rated highest. The mean values of switching intention and intention to reuse indicated that most Starbucks consumers planned to remain rather than leave.

Note: AVE: average value extracted, CR: construct reliability, SD: standard deviation. χ 2 = 860.698, df = 223, Q (χ 2 /df) = 3.860, goodness-of-fit index = 0.836, normed fit index = 0.875, relative fit index = 0.859, incremental fit index = 0.905, Tucker–Lewis index = 0.891, comparative fit index = 0.904, root-mean-square error of approximation = 0.078.

Table 4 shows the correlation matrix. Food safety was positively correlated with the intention to revisit (r = 0.846, p < 0.05). Switching intention was negatively correlated with the intention to revisit (r = −0.158, p < 0.05). However, food safety was not significantly correlated with switching intention. Moreover, the squared correlation coefficients were less than the AVE, confirming the discriminant validities of the principal attributes explored.

Correlation matrix.

Note: * p < 0.05. The diagonal is the square root of the AVE; values in parentheses are the squares of correlation coefficients.

4.3. Hypothesis Testing

Table 5 illustrates the results of hypothesis testing. The results of the structural equation model were statistically acceptable according to the goodness-of-fit indices. Food safety exerted a positive effect on the intention to revisit (β = 0.848, p < 0.05), but it had no significant impact on switching intention. Therefore, only H1 was supported by the model.

Hypothesis testing.

Note: * p < 0.05, χ 2 = 895.550, df = 224, Q (χ 2 /df) = 3.998, goodness-of-fit index = 0.828, normed fit index = 0.870, relative fit index = 0.854, incremental fit index = 0.900, Tucker–Lewis index = 0.886, comparative fit index = 0.899, root-mean-square error of approximation = 0.080.

5. Discussion

We examined four dimensions of food safety (a corporate social responsibility activity) at Starbucks, as a representative of the coffee service industry. To ensure validity, we performed a confirmatory factor analysis; four attributes of food safety (freshness, quarantine, hygiene, and healthiness) were identified as relevant to cafés. In terms of means, consumers highly rated coffee freshness and hygiene. Consumers consider Starbucks products to be fresh; they presume that Starbucks food preparation and its beverage preparation are sanitary. However, the quarantine and healthiness ratings were slightly less positive. Customers may have perceived a small problem with quarantine; this was presumably because other customers did not follow guidelines in public places, although the employees wore masks and checked temperatures, and ventilation was good. Additionally, coffee consumption is controversial in terms of healthiness. In small amounts, coffee promotes health, but excessive caffeine and sugar must be avoided. The descriptive statistics indicated a moderately strong switching intention, along with a stronger intention to revisit. Café food safety positively affected the intention to revisit. Shim et al. [ 21 ] found a significant association between safe food and café loyalty. However, we found only a nonsignificant association between food safety and switching intention. Food safety did not appear to influence whether consumers may choose a different café. Unlike Nguyen et al. [ 80 ], who found a significant effect of food safety on switching intention for agricultural products, we found only a nonsignificant association between food safety and switching intention, possibly because cafés are very competitive and because consumers have many options. Thus, an emphasis on food safety alone may not be sufficient to persuade consumers to stay. In the café sector, it may be difficult (and costly) to retain all customers.

6. Conclusions

6.1. theoretical and practical implications.

This study contributes to the literature by refining the definition of food safety in the context of a café. We identified four dimensions of food safety and confirmed their relevance by confirmatory factor analysis. We provided insights into the relationship between food safety and customer loyalty (i.e., the intention to revisit). Food safety exerted a substantial impact on the intention to revisit, confirming the external validity of our current research compared with the approaches in previous studies [ 10 , 78 ]. However, food safety did not significantly reduce switching intention, possibly because there are many cafés among which consumers can choose. By revealing this distinctive coffee-consumer characteristic, the present study contributes to the literature on the intention to revisit and switch.

This study has practical implications. First, café managers must foster safety-related attributes to increase the numbers of customers. Fresher products and ingredients in terms of both coffees and side menus are necessary. Café managers also need to offer the freshness of information to customers by revealing roasting date and producing date. For some time, mask wearing by both employees and customers, as well as temperature checks and free hand sanitizer, must continue. Kitchens must be very clean; the visibility of the kitchen needs to be elevated because it could work as physical evidence for customers to evaluate food safety. Plus, offerings high in sugar and caffeine should be optional for customers with the increasing awareness of choices regarding caffeine and sugar levels. Customer revisits would then increase, leading to greater sales and a larger market share. Furthermore, café managers should allocate more resources to quarantine and food healthiness; consumers rated these areas slightly lower than freshness and hygiene.

6.2. Suggestions for Future Research

Our work had some limitations. First, we sampled only café customers; there are other food service sectors. The use of additional dependent variables may confirm the influence of food safety. Second, the food safety definition may be refined in the future to better reflect market characteristics. Such efforts would increase the broader understanding of café customers.

Funding Statement

This research received no external funding.

Author Contributions

Y.J. writing—original draft; W.S.L., supervision; J.M., review and editing. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Informed consent statement, data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Disclaimer/Publisher’s Note: The statements, opinions and data contained in all publications are solely those of the individual author(s) and contributor(s) and not of MDPI and/or the editor(s). MDPI and/or the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to people or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content.

  • Research article
  • Open access
  • Published: 03 October 2018

Cafeteria assessment for elementary schools (CAFES): development, reliability testing, and predictive validity analysis

  • Kimberly A. Rollings   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-3091-3340 1 &
  • Nancy M. Wells 2  

BMC Public Health volume  18 , Article number:  1154 ( 2018 ) Cite this article

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Strategies to reduce childhood obesity and improve nutrition include creating school food environments that promote healthy eating. Despite well-documented health benefits of fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption, many U.S. school-aged children, especially low-income youth, fail to meet national dietary guidelines for FV intake. The Cafeteria Assessment for Elementary Schools (CAFES) was developed to quantify physical attributes of elementary school cafeteria environments associated with students’ selection and consumption of FV. CAFES procedures require observation of the cafeteria environment where preparation, serving, and eating occur; staff interviews; photography; and scoring.

CAFES development included three phases. First, assessment items were identified via a literature review, expert panel review, and pilot testing. Second, reliability testing included calculating inter-item correlations, internal consistency (Kuder-Richardson-21 coefficients), and inter-rater reliability (percent agreement) based on data collected from 50 elementary schools in low-income communities and 3187 National School Lunch Program participants in four U.S. states. At least 43% of each participating school’s students qualified for free- or reduced-price meals. Third, FV servings and consumption data, obtained from lunch tray photography, and multi-level modeling were used to assess the predictive validity of CAFES.

CAFES’ 198 items (grouped into 108 questions) capture four environmental scales: room (50 points), table/display (133 points), plate (4 points), and food (11 points). Internal consistency (KR-21) was 0.88 (overall), 0.80 (room), 0.72 (table), 0.83 (plate), and 0.58 (food). Room subscales include ambient environment, appearance, windows, layout/visibility, healthy signage, and kitchen/serving area. Table subscales include furniture, availability, display layout/presentation, serving method, and variety. Inter-rater reliability (percent agreement) of the final CAFES tool was 90%. Predictive validity analyses indicated that the total CAFES and four measurement scale scores were significantly associated with percentage consumed of FV served ( p  < .05).


CAFES offers a practical and low-cost measurement tool for school staff, design and public health practitioners, and researchers to identify critical areas for intervention; suggest low- and no-cost intervention strategies; and contribute to guidelines for cafeteria design, food presentation and layout, and operations aimed at promoting healthy eating among elementary school students.

