Best POS systems for Cafes

Best POS systems for Cafes

Updated: 22 March 2021

Modern POS systems are an efficient combination of hardware and software components that makes them capable of performing several administrative and accounting functions to help keep your cafe running smoothly.

Square for Restaurants remains the best POS system for cafes. The mobile cloud-based software supports Android and iOS operating systems, and it is an excellent choice for small cafes and large coffee chains. The basic Square for Restaurants Free Plan gives you access to in-app features such as Order Manager, Sales Report, Team manager, and technical support.

Modern POS systems are tailored specifically to fulfill the unique needs of each business sector. Getting the appropriate POS system designed to address your peculiar business challenges is the key to having an efficient running cafe.


How to evaluate the best POS system?

The POS terminal is the nucleus of cafe interactions between baristas and customers. Different types of POS systems are available with impressive technical specs and an array of outstanding features. However, a good POS system should be able to fulfill the following short and long term requirements

  1. Fast operating speed: a point-of-sale system must be able to increase your cafe’s potential to earn more revenue by allowing baristas to process transactions within the fastest possible time while attending to as many customers as possible.
  2. Reliability: a vital requirement of a good POS system is to perform consistently through peak rush periods without experiencing software or hardware glitches.
  3. Cloud data backup and remote access: an effective point-of-sale system should be able to improve efficiency by offering real-time access to data and allow you to make changes to your cafe information from any device, wherever you are.
  4. Low cost: the cost of a coffee house POS system shouldn’t break your bank account. Whether you are going for off-the-shelf or proprietary technology, a point-of-sale system should offer cost-effective pricing and processing fees.
  5. Robust functionality: the best cafe shop POS systems have features and tools such as sales tracking, inventory management, which allow employees and coffee house managers to do the following;
  1. Improve service procedures.
  2. Streamline their daily operations.
  3. Cut costs.

Essential tips to consider.

The tips below could guide you during discussions with POS vendors.

Lookout high-level security features.

Point-of-sale systems must possess the following security features to protect your earnings, corporate data, and customer information.

  1. Password-protected access to the POS operating software.
  2. Cash drawers with secure locks.
  3. An effective firewall to defend the software against malware attacks.
  4. Full compliance with existing Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).
  5. Fail-safe encryption to prevent theft of customer’s credit card information and corporate information.

Choose the POS system that can enhance your cafe customer service experience.

The POS terminal is the lifeline of any cafe. A problematic POS system leads to frustrating delays that contribute to a poor customer experience and revenue loss. Allow your employees to test every POS system under consideration to identify the key features that can improve customer experience.

Competitive contract terms.

Before signing up for a new POS system, ensure that the contract terms won’t take a chunk out of your revenue. What do I mean? Some POS vendors may decide to slash their initial purchase prices to entice new customers but recover their losses by charging higher processing fees which could significantly reduce your profits. Compare prices, and read the fine print to choose a POS system that will save you money in the long term.


There are different types of cafe point-of-sale systems ranging from the bulky legacy terminals to sleek touch screen tablets at the local bistro. The price range for these systems varies, and in this section, we will look into the pricing of cafe POS systems.

Legacy/Onsite POS systems.

These are traditional in-house POS systems that operate on a closed internal network and store data on a local server. The average cost to purchase and install hardware for a legacy POS system is between $3,000 to $7,000. Upfront licensing fees range between $400 – $1,500, depending on the POS vendor. Additional costs include a monthly software subscription which costs an average of $85 per month.

A legacy POS system may consist of the following hardware:

  • Terminal and stand.
  • Card reader.
  • Cash drawer.
  • Receipt printer.
  • Large cafes with multiple systems may require WiFi routers and extenders.

Cloud-based POS systems.

Modern cloud-based POS systems use software-as-a-service (SaaS) to provide faster payment processing services including, regular over-the-air software updates and cloud data storage. The average cost of a single register cloud-based POS hardware rig for a small cafe is around $1,200 for an Android setup and approximately $1,500 for Apple devices.

