There's nothing better than going to your favourite coffee shop and relaxing with a piping hot cup of coffee and a tasty treat. It's the chilled out atmosphere that cafes provide that make them so popular with all kinds of people.

Cafes are a great meeting place for friends to catch up in a stress-free setting. Although the pace is fast, there's never any rush in a cafe environment. Many people also choose to conduct informal business meetings because the setting is far more relaxed than the office.

It's a massive investment when you decide to open a cafe – but the rewards are far more than monetary. People with a passion for hospitality and great customer service in general are often very successful. However, a well run cafe relies on sound, efficient management. However, aside from passion and strong management, the success of a cafe often rides on the preparation long before the first customer is served.

A cafe is no different to any other business when it comes to the groundwork that is required. Make sure everything you plan on doing is clearly defined – finances, cafe facelifts, staff, opening hours; it all needs to be determined.

After these basics are set, you can start to think about furnishing the cafe. The furniture you use in your establishment can determine how many people walk in the door and how long they end up staying for.

To get an idea of what you should be looking for when buying your cafe furniture, here is a simple list of things to consider:

1. High quality. It really is true – you get what you pay for. Buying furniture from credible suppliers is a great way to make sure that you're not going to be replacing items on a regular basis. Plus, you don't want your customers to be sipping their coffees on the floor after a cheap chair has fallen out from under them.

2. Superb styling and appeal. If the chairs or couches you purchase don't look inviting, people aren't going to want to spend time or money in your cafe. Basically, if customers have a relaxed, enjoyable time on their first visit, you can be assured that not only will they return, but they will tell their friends about it too!

3. Does it go with the cafe theme? Have colour palettes in mind when choosing your furniture. Not only for the walls, but prints you have on the walls as well as the floor covering and occasional pieces you may want to use.

4. Comfort. So the chairs look comfortable to sit in, but are they really? Test out everything your customers will be sitting in and on... And not just for five minutes. Sit down and stretch out. Sit in different positions and for at least 10 minutes.

5. Durability. If you're taking the time and money to buy good looking, comfortable furniture, you want to ensure they are going to last. Look for weak points in the furniture, the method of joinery and also how easy they are to clean.

6. Affordability. This comes down to being realistic. You have to take into account not only the cost of the item, but also how long you will have them for, how often you will have to replace them and how easy they are to clean.

By taking the time to research your cafe furniture, you'll be sure to be on the right track to running a successful cafe.