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National strategies to reduce childhood obesity include creating school food environments that promote healthy eating (e.g., [ 1 , 2 ]). In the U.S., nearly 99% of public schools participate in USDA breakfast and lunch programs that offer free- and reduced-price meals (FRPM), in addition to full-price meals, to students based on financial need [ 3 ]. Children consume as many as two meals and snacks per day while at school [ 3 ], accounting for 19–50% of their daily caloric intake [ 4 ]. Despite well-documented health benefits of fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption [ 5 , 6 , 7 ], approximately 80% of U.S. school-aged children, especially low-income youth, fail to meet national dietary guidelines for FV intake [ 8 ]. FV - along with milk - consumption is highly correlated with the quality of students’ diets [ 9 , 10 ]. Several studies found that FV are thrown away more than any other food item during school lunch periods [ 11 , 12 ]; among school children, 40% of cooked vegetables, 30% of salads, and 20% of fruits were wasted daily [ 12 ]. Considering that federally-funded meal programs feed more than 31 million students daily, the school cafeteria environment has great potential to encourage healthy eating.

A growing literature suggests that school-based environmental interventions affect health behaviors, including students’ selection and consumption of healthy foods. In addition to social, cultural, economic, policy, and psychological factors, school cafeteria physical attributes including design, display, and layout at multiple environmental scales can affect meal choices, especially when students are faced with long lines and short meal times [ 13 , 14 , 15 ]. Physical environment intervention suggestions to promote healthy eating include updating interior design; reducing crowding; creating attractive serving displays and seating areas; selecting appropriately-sized serving trays, plates, and bowls relative to desired portion sizes; and changing the way individual food items are prepared and presented. For example, attractive, well-lit cafeterias with windows and a layout that provides convenient access to healthy foods can affect eating behaviors [ 15 , 16 , 17 ]. Placing fresh fruit by the cafeteria checkout rather than earlier in the serving line is associated with an increase in purchases, as are well-lit fresh fruit displays [ 13 , 18 , 19 , 20 ]. Manipulating availability of healthy items; rearranging the order and placement of food items in serving lines; providing appropriate display and dining furniture; serving tray availability and design; manipulating portion sizes via bowl and plate sizes; and altering presentation of individual food items, as well as item packaging, all have the potential to affect food selection and consumption [ 15 , 17 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 ]. Despite the increase in research and design guidelines aimed at promoting healthy eating in school cafeterias, no comprehensive, reliable, or validated assessment tool exists to quantify physical attributes of school cafeterias across environmental scales, from interior design characteristics to individual food items. Quantitative data are needed to develop and prioritize evidence-based interventions and design guidelines for elementary school cafeteria environments that promote healthy eating.

The Cafeteria Assessment for Elementary Schools (CAFES) study had three aims: 1) to identify elementary school cafeteria physical attributes at multiple environmental scales [e.g., room (interior design and ambient environment), table and display (dining table and display areas), plate (lunch tray), and individual food items (e.g., [ 17 ]) linked to children’s selection and consumption of healthier foods; 2) to create a comprehensive assessment tool via reliability testing; and 3) to evaluate the predictive validity of the tool. Scores resulting from the developed tool were intended to highlight specific areas on which to focus intervention strategies and inform the development of low- or no-cost interventions that can immediately be implemented. By focusing on elementary schools, USDA-funded National School Lunch Program participants, and free- and reduced-price meal (FRPM) recipients, the CAFES tool would benefit high-risk and underserved FRPM student populations and contribute to younger students’ development of healthy eating habits. The following sections discuss CAFES item selection and development, reliability testing, and predictive validity analysis.

The Methods section is organized by the three distinct parts of the CAFES study: CAFES item identification (literature review, expert panel review, and pilot testing; CAFES part 1: Item idenfication ), reliability testing (CAFES part 2: Reliability) , and predictive validity testing ( CAFES part 3: Predictive validity analysis ).

CAFES part 1: Item identification

Literature review procedures.

Literature based in public and environmental health, environmental psychology, behavioral economics, and socioecological models was reviewed to identify physical environment attributes that promote healthy eating, especially among elementary school-aged students [ 3 , 13 , 17 , 18 , 24 , 35 , 36 ]. Literature included empirical studies, literature reviews, USDA reports, and existing environmental assessment tools (e.g., [ 17 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 ]). Although most literature focused on school cafeteria settings, relevant studies conducted in residential, food retail, and workplace environments were also included. A wide range of attributes within elementary school cafeteria environments hypothesized to promote selection and consumption of healthier food was identified (e.g., interior design, food presentation techniques), as well as novel features not commonly found in the literature but that may affect selection and consumption of healthier food (e.g., noise, student circulation, leftover food-sharing tables). Most identified features were objectively measureable, but some subjective items were included (e.g., cafeteria design attractiveness).

A 400-item draft assessment tool was created based on attributes of cafeteria environments hypothesized to affect healthy eating identified in the literature review. Item measures required school principal and food service manager interviews and an in-person “walk-through” or observation of the cafeteria areas. CAFES items were grouped into interview and observation items, and by space: kitchen/preparation area, serving area, and dining area.

Expert panel review procedures

During CAFES development, face validity was evaluated via feedback from five experts invited to review CAFES items for representativeness and relevance. Experts represented the fields of behavioral economics, nutrition, environmental psychology, human development, health, and design. Prior to reviewing the CAFES draft, each expert received a project description, a CAFES tool draft, a description of CAFES data collection and scoring procedures, and three questions concerning the representativeness and relevance of CAFES items:

Do CAFES items represent a range of environmental scales?

Are any key environmental attributes missing from the assessment tool?

Do you have suggestions for improving the data collection and scoring procedures?

Feedback was provided via phone calls, meetings, and emails, and included clarifications to, modifications to, and additions of specific items as well as training and scoring procedures.

Pilot testing procedures

Four researchers were trained to use the CAFES draft protocol by first coding 10 sets of example school cafeteria photographs. Coding discrepancies were discussed, CAFES item text and instructions were modified for clarification, and cafeteria photo evaluations were repeated until agreement was reached on all coding conventions. Once observers reached 90% inter-rater reliability (2 h), measured by percent agreement, they piloted the CAFES tool at two local elementary schools. CAFES observations included interviews with school principals and food service staff; walk-through observations of the cafeteria preparation, serving, and dining areas; and sketching and photographing those three spaces for further coding after completion of on-site interviews and observations. Initial CAFES observations required 45–120 min to complete at each school, depending on interview duration and whether students were present in the eating and serving areas.

CAFES part 2: Reliability testing


CAFES reliability testing was based on a cross-sectional sample of 50 elementary schools (3187 students, total) in New York ( n  = 16), Iowa ( n  = 17), Arkansas ( n  = 10), and Washington ( n  = 7) participating in the Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY) pilot program. The 2.5-year, USDA-funded, randomized school garden pilot project included examination of FV consumption in elementary schools (Wells, N.M., lead researcher). Cooperative Extension educators recruited schools from low-income rural, urban, and suburban communities; without a school garden; and with at least 50% of students qualifying for FRPM at the time of selection [ 41 ]. Trained researchers in New York and Washington and trained Cooperative Extension Educators in Iowa and Arkansas collected CAFES data. The CAFES study was deemed exempt by the Cornell University and University of Notre Dame Institutional Review Boards.

CAFES observations were repeated at participating schools using the Part 1 CAFES version containing hundreds of items. To determine which CAFES items to retain or eliminate, identify measurement scales and subscales, and assess the reliability of the resulting CAFES tool, measures of internal consistency, inter-item correlations, and inter-rater reliability were calculated. First, each CAFES item was dichotomously coded into negative (0 = barrier to healthy eating) and positive (1 = facilitator of healthy eating) point values using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows (IBM Corp., Version 23.0). Per Part 1 expert panel review feedback, binary item coding facilitated scoring and reliability testing.

The large number of CAFES items and modest school sample size precluded use of factor analysis to reduce the number of items. Therefore, item variability and inter-item correlations were calculated and served as criteria for item omission [ 42 ]. CAFES items were grouped according to each of the four environmental scales and themes (subscales) identified in the Part 1 literature review. Then, items with the lowest variability (i.e., an individual item with little to no variation across schools) and items with low inter-item correlations were omitted. Each time an item was omitted, Kuder-Richardson 21 (KR-21) coefficients, a measure of internal consistency for binary items [ 43 ], were calculated. The procedure was repeated until KR-21 coefficients of at least .70 and acceptable average inter-item correlations were achieved for the overall CAFES tool, four measurement scales, and emergent subscales [ 42 ]. Schools lacking at least 50% of items within any measurement scale or subscale were excluded from analysis of that scale or subscale (see Additional file 1 : Tables S1-S3, for school sample sizes – ranging from 20 to 36 schools – applicable to each CAFES scale and subscale).