A cloud-based POS system consists of the following hardware:

  • iPad or Android tablet.
  • iPad/Android tablet stand.
  • Credit card reader.
  • Cash drawer.
  • Receipt printer.

Basic cloud-based POS system software subscription costs range from $60 – $180 per month depending on the following:

  1. The number of paid add-ons (which increase your monthly subscription payments).
  2. Additional registers increase your monthly subscription costs.
  3. Making a yearly payment upfront is cheaper than month-to-month payments.

Ease of Use

A POS system interface should provide a good user experience and make it easier for baristas to take orders and process payments. Out-of-date POS systems with a complicated interface can frustrate employees and will result in low productivity.

Best POS systems for a small coffee shop.

Cafe shops operate on thin profit margins, and the best cafe POS systems are expected to perform at speeds fast enough for baristas to process as many payments as possible quickly. Also needed are quick-access buttons to features that can easily track customer loyalty points, inventory, and other data on the cafe’s overall performance.

This guide will provide you with the best four coffee shop POS systems. Their costs, features, pros, and cons.



Lightspeed is a cloud-based iPad POS system that provides cafes with a wide range of functionality. Lightspeed is flexible and easy to set up. It is a plug-and-play POS system without any installation fees.


  1. Loyalty options to reward customers.
  2. User-friendly interface and checkout software.
  3. Affordable payment plans with 24-hour technical support.
  4. A top-rated mobile app with reporting functions.


  1. Lightspeed can be expensive when paid add-ons are selected.
  2. It lacks an offline mode.
  3. Multiple register setups can be very pricey.


Lightspeed offers the following unique features, which sets it apart from the competition.

  1. Employee management: allows shop managers and owners to add or remove employees’ views in the mobile app.
  2. Self-Order feature: allows cafe patrons to place an order through Lightspeed POS terminals but process their payment outside of Lightspeed servers.
  3. Mobile app feature: Lightspeed mobile app is an office for your pocket that provides cafe owners and managers with daily sales data and inventory information.


Hardware costs
Starting prices for a basic single register hardware bundle is about $500. It includes the following components:

  • One iPad stand.
  • Kitchen printer.
  • A receipt printer.
  • A cash drawer.
  • A Liteserver unit.

Software subscription costs.
An entry-level plan starts from $69 per month for a one-off annual payment.


Linga is an excellent choice for large and small quick-service cafes. Its enterprise-ready iPad cloud-based POS software offers several unbeatable innovative features, such as:

  • Internet of Things integrations.
  • Offline functionality.
  • Self-service kiosks.
  • Linga Pay, a payment system built into your Linga POS software.

Linga offers integration with major credit card payment systems and their third-party hardware. Linga provides an excellent customer user experience with a point-based loyalty program add-on at an extra cost.


  • Linga offers a 14-day free trial and demos.
  • It has a low-priced basic plan that delivers excellent value for money.
  • It has a massive number of incredible features, which includes a time clock, inventory management with automated reorder of PO for low stock items, online ordering, and table management


  • Linga charges a hefty installation fee.
  • Poor customer service.
  • Selecting desired add-ons can significantly increase your monthly software subscription payments.
  • Linga software interface can be initially difficult to navigate, and training is often required to acquaint employees.


Linga offers the following unique features, which sets it apart from the competition.

  1. Customer Interface: Linga provides a customer-facing touchscreen interface with digital tipping and signature functions for a unique customer experience.
  2. Multi-Currency and Multi-Language: these are features that allow you to translate Linga POS systems into more than 30 different world languages. And makes it compatible with every global currency.
  3. Internet of Things: this is a unique feature of Linga POS that uses a WiFi connection to operate security cameras, door locks, and thermostat controls.


Linga charges a compulsory installation fee of $999 for its new customers.

Linga software can run on iPad, iPad Pro, or iPad Mini. Linga sells its POS hardware on the company website, and it offers a POS hardware and software bundle for customers for $49 per month with a 3-year contract.

Linga has three software subscription packages.