CAFES scores (percentage out of 100%) were then calculated by summing all points and dividing by the total number of points. Scoring calculations were repeated for each CAFES measurement scale and subscale. Scores indicated how well cafeteria environments promoted or inhibited FV selection and consumption overall, and within each scale and subscale. Several CAFES items were also designated as possible “not applicable” items. For example, a school without a kitchen was awarded zero points once, but all subsequent kitchen items were deemed not applicable and associated points were deducted from the total points possible. Inter-rater reliability of the revised CAFES tool was assessed by calculating the percent agreement among at least three of four trained researchers’ CAFES responses at four additional elementary schools in a fifth state, not part of initial data collection.

CAFES part 3: Predictive validity analysis

Of the 50 schools that participated in reliability testing, 44 provided FV servings and consumption data via lunch tray photography (2506 students). Students who brought lunches from home (519 meals, 216 students); 82 students with missing, dark, or blurry photographs; and schools missing at least 50% of any CAFES scale or subscale items were eliminated from predictive validity analysis [ 44 ]. Two predictive validity analysis subsamples remained: 29 schools (1544 students) supplied complete CAFES items and 16 schools (1069 students) supplied complete items for the four CAFES measurement scales. Subsample demographics are displayed in Additional file 1 : Table S4. Additional file 1 : Tables S5a-c display FV outcome summary statistics for the 44 schools that collected lunch tray photography data, and the two predictive validity testing subsamples.

Constructs and measures

At the school-level, CAFES observation data, student population, percentage of students eligible for FRPM, percentage of minority students, and urbanity were obtained from the HGHY study. Urbanity, or whether a school was in an urban, rural, or suburban location, was determined based on U.S. census definitions of population density [ 45 ]. Individual student gender, grade level, FRPM eligibility, ethnicity, age, and body mass index (BMI) were reported by parents in a survey distributed as part of the HGHY study.

At the individual student level, FV servings and consumption outcome data were obtained by attaching laminated identification number cards to student lunch trays and photographing trays twice: once immediately after students were served, and again after they ate [ 44 , 46 ]. Digital Food Image Analysis (DFIA) software analyzed “before and after” lunch tray photograph pairs (Fig. 1 ) using school menus, cafeteria production records, and the USDA’s nutrient database. DFIA validity was previously assessed via comparisons to dietitians’ digital observations [ 44 ]. FV servings and percent consumption recorded by both methods were moderately and strongly correlated, respectively. Correlations were either comparable to or more robust than prior studies assessing dietary assessment method validity [ 44 ]. DFIA analyses yielded four quantities used to calculate FV outcomes for the CAFES study: fruit served, fruit consumed, vegetables served, and vegetables consumed, all measured in grams.

figure 1

Lunch Tray Photograph Pairs. Two examples of “pre” (left) and “post” (right) lunch tray photography pairs

Predictive validity testing included both FV serving and consumption outcomes. Distinguishing between foods available to students, foods students choose or are served, and foods students actually consume is important because factors affecting selection and consumption differ [ 47 , 48 ]. Although selection and consumption of fruits verses vegetables may also differ, only combined FV measures were analyzed. Combined FV measures addressed within- and between-school variations in the number of FV options available to students, as well as the number of allowable FV servings. For example, students could select two fruits and one vegetable at one school, but one fruit and two vegetables at another. Therefore, FV servings and consumption data were averaged from lunches on three separate days to yield two outcome variables: FV served and FV consumed. Percentage consumed of FV served (percent consumed) was then calculated by dividing FV consumed by FV served, and allowed for comparisons among FV items with standard serving sizes that varied between schools [ 44 ].

Furthermore, per expert panelist feedback, combined FV serving and consumption measures focused on FV “side items,” rather than both FV entrees (e.g., tomato sauce) and sides (e.g., whole fruit, applesauce, steamed vegetables, etc.). Finally, predictive validity testing examined foods, not beverages, for two reasons. First, beverage consumption from opaque milk containers could not be documented via photographs for DFIA analysis. Second, all students were served one prepackaged carton or bottle of low-fat milk. This packaging type creates a “natural consumption unit” [ 17 ] that can lead diners to consume the entire unit, also known as unit bias [ 49 ]. Although future work could examine associations between CAFES scores and student milk selections (e.g., flavored or unflavored), CAFES predictive validity testing excluded beverages due to the lack of consumption data and variability in servings.

Predictive validity was assessed using Hierarchical Linear Modeling software (Version 7.0; [ 50 ]) to determine whether (A) CAFES total and (B) four measurement scale scores significantly predicted FV servings and consumption outcomes (see CAFES part 2: Reliability testing results for measurement scales and subscales). The two-level data structure consisted of student level controls (grade, gender, and BMI; age was excluded due to missing data and high correlation with grade) nested within school level CAFES scores (A-CAFES total and B-four scale scores) and school level controls (percent of students receiving FRPM, percent minority student population, urbanity). The sample size did not permit exploring a three-level model (students within classes within schools). All variables, except for CAFES scores, were grand-mean centered. Two sets of multilevel models containing the following school-level predictors were run: A) CAFES total score and B) four CAFES scale scores. FV outcome variables included FV served and FV percentage consumed.

Literature review

Table 1 displays themes and four environmental scales drawn from the literature review that guided preliminary CAFES item selection. Numerous environmental attributes were included in the initial CAFES version so that the resulting tool could be used to assess widely varying elementary school cafeteria environments. “Room scale” physical attributes, related to the interior design of kitchen, serving, and dining areas, that potentially affect healthy eating included ambient environment, appearance, layout, and advertising. Table/display scale attributes described the appearance of furnishings, equipment, and surfaces from which foods and beverages are served and consumed [ 17 ]. Items included size, shape, surface material, and condition of tables, counters, and serving displays, as well as availability, display and layout, serving method, and variety of items served within serving and dining areas. Plate scale items included the size, shape, transparency, color, and material of lunch trays, plates, bowls, glasses, containers, and utensils [ 17 ]. Food scale items described the appearance (e.g., size, shape, texture, color) of individual food and beverage items [ 17 , 51 ].

Expert panel review

Expert panel review feedback ranged from suggested improvements to training protocols, observation procedures, and CAFES instructions to item adjustments and scoring. One panelist noted, based on prior work, that CAFES observations should not be completed when pizza is served as a meal item because students are likely to select and consume that favorite item more than others, regardless of environmental influences. This panelist also encouraged focus on side dishes rather than entrees, as most fruit and vegetable content of school meals is found in those dishes. Another panelist noted that some policies should be documented during CAFES observations as they have been found to affect eating behaviors (e.g., available time for lunch, whether recess occurs before or after lunch, and whether meals are prepared on- or off-site). Improvements were also suggested to CAFES items relating to general serving methods and the display and serving of milk. Scoring suggestions included dichotomizing results to facilitate calculations, which was implemented in CAFES Part 2. The CAFES tool and procedures were modified per the panel experts’ recommendations. Policy items unrelated to the physical environment, however, were not added to CAFES [ 37 ].

Pilot testing

Example photographs from pilot CAFES observations are displayed in Fig. 2 . Based on pilot testing, CAFES item order and procedures were revised for efficiency and to indicate whether items should be completed with or without students present. For example, measuring occupied dining areas was difficult and drew attention to observers, so revised procedures suggest those items be completed without students present. Pilot testing also revealed discrepancies between interview and observation data. Additional exploration revealed that food service staff needed to be reassured by both the Principal and CAFES observers that the environment – not the staff – was being evaluated during CAFES observations. Staff were then comfortable providing complete and accurate responses that did not conflict with observations.

figure 2

Example CAFES Photographs. Example CAFES photographs from school cafeteria dining areas (row I), serving displays (row II), serving trays (row III), and individual food items (row IV)

Additionally, item coding was revised. For example, the serving tray area (size) variable was recoded. Smaller trays were originally coded positively based on studies that found an association between larger plate and bowl sizes and increased intake among adults [ 17 , 52 ]. CAFES observations and interviews, however, indicated that smaller and less-sturdy serving trays (e.g., foam or thin, disposable plastic) were difficult for students to handle and may lead to decreased FV servings when students serve themselves , and lower FV consumption. Larger, sturdier reusable plastic trays were observed to be more appropriate for elementary school students to carry and balance while obtaining food. Results and the final CAFES tool, therefore, negatively code smaller tray sizes with a “0” and not a “1.”

Table 2 describes the schools and students that participated in CAFES reliability testing. Schools were primarily in urban and rural locations with an average of 391 students, 69% FRPM recipients, and 53% minority students. Missing student level data was especially challenging to obtain, as indicated by missing data.

Brief descriptions of the final 198 CAFES items (grouped into 108 questions) relevant to FV selection and consumption based on reliability testing are provided in Table 3 . Table 3 identifies the four CAFES measurement scales that address four environmental levels (room, table/display, plate, and food), six room subscales (ambient environment, appearance, window characteristics, layout and visibility, signage promoting healthy eating and physical activity, and kitchen and serving area-specific attributes), and five table/display subscales (eating area furniture; meal item availability; meal item display, layout, and presentation; serving method; and meal item variety) that resulted from reliability testing. No reliable plate or food subscales emerged based on testing. Example excluded items that did not meet selection criteria and items beyond the scope of CAFES are also noted. Additional files 2 and 3 contain the final CAFES tool and scoring procedures.

Table 4 displays CAFES scores (total, four measurement scales, and subscales), descriptive statistics, and internal consistency results (KR-21 coefficients). KR-21 coefficients exceeded the 0.70 threshold for the total CAFES score (0.88) and the room, table/display, and plate scales ( > 0.70). The 51% mean total CAFES score (range of 35–64%, out of 100%) indicated that CAFES schools could benefit from additional environmental supports of healthy eating behaviors. Few studies have examined the relationship between room scale items in school cafeteria settings and healthy eating outcomes among children. CAFES schools scored highest, on average, at the room scale. Because changing room scale attributes such as ventilation systems, floor plans, and natural and artificial lighting can be expensive, room scale scores suggest that CAFES schools might benefit from less expensive interventions at other environmental scales. Averaging only 43%, CAFES schools would benefit most from table/display scale interventions.

The food scale did not reach the .70 KR-21 threshold and was only moderately reliable (0.58), likely due to the exclusion of student-level moderators such as food quality perceptions and preferences (see Discussion ). Other assessment tools focusing specifically on the food and beverage environment that capture these items (e.g., [ 53 ]) are needed when targeting improvements to individual food items. Subscale reliability analyses also revealed that the healthy signage (room scale), furniture (table/display scale), and serving method (table/display scale) subscales did not meet the 0.70 KR-21 criterion, likely due to a lack of variability between observed schools for these items. For example, CAFES cafeterias used a few types of standard cafeteria tables and seating that facilitated quick set-up, removal, and cleaning. CAFES schools could, however, be compared to other schools that offer more home-like or alternative furniture options. The subscales were retained in the final CAFES version due to prior research suggesting associations between these items and eating behaviors.

With the exception of the plate scale, mean inter-item correlations within the other three CAFES measurement scales and subscales were low. Low or insignificant Pearson correlations indicated that items within each scale and subscale were, in fact, measuring separate constructs. Inter-item correlation matrices are presented in Additional file 1 : Tables S1-S3. Inter-rater reliability of the final CAFES tool, determined using percent agreement, was 90%.

Predictive validity analyses examined whether CAFES scores were associated with FV servings and consumption data. Overall, students served and consumed more fruit than vegetables. Unlike college students found to consume, on average, 92% of foods they serve themselves [ 52 , 54 ], elementary school students in this study only consumed, on average, 52–65% of the FV served (Additional file 1 : Tables S5a-c). Students in the two predictive validity analyses subsamples (29 and 16 schools) served and consumed higher amounts of FV when compared to all schools that provided lunch tray photography data (44 schools; Additional file 1 : Tables S5a-c).

The amount of variance explained by CAFES scores, an indicator of CAFES effect size, was calculated for all predictive validity models. Fully unconditional and partially conditional model results are displayed in Additional file 1 : Tables S6a-b, S7a-b, and S8a-b. Fully unconditional model results indicated significant differences in FV serving and percent consumed ( p  < 0.05 for all γ 00 intercept coefficients), and that there was still unexplained variance in all outcomes at the school level ( p  < 0.05 for all school level μ 0j variance components). Partially conditional models including control variables also contained significant unexplained variance. Urbanity and student population were excluded from final models as neither were significant. Missing student level gender and BMI data precluded inclusion of these variables in analyses, resulting in models that accounted for little to no within-student variance, but school-level variance components were significant for all models.


Total CAFES scores significantly predicted FV percentage consumed, but not FV served. A one percentage point increase in total CAFES score was significantly associated with an average 0.92% - or 1.62 g (50 g is approximately one FV serving [ 55 ]) - increase in FV percentage consumed ( p  < 0.05), when controlling for grade level, percent FRPM, and percent minority (Table 5 ). Total CAFES score accounted for 13% of the between-school variance in FV percentage consumed (Additional file 1 : Table S9), likely due to the relatively limited variability among CAFES items within in this sample. FV serving outcomes were not significantly predicted by total CAFES scores because serving-specific outcomes are likely associated with serving area-specific CAFES items.

Four CAFES measurement scales

An increase in the four-point plate scale score was significantly associated with an increase in FV served (Table 6 ; p  < 0.05). This result suggests that larger, sturdier trays in a variety of colors, as well as availability of appropriate utensils, are associated with increased FV servings. All four CAFES measurement scale scores were significant predictors of FV percentage consumed (Table 7 ; p  < 0.05). One percentage point increases in room, table/display, and food scale scores were associated with 0.72%, 1.34%, and 0.44% increases in FV percentage consumed, respectively (Table 7 ; p  < 0.05). An increase in plate scale score was associated with a 0.24% decrease in FV percentage consumed.

The four CAFES scale scores in fully conditional models accounted for a total of 26% of the school-level variance in FV percentage consumed (Additional file 1 : Table S10). A one percentage point increase in table/display scale score was associated with the largest increase in FV percentage consumed (1.34%), followed by room scale (0.72%), and food scale (0.44%). The strong association between the table/display scale was consistent with prior research findings that availability and accessibility are among the strongest predictors of dietary intake [ 17 , 20 , 23 ].

The negative association between plate scale score and FV percentage consumed (γ = −0.24, p  = .03) was likely attributed to school level differences in FV offerings. Schools with higher plate scale scores -- associated with increased FV servings (Table 6 ) -- tended to offer more FV and allowed students to choose and serve FV themselves. The association between plate scale score and FV consumed, although not significant (γ = 26.81, SE  = 37.22, p  > .05), was positive indicating that students in those schools did consume more FV overall. However, students in those schools did not consume a larger percentage of the FV served when compared to schools with smaller, less sturdy trays and decreased FV offerings and choices given the significant negative association between plate scale score and FV percentage consumed (Table 7 ). Additional research is needed to establish whether the higher amounts of FV served or the plate scale variables contributed to this negative association.

Covariate results revealed that higher percentages of FRPM students at the school level were significantly associated with increases in FV served (Table 6 ; p  < .05), but not consumed. A one percentage point increase in minority student population, however, was associated with a 0.34% reduction in FV percentage consumed (Table 7 ; p  < .05). This result suggested that, although schools with higher participation in FRPM may serve more FV due to stronger wellness policies [ 13 , 56 ], environmental variations captured by CAFES items, food quality, food preferences, role modeling, or nutrition education [ 57 , 58 ] may contribute to lower FV percentages consumed in schools with larger percentages of minority students.