PlansAnnual Payment PlanMonthly Payment Plan
Basic Plan$19.99/month/register$39.99/month/register
Pro Plan$49.99/month/register$69.99/month/register
Enterprise Plan$89.99/month/register($109.99/month/register


Toast is a cloud-based POS software that is supported by proprietary Android hardware. Toast POS solutions are tailored specifically for cafes and restaurants. It offers class-leading features for small cafes and multi-location coffee chains.


  1. Toast touchscreen terminal unique swivel feature that allows customers to input orders by themselves.
  2. A beautifully designed, easy-to-use interface with fast loading speeds.
  3. Free monthly updates after installation and in-person employee training.
  4. Industry-leading customer care service.


  1. Toast can get very expensive when paid add-on features are included.
  2. Obligatory installation fee.


Toast offers the following unique features, which sets it apart from the competition.

In-built value add-on services: provides your cafe with everything it requires without the need for third-party add-ons. These include.

  • Gift card,
  • Loyalty program,
  • Online ordering,
  • Email marketing
  • Promotions,
  • Takeout,
  • Payroll and employee
  • management.
  • Real-time inventory update.

Toast Go: a multi-order payment processing platform that allows baristas to take orders anywhere within the cafe with handheld POS devices.


Hardware costs
Toast’s hardware sales approach is different from other POS vendors because it sells its hardware separately or as part of a bundle. Most single-owner cafes prefer the Toast handheld tablet bundle, which is priced to start at $450. Startup bundles for large cafes begin at $999 for a 10-inch terminal and $1,350 for a 10-inch terminal and a handheld tablet.

Software costs.
Toast charges $499 for an over-the-air installation of its software or a $1,500 fee for an on-site installation. Toast charges a software subscription fee of $75 per month for each terminal. Additional terminals cost $50 each. Add-ons such as loyalty cost $20 extra per month.


Square POS is one of the most affordable cloud-based POS software around. Square for Restaurants was explicitly developed for cafes and diners. Its basic free plan is user-friendly and packed with valuable features like sales reporting, accounting and customer management tools, and loyalty program add-ons that can be expanded to match your cafe growth.


  1. It can run on both iPad and Android devices.
  2. It has a straightforward and intuitive interface.
  3. Low costs, even with add-ons. For example, both customer loyalty and gift card programs cost $25 per month.
  4. It has free software installation and online ordering features.


  1. It lacks detailed and in-depth reporting.
  2. Phone support is limited to 12-hour weekdays.
  3. In-software Purchase Order is unavailable.


Prominent Square POS software include:

  1. Onscreen tipping: this feature allows customers to use any form of payment.
  2. Free employee management: is a free timekeeping feature that is available with the basic subscription plan. However, you will pay to enjoy more advanced features like Team Management Plus.
  3. Delivery Management: this feature offers integration with delivery brands like Postmates and DoorDash.


Hardware costs.
Square POS software can run on your personal Apple or Android devices. However, you can buy Square hardware at the rates provided in the table below with zero-interest financing. All new accounts are provided with a free magstripe card reader

Card Reader$49

Software cost.

Software planPrice
Square Restaurant Free Plan$0 per Month
Square Plus$60 per Month
Square Premium$299 Month


Yes, Square remains the best POS system for coffee shops with a free basic software plan that provides useful features to keep your cafe running efficiently. However, you can also check out these free coffee shop POS software alternatives.

  • eHopper.
  • Loyverse.
  • Erply.

Yes, a typical POS system is usually a combination of hardware and proprietary software. You can create a custom POS system for your cafe by installing your tweaked version of a GNU GPL3 Licensed software like Unicenta on a computer with Windows or Linux operating system. You can integrate off-the-shelf hardware add-ons such as a USB Barcode scanner and receipt printer to complete your POS system.


Author Bio: Adam Barnes is a college graduate in IT with over 15 years of industry experience. Working a variety of IT jobs with large IT support companies and Hotels, Adam started his own local computer repair service which has been going from strength to strength. Adam is skilled in the areas of POS systems, data recovery, computer repairs, and web design.