CAFES is the first comprehensive objective, reliable, and validated assessment tool that quantifies physical attributes of elementary school cafeterias linked to selection and consumption of FV. Internal consistency and inter-rater reliability were established across all four CAFES measurement scales, and predictive validity of FV servings and consumption was evaluated. CAFES development and testing addressed five gaps in the literature. First, although several studies have examined school food environments [ 2 ], studies addressing associations between “room scale” cafeteria design elements and eating behaviors are limited. By addressing physical attributes at multiple environmental scales, from individual food item to the design of preparation, serving, and dining areas, CAFES builds upon existing assessments that focus on, for example, nutritional aspects of the food environment [ 59 ]; economics, policy, and sociocultural factors [ 37 ]; and serving, presentation, and display items (e.g., Smarter Lunch Room Scorecards, http://smarterlunchrooms.org/resources ).

Second, the predictive validity of CAFES was assessed using both FV servings and consumption data. Healthy selections are only successful if actually consumed. Environmental factors that affect food selection also differ from those that affect consumption. FV selection is affected by factors such as availability, presentation, and serving method (whether a choice is offered or not). Consumption is a function of not only choice, but also room, table/display, plate, and food scale factors [ 17 ]. Third, CAFES was validated by objective, quantitative FV servings and consumption data gathered via lunch tray photography, rather than self-report or other more subjective measures of children’s dietary intake that are unreliable [ 60 , 61 , 62 ]. CAFES predictive validity estimates, although small and potentially biased from missing data, are likely conservative. Because students in the predictive validity subsamples served and consumed more FV than the overall sample, schools with lower FV servings and consumption that would likely benefit most from CAFES assessment and recommended interventions were excluded from the predictive validity analysis.

Fourth, CAFES focuses on elementary school-aged children. Many food decisions, particularly for young children, occur within cafeterias. Both dietary intake and physical activity patterns established early in life likely influence long-term health [ 7 ]. Research suggests that school-based environmental interventions, such as increasing students’ FV consumption [ 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 ], can affect health behaviors that both reduce FV waste and set students on positive, healthy life-course trajectories [ 63 , 64 ].

Fifth, CAFES focuses on elementary school cafeterias within low-income communities that often cannot implement common intervention suggestions for older children and adults targeting portion size, payment and pricing, or increasing number of meal item choices. Federally-funded meal programs regulate the portion sizes of meal items. FRPM participants who cannot afford to purchase additional items are limited to serving and consuming only the provided FRPM options. Elementary schools also typically have students pay for meals with prepaid accounts monitored by meal cards that debit meal costs in daily cafeteria lines [ 65 ]. Payment and pricing strategies, such as requiring the use of cash to pay for unhealthy items [ 19 ], cannot be used when schools do not accept cash. Furthermore, in schools with 100% of students receiving free meals, cards are used only to record students’ receipt of meals and no money is exchanged. Individual food and beverage item prices are not displayed or relevant to students’ meal selections. Moreover, not all schools offer students meal choices – a factor that affects food decisions [ 66 ] - especially when all students receive a free meal [ 66 ]. These factors render intervention suggestions related to portion size, payment and pricing, and encouraging healthy choices inapplicable to many elementary schools in low-income communities. CAFES scores, however, suggest alternative intervention strategies – many of which are low- or no-cost and can immediately be implemented - aimed at improving healthy eating among elementary school students.


CAFES’ limitations related to research design, FV data, and exclusion of moderating factors. CAFES development was based on a sample of elementary schools from four U.S. states with high percentages of FRPM recipients, thus findings may not generalize to other schools or regions. The cross-sectional CAFES sample also precludes causal conclusions. Limited variability among some CAFES items also affected reliability and validity estimates. CAFES also focused on lunch periods. Schools that offer USDA-funded breakfast, fruit and vegetable snack, after-school, and weekend backpack snack programs have opportunities beyond the lunch period to increase FV selection and consumption throughout the school day.

CAFES could benefit from further predictive validity analysis. The use of an objective, validated measure of FV servings and consumption is a strength of CAFES; however, the DFIA method itself – like all measures of diet – is imperfect. Measuring diet, particularly among numerous children, is notoriously difficult to do reliably and validly [ 44 ]. Even the best measures have limitations. Additional predictive validity testing is also needed to assess room and table/display subscales.

Predictive validity analyses also did not address potential school-level moderators of FV selection and consumption behavior. First, the amount of time students have for meals can affect selection and consumption. If students are given whole fruit that must be cut or peeled, for example, they may be less likely to select and consume that item due to the added inconvenience, difficulty, and time required [ 58 ]. Furthermore, long lines and crowded spaces, along with time pressures, can lead students to making unhealthy and impulsive selections [ 13 ]. Second, predictive validity analysis excluded social environment influences. School personnel with proper education and training can serve as role models by establishing and enforcing policies and curricula that support healthy choices [ 67 ]. The nutrition, dieting, and weight control knowledge, values, attitudes, and behaviors of teachers and other school personnel could partially account for the success or failure of healthy eating programs implemented in schools [ 68 ]. Policies and food costs that influence what schools can prepare and offer to students were also excluded from analyses. Exclusion of these moderating factors likely affected predictive validity testing; however, CAFES is intended to supplement, rather than replace, other social, cultural, economic, policy, and nutritional assessments.

Future work

The CAFES’ tool is currently available as a paper-based assessment tool. A mobile application for Android and iOS devices is forthcoming (beta version; see CAFES.crc.nd.edu for updates or contact the corresponding author). Each require 45–90 min to complete. Paper version scoring requires an additional hour, but the mobile application automates data collection, scoring, and generating the list of intervention suggestions. These interventions, based on CAFES scoring and existing literature (e.g., how to arrange and present food to encourage healthy choices), are currently being tested and include low- and no-cost changes school staff can immediately implement.

Future CAFES work can test reducing the number of CAFES items, as well as adding other items such as kitchen, preparation, and serving area square footages and equipment inventory; objective temperature, lighting, and noise items gathered using a thermostat, lux meter, and decibel meter, respectively; and the presence of sound dampening materials to control noise. Work is also needed to establish what minimum CAFES scores are needed to achieve desired FV outcomes, such as a certain percentage increase in overall FV consumption, or to reduce the number of students not meeting USDA recommendations for daily FV intake.

Additional analyses of individual student-level moderators of the physical environment-student eating behavior relation are also needed. Student hunger level, which relates to the time of day lunch is served and whether lunch occurs before or after recess or physical education classes [ 69 ], may moderate FV selection and consumption. Additionally, student’s food perceptions and preferences should be explored. Children often make food choices based on appeal, taste, and convenience [ 70 ]. Although CAFES focused on the physical environment and improving school-level eating behaviors, these individual perceptual factors may moderate the relation between the physical environment and FV servings and consumption.


CAFES can be used by researchers, design and public health practitioners, and school personnel to identify critical areas where environmental supports are both successful and needed, to prioritize the focus and scope of interventions, and develop low- or no-cost intervention strategies to overcome barriers to and promote healthy eating within school cafeterias. Furthermore, intervention effectiveness can be assessed by using CAFES before and after interventions are implemented. Schools can also use CAFES when developing and implementing a student wellness policy that promotes healthy eating and adequate amounts of physical activity. Since the arrangement of school cafeterias and meal items can affect students’ choices, the unintended consequences of the design and layout are important to consider. Given that school officials and food service staff do influence the types of foods that are served and how they are presented, using CAFES to establish interventions as part of the wellness policy may assist in promotion health eating among students.

School cafeteria design can attract students and encourage healthy eating by becoming efficient and attractive spaces, promoting healthy eating and physical activity, and encouraging students to make healthier choices through interventions at various environmental scales [ 13 , 15 , 18 , 19 , 57 ]. Some schools have hired culinary experts to develop appealing, healthy meals and to transform cafeterias into welcoming, attractive spaces with natural lighting, artwork, and reduced noise to increase student participation in school meal programs [ 3 , 57 ]. CAFES results, however, allow school staff to leverage low- or no-cost strategies, which is especially critical when facing financial constraints. CAFES proved to be a practical, easy-to-use, and inexpensive assessment tool for measuring environmental supports of and barriers to the selection and consumption of FV in elementary school cafeterias. CAFES scores, when accompanied with future intervention suggestions, will be useful in guiding school staff, researchers, nutritionists, designers, and public health policy makers in creating cafeteria environments that facilitate healthy eating. CAFES can also contribute to the development of guidelines for cafeteria design, food layout, food presentation, and other intervention strategies aimed at increasing healthy food consumption among elementary school students.


Body mass index

Cafeteria Assessment for Elementary Schools

Digital Food Image Analysis

Free-and reduced-price meal

Fruit and vegetable

Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth


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We thank panel experts; participating Cooperative Extension Educators, schools, and students; the Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth team; Cornell University students Beth Myers, Alex Gensemer, and Meg Demment; and Cornell University and University of Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate student research assistants.

The CAFES study was funded by the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Program; the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University; United Way of St. Joseph County, Indiana; and the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. Partial support was also provided by Cornell University’s Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR); Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF); the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) People’s Garden pilot program (Project #CN-CGP-11-0047); the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (Hatch funds) (#NYC-327-465) and Cornell Cooperative Extension (Smith Lever funds) through the National Institutes for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) USDA; the College of Human Ecology, Cornell University; and the Cornell Cooperative Extension Summer Intern Program. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Authors and affiliations.

School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame, 110 Bond Hall, Notre Dame, IN, 46556, USA

Kimberly A. Rollings

Design + Environmental Analysis, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, 1411 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA

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KR conceptualized the project idea and research design in consultation with NW. KR executed primary data collection, reliability and validation analyses, and development and refinement of the CAFES tool. NW facilitated connections to panel experts and elementary school data collection sites, and provided de-identified student-level data. KR drafted the manuscript and both KR and NW edited, read, and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kimberly A. Rollings .

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate.

The Cornell University and University of Notre Dame Institutional Review Boards (IRB) reviewed the CAFES study and determined that it was exempt from IRB regulations known as the Common Rule, found at 45 CFR 46. The exempt research was fully reviewed by the IRB to ensure that it qualified for exemption and followed ethical principles, but procedures found in the Common Rule, including informed consent, were not required. CAFES development and reliability testing data were collected via observation of public school cafeteria spaces and lunch trays. No primary data were collected from elementary school students, and all schools gave permission to participate in the study. The student-level demographic data used in the testing of CAFES were secondary and de-identified. The nature and use of that secondary data involved minimal risk.

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Not applicable

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The authors declare they have no competing interests.

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Additional files

Additional file 1:.

Additional CAFES data tables. This file contains additional data tables related to CAFES development, reliability testing, and predictive validity analyses. Table S1. Pearson Inter-Item Correlations Among CAFES Total and Four Scale Scores. Table S2. Pearson Inter-Item Correlations Among CAFES Room Scale and Subscale Scores. Table S3. Pearson Inter-Item Correlations Among CAFES Table/Display Scale and Subscale Scores. Table S4. CAFES Predictive Validity Subsamples: School and Student Level Socio-Demographics. Table S5a. CAFES Students’ Fruit and Vegetable (FV) Servings and Percentage Consumed. Table S5b. Predictive Validity Subsample-CAFES Total: Student FV servings and Percentage Consumed. Table S5c. Predictive Validity Subsample-Four CAFES Scales: Student FV Servings and Percentage Consumed. Table S6a. Predictive Validity-CAFES Total Score: Fully Unconditional Model. Table S6b. Predictive validity-CAFES Total Score: Partially Conditional Model. Tables S7a-b. Predictive Validity-Four CAFES Scale Scores: Fully Unconditional Models. Tables S8a-b. Predictive Validity-Four CAFES Scale Scores: Partially Conditional Models. Table S9. Variance Accounted for by CAFES Total Score Models. Table S10. Variance Accounted for by Models with Four CAFES Scale Scores. (DOCX 101 kb)

Additional file 2:

CAFES paper form. This file contains the paper version of the CAFES tool. (PDF 1586 kb)

Additional file 3:

CAFES scoring spreadsheet. This spreadsheet file contains three worksheets. The first is the manual scoring entry spreadsheet for CAFES items. The second worksheet displays the resulting CAFES scores. The third worksheet provides a description of the CAFES scales and subscales. (XLSX 1508 kb)

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Rollings, K.A., Wells, N.M. Cafeteria assessment for elementary schools (CAFES): development, reliability testing, and predictive validity analysis. BMC Public Health 18 , 1154 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-6032-2

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-6032-2

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  • How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on September 11, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

  • Search for relevant literature
  • Evaluate sources
  • Identify themes, debates, and gaps
  • Outline the structure
  • Write your literature review

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

  • Quick Run-through
  • Step 1 & 2

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

  • Demonstrate your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context
  • Develop a theoretical framework and methodology for your research
  • Position your work in relation to other researchers and theorists
  • Show how your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate
  • Evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

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Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

  • Example literature review #1: “Why Do People Migrate? A Review of the Theoretical Literature” ( Theoretical literature review about the development of economic migration theory from the 1950s to today.)
  • Example literature review #2: “Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines” ( Methodological literature review about interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and production.)
  • Example literature review #3: “The Use of Technology in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Thematic literature review about the effects of technology on language acquisition.)
  • Example literature review #4: “Learners’ Listening Comprehension Difficulties in English Language Learning: A Literature Review” ( Chronological literature review about how the concept of listening skills has changed over time.)

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

Download Word doc Download Google doc

Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

  • Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok
  • Body image, self-perception, self-esteem, mental health
  • Generation Z, teenagers, adolescents, youth

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

  • Your university’s library catalogue
  • Google Scholar
  • Project Muse (humanities and social sciences)
  • Medline (life sciences and biomedicine)
  • EconLit (economics)
  • Inspec (physics, engineering and computer science)

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

  • What question or problem is the author addressing?
  • What are the key concepts and how are they defined?
  • What are the key theories, models, and methods?
  • Does the research use established frameworks or take an innovative approach?
  • What are the results and conclusions of the study?
  • How does the publication relate to other literature in the field? Does it confirm, add to, or challenge established knowledge?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research?

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

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To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

  • Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or less popular over time?
  • Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
  • Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
  • Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the direction of the field?
  • Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be addressed?

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

  • Most research has focused on young women.
  • There is an increasing interest in the visual aspects of social media.
  • But there is still a lack of robust research on highly visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat—this is a gap that you could address in your own research.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:

  • Look at what results have emerged in qualitative versus quantitative research
  • Discuss how the topic has been approached by empirical versus theoretical scholarship
  • Divide the literature into sociological, historical, and cultural sources


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

  • Summarize and synthesize: give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
  • Analyze and interpret: don’t just paraphrase other researchers — add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
  • Critically evaluate: mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
  • Write in well-structured paragraphs: use transition words and topic sentences to draw connections, comparisons and contrasts

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility


  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

  • To familiarize yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
  • To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
  • To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
  • To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
  • To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

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If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, September 11). How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved January 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/

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Islamic perspectives relating to business, arts, culture and communication pp 373–381 Cite as

Students’ Satisfaction with the University Cafeteria: Structural Relationships of Food Quality, Staff, Price Fairness, and Ambiance

  • Mui Ling Dyana Chang 4 ,
  • Norazah Mohd Suki 5 &
  • Norbayah Mohd Suki 6  
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This study aims to investigate the relationship between the food quality, price fairness, staff, and ambiance of the university cafeteria with students’ satisfaction. To test the conceptual model and test the proposed hypotheses, a quantitative survey was performed via a structured self-administered questionnaire among 78 undergraduates from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Sabah campus, Malaysia, utilizing convenience sampling method. Data was analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM) technique via AMOS 21.0 computer program with maximum likelihood estimation. The empirical results provided strong support that students’ satisfaction with the university cafeteria is very much influenced by food quality, followed by staff and ambiance, respectively. Implications of the study from managerial and theoretical perspectives together with directions for future research are also discussed. The findings of this study may help the university cafeteria to improve service quality and raise students’ satisfaction.

  • Students’ satisfaction
  • Service quality
  • Price fairness
  • Food quality

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Centre for the Promotion of Knowledge and Language Learning, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Mui Ling Dyana Chang

Labuan Faculty of International Finance, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Federal Territory of Labuan, Malaysia

Norazah Mohd Suki

Labuan Faculty of Computing and Informatics, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Federal Territory of Labuan, Malaysia

Norbayah Mohd Suki

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Chang, M.L.D., Suki, N.M., Suki, N.M. (2015). Students’ Satisfaction with the University Cafeteria: Structural Relationships of Food Quality, Staff, Price Fairness, and Ambiance. In: Omar, R., Bahrom, H., de Mello, G. (eds) Islamic perspectives relating to business, arts, culture and communication. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-429-0_35

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The Design Gesture

Café Architecture: Important Tips to Design a Cafe


Table of Contents

What is a Café?

A café is a type of restaurant that typically serves coffee, tea, and light refreshments, such as baked goods or snacks. The term “café” comes from the French word meaning coffee that is further derived from the Turkish kahve , meaning coffee. It is also sometimes known as a coffeehouse or a coffee shop (or tea shop in English).

There are some characteristics similar to that of a bar and some characteristics of a restaurant given its selection of foods and beverages served, but is distinct from a cafeteria where customers can choose from many dishes displayed on a serving line.

The introduction to café architecture or coffee drinking to Europe provided a much-needed focus for the social activities of the sober. The first café is said to have opened in 1550 in Constantinople; during the 17th-century, cafes opened in Italy, France, Germany, and England. During the 200 years after the mid-17th century, the most famous coffeehouses of Europe flourished in London as ready points for news, discussion, and faction.

Coffee houses or shops became informal stations for the collection and distribution of packets and letters. By the 19th century, the daily newspaper and the home post had displaced these functions. Around that time, the French café and restaurant acted as gathering places for intellectuals and artists. The café continued to be an important social institution in France throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries.

During the late 20th century, as espresso and other specialty coffees became popular in the United States, many restaurants specializing in coffee opened. In the 1990s and early 2000s, some cafés offered Internet access to the public, giving rise to the so-called Internet café.

How is a Café different from a Cafeteria?

The terms Café and Cafeteria seem quite similar as the word ‘Cafe’ is part of the word ‘Cafeteria’. And while most of us know the difference between these two terms, we often mistake or get confused between them at certain points. Let’s break these two terms down to understand the true meaning.

A café is a place that offers coffee, tea, and other such hot beverages along with refreshments. An ideal image of a café or coffee shop would include comfy chairs, tables, sofas, a bookshelf, and a counter where various different types of coffee and other such beverages can be ordered. The purpose of a café is to meet up with friends for a quick chat over coffee. A Café gives an informal vibe where people come to lay off and chill; basically, an opposite of a business dinner, meeting, or any other formal engagement.

A cafeteria is a place where there is a handful of staff or has mostly self-service counters. These places are often found in large institutions such as schools, colleges, office buildings. The place is mostly filled with many small tables and chairs and food counters or counters available close to the walls. Cafeterias mostly resemble food courts in the mall. A person is expected to order their food at the counter and then pay for it.

There are two ways a counter could be set up, a person could walk around and get whatever he likes and then pay for it, or it can be in a buffet style where he pays for it once and is eligible for second helpings.

Importance of Café design

In today’s world where technology and social media are at its peak, it is very important to plan a good hangout space that not only fulfils the hunger for food but also the hunger for publicity and likes. Cafes, pictures, Instagram, and (café) interior design all go hand in hand. Millennial generation is well aware that a great cafe experience comes with a great cafe design. In the age of Instagram and social media updates, it’s safe to say that having a great cafe interior design is a must.

Usually, cafe owners mostly forget the fundamentals of a cafe differs from that of a restaurant. That is why the cafe interior design concepts which work for restaurants do not comply for designing a coffee shop. It is crucial to understand the psychology and mood of a customer visiting a café, which is why the interior design reflects the same.

People of all sorts come into a café for its architecture and design. With an existing target audience, it is still fluid and vague. Coffee accompanies every age group and simple meals which are rather affordable create an atmosphere for both partying or reading. Hence, cafe interior design becomes valuable, as that will define how people react to the cafe.

Tips to have a pleasing and welcoming Café design

The design concepts, wall colours and textures, table and chair design, lighting, and music; all these factors give your cafe a personality that will dictate how people perceive and spend in your cafe. In the end, like any other business, the end goal of a cafe is to maximize profits and minimize cost, so the end goal revolves around the customer and cost effective efficiency.

  • Concept and Research

The first thing to be considered before planning a cafe interior design is your concept. The type of café you want, the prices and kinds of coffee you want, the location of the café, whether it’s a friendly neighbourhood one or near a university campus or at high-end posh neighbourhood. Study the type of clients they are attracting the most and compare if the design in use has anything to do with that. 

If you intend to use machinery to attract clients, then be smart and professional about it. Ensure that all equipment is strategically positioned within the coffee shop. Cover and decorate these machines with bright and branded colours. Make sure that what meets the eyes of your clients is perfect. The primary goal here is to come up with a conducive environment that will please your clients and make it easy for you and your baristas to serve them.


The customer’s first impression after entering the coffee shop is influential and highly important. The perfect café layout is one that serves your customers efficiently during both peak and off-peak hours. Coming up with an ideal layout might not be that easy but it will definitely make things easier for all the functions that will follow dictating many components of your customer experience–from how they line up, to where they sit, to how long they sit, to what food and drinks you can serve, and more.

The best café architecture or design should be both aesthetically appealing and ensure smooth service delivery during the busiest of times. Your customers should feel relaxed and welcomed. Having a poor layout will stress your baristas and customers. Here are a few points which will help with the layout process.

  • Equipment needs to easily come in and out of your coffee shop for installation, service, cleaning, or replacement. When designing your coffee shop layout, be mindful of this important detail. Make sure it can all fit through your doors and around your walls and counters. 
  • Finding the right amount of space in your employee work station is a balancing act. To be efficient and safe, you want to avoid making employees cross paths often. A workspace where employees have stations and can rotate 360 degrees to touch everything. They need to do their job. This will free up space to pass around each other and in the front of customers.
  • Make sure to have the highest ceilings possible in the back of the house (kitchen and bar area.) Install shelving all the way up for maximum storage capacity for large boxes of paper products, coffee, and more.
  • Take into account how a line of customers affects the overall user experience in a cafe. Avoid chaotic and uncomfortable queues.
  • Interior Design

For designing the interior of a café, it is important to keep in mind every single thing, such as wall colour, flooring, furniture, lighting,. These elements, if done carefully, will change the entire outlook of a place. Building an excellent coffee shop from scratch doesn’t have to be expensive.

As long as you are creative and add a personal touch to your overall design, any place will be the envy of the entire town. One way in which elements,can build a stunning coffee shop is by investing in quality interior finishes.

Colour and Café Architecture outlook

Colours in a café are the first thing that customers notice and is an integral part of the cafe design. It is necessary to pick colours that will reflect the mood and the idea of the café. Colours like reds and yellows are considered being diet stimulants since they create an impulse in our minds. To spice up the appearance of walls, wood panels can be used for creating a feature wall, making the store look more rustic and chicer. Also, by brightening up dull walls with colourful wallpaper and treatments such as faux finishes and murals. 

Cafe Furniture

Depending on the size of the café, plan the seating. Cafes that will serve lots of people and are in busy locations should have tall and hard chairs that discourage longer stays. Whereas, a café that intends to accommodate customers for longer should have low and comfy couches. The basic thing to remember is that the customers should be able to comfortably enjoy their drinks and snacks without strain. The tables should feature a standard height and shouldn’t be too far or too close to the seats.

Even after having the best interior design, incorrect lighting can ruin it. Lighting plays a crucial role in running a café. Customers and employees need to clearly see what they are buying and selling, respectively. The ideal café design should be able to let in natural light throughout the day, the exception being the shop is in between buildings where natural light is scarce.

The aim is to create a comfortable environment and stay away from dazzling lights that seem unnatural. Dazzling lights will over-power the customers, distract them from the food, and make them uncomfortable. Dim lights work in a café if you want to give a rustic and exclusive impression. Ensure that different areas have varying lighting intensities. Seats around corners should be dully lit to create a romantic or idyllic mood. In other areas, ensure the light is bright enough to accommodate reading.

Acoustics are an essential element of café interior design. A cafe is a place where people either come to socialize or work in private. The music playing in a café dictates the mood, especially for the youngsters. Slow music in the background brings about a sense of relaxation, whereas loud music psyches up your customers. To avoid chaos and discomfort, playing different genres of music from time to time will come in handy.

Flooring is a crucial part of any interior design and can easily make or break your space. It serves as a foundation to the café design and can ultimately affect its overall success. While the first interaction with a space is visual, the first physical contact a person will have with space is the flooring. Few options for café flooring include- Porcelain, vinyl tiles, terazzo, laminate, carpet, and concrete for the outdoors.

Also, ceramic tiles these days come in various patterns and can be customized according to the café interior. Picking anti-slip tiles is a brilliant choice as it enhances safety. Acid-etched concrete is another alternative. Although rugs can improve interior aesthetics, they are hard to maintain, especially after a few coffee spills.

Sustainability and cost efficiency

Optimizing spaces with an ergonomic design that combines function, efficiency, and design makes it easier for employees to multi-task and work effectively. This might also lead to cost savings without affecting the quality of service. The materials, furniture, and furnishings selected should be durable to reduce maintenance and replacement costs.

A sustainable plan will include everything from preparing the food to delivering, packaging along with optimal use of food, water, and energy resources in kitchen and dining areas. Using green building materials will create a healthy indoor environment for the café. Recycling and efficiency to reduce waste in all areas should be planned accordingly.

8 Examples of Café architecture and design

Café yeonnam-dong 239-20, seoul, south korea..

Cafe Design

The cafe’s interior looks like a scene from a cartoon, or a page from a comic book, or just a drawing sketch. Not just wall and floor design, the style is kept precisely in every detail. Furniture, dishes, cups: everything fits the concept.

Blend Station, Mexico

Café Architecture: Important Tips to Design a Cafe The introduction to café architecture or coffee drinking to Europe provided a much-needed focus for the social activities of the sober. The first café is said to have opened in 1550 in Constantinople; during the 17th-century, cafes opened in Italy, France, Germany, and England. During the 200 years after the mid-17th century, the most famous coffeehouses of Europe flourished in London as ready points for news, discussion, and faction. Café Architecture,Café design,Cafe interior design,Cost effective,cafeteria

A Stylish & modern espresso bar offering fair-trade Mexican roasts, plus a takeaway window.

Happy Bones, NYC, USA

Happy Bones

Happy Bones optimistically puts it as ‘exists to inspire and energise New Yorkers’. They have translated their zeal for coffee into a stylish brick and mortar space. The compact space just 432 sq. ft once an alleyway. The clever, minimalist conversion features whitewashed brickwork, steel mesh displays (complete with a top-notch selection of art books) and a large skylight above the eye-catching counter at the end of space.

Lucciano´s Ice-cream & coffee shop, Olivos, Buenos Aires.

Cafe interior design

Lucciano’s is a family-owned company, born out of a desire to satisfy the most demanding segment of consumers of artisan ice cream in our country. They went back to Italy and bought back the latest manufacturing technologies and best gelato masters. Then they combined national and Italian raw materials with Belgium chocolate to create a unique product, thus becoming a synonym for the best premium ice creams in the market.

Coffee Concepts, Amsterdam, Netherlands

cost effective

An airy coffee bar with stylish decor, serving breakfast plates, sandwiches & sweet treats. It has a level difference that separates two spaces and is aesthetically pleasing.

Jane Café, San Francisco, USA

Cafe Design

“Here at Jane, healthy eating means having a salad and a cookie—it’s all about balance.” Born from a deep-seated love of all things culinary, Amanda Michael founded JANE to satisfy her passion and deliver memorable experiences to the many loyal and transient guests who love the institution. Amanda’s career in food and hospitality spans decades and she has spent many years cooking and baking in a myriad of restaurants.

Pastryology, Port Rashid, Dubai

Cafe Design

Full of traditional notions of French design and feminine symbolism through bistro furniture pieces, romantic imagery and a colour palette directly inspired by the French flag, the mixing of colour copper and brass interior pieces flirt with pink hues, creating a subtly playful environment reinforcing the café’s avian concept.

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31+ Coffee Shop Review Examples

Perfectly crafted Coffee Shop Review Examples that you can copy and paste or edit in your own style and use them for 5 star feedback for your favourite café.

Coffee Shop Review Examples

01 . I really like the atmosphere, good coffee, and nice interior. This is a good place to study or chill with friends. The drinks and foods were all tasty and worthwhile. If you’re up for a fresh place with beautiful architecture then this is a must to visit.

02 . This place is amazing! They offered the best coffee and showed the best attitude to its costumers. Internet connection is very fast and is unlimited as well. This place is indeed perfect for studying and chilling out. It was very quiet and air-conditioned. I just want to keep coming back to this place. Thank you!

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03 . Will go again.I only popped in to get take-away cappuccinos, but I was struck by how friendly the service was. The cappuccinos were wonderful too! And very well priced.

04 . I would probably say that this coffee shop is a must for coffee lovers! The service was good, and the variety of coffee served in the ambiance was very satisfying. If you like your coffee shops, then this is a must-visit! We will be back again!

05 . This coffee shop is my favorite place to hang and do my works. I really like this place because it has a good ambiance and not too crowded as well. The coffee and pastries that they had were so delicious.

The barista was so friendly and pleasant to talk with. One thing that I got fascinated by this place. They had the most affordable and delicious coffee in town.

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06 . If you’re looking for a place where to relax and read some novels or whatever, this coffee shop would be the best. They have the best coffee available and even some fresh baked goods as well. The ambiance of this shop was so relaxing, and the staffs are highly capable. I could not ask for more because everything that I needed was provided. Well done, guys! Keep making great coffee and pastries!

07 . Unquestionably, the best coffee shop in the area! I’m so thankful that finally, I was able to find this spot for some good coffee just in time. The atmosphere inside this coffee shop was very vibrant and relaxing. I will definitely rate them a five-star for everything that they provided. Truly amazing! Thank you so much, guys!

08 . This place is very different and well organized according to other places. The food is amazing, music of your choice. The owner is very sweet… Ever the best café. The cost is fair for everything and the atmosphere is good.

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09 . This coffee shop has it all. The ambiance, interior designs, good coffee, tasty foods, and fast wi-fi connection. Prices are a bit high but once you already taste it, you understand why. It is simply one of the best and my favorites coffee shop in town. Overall, it’s a good shop for studying and relaxing. Highly recommended!

  • Check out this cool print for coffee lovers.

10 . A unique coffee shop to study and read books. No loud noises which will help you a lot to concentrate on what you do. They do have a variety of food and drinks you can select from. I honestly love the great interior all over the place. Trust me! You will never be disappointed for sure! A memorable place to relax.

More Coffee Shop Review Examples on the next page…

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Our latest Fall 2023 Issue of The Café Review continues our mission to bring Maine poetry to the world and poetry from around the world to Maine featuring an interview with Miho Nonaka   conducted by Jefferson Navicky and poetry by Mosab Abu Toha, Neeli Cherkovski, Janay Cosner, Edward Dewar, Nathaniel Dolton–Thornton, Thomas Feeny, A.M. Kennedy, Basil King, Tony Kitt, Antonio Machado, Miho Nonaka, Jane Pfefferkorn, Dan Raphael, Jerome Rothenberg, James H. Schneider, Paul Vangelisti, Harold Van Lonkhuyzen and Margaret Young. It also features artwork by Linda Baker–Cimini, Mike Cockrill, Ann Cohen, K. Scott Davis, Jack Duffy, Dimitris Karlaftopoulos, Basil King, Ariel González Losada, Tom Pirozzoli, Alison Rector and Victor Sachivko with reviews by Amanda Dettmann and Craig Sipe.

As always, we are an all volunteer micro-pub producing printed publications quarterly from Portland, Maine. While we are still all volunteer, we are now a 501c3 meaning any support you give is now tax deductible! If you love what we do, support us by donating or subscribing . Without our patrons and subscribers, we would not exist!

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