Cafe Insights

Minimalist Café POS and Menu Psychology with George and Willy


Bustling coffee shops, standing awfully close in a queue, having your name spelt incorrectly on your takeaway cup - these things are all a distant memory for many of us now. Covid has forced us to alter the way we engage with those around us and has encouraged a new concept of café and menu design to filter into our everyday lives.

It was in lockdown that coffee shop owners had to frantically morph their spaces and their offering to cater to new social distancing regulations and restrictions. Now, businesses in the hospitality industry wonder how they can stay out in the “new normal”.

Research from Matthew Algie and design-led sign-makers George & Willy, has shown that minimalist design, succinct menus and premiumisation are key trends to watch out for, one year into the global pandemic.

"George & Willy’s signage and unique display solutions are crafted to be beautiful, functional and stand the test of time” – Will McCullum, Co-Founder.


One of the biggest trends noted by the team at George and Willy, is the minimalist café. This is about focusing on what’s really important to the customer and making sure the little things are done right. People just want to easily read a menu (even if they do choose the same flat white every day).

Recent research by Matthew Algie supports this as a growing trend in the UK and Ireland. We found that coffee shops are opting for simplistic coffee menus with limited drinks choices. Consumers welcome concepts that can be easily tailored to their taste (like hot or iced, dairy or plant-based).

The popularity of simplistic menus has of course been propelled by the pandemic. Often coffee shops have had to reduce their offering to account for a smaller, take away-only market. Cafe operators have also needed customers to find what they want and order quickly without delay. As a result, more refined and ever-changing menus have become the norm.

This, along with the ever-growing minimalist interior design trend, has meant that simple, elegant menu boards with features such as magnetic lettering have become much more popular. Reflecting this direction of travel, George & Willy has seen the simplistic Baker Menu and Atelier Letter Board become top-selling products.


One year into the pandemic, customers are obviously spending as little time as possible inside cafés and want to efficiently place their order then leave with their coffee. This quick decision-making is the reason why it’s so important to have a simple, clear menu. But how can you also maximise customer spend?

Research by Matthew Algie has found that there are several small ways to optimise sales through streamlining the layout of your menu.

  • Remove the currency sign. Not only does it streamline and minimise the design, there’s also the psychological reason that currency signs make us think about money and when we think about money, we don’t want to spend it. Removing currency symbols could have a positive effect on your aesthetic as well as your customers’ spending habits.
  • People tend to look at the middle of a scene. It’s called the centre stage effect. Because of this, customers are drawn to the centre of your menu, so consider carefully what you put in the middle.
  • Neuroscientists have found that you perceive numbers on a linear scale with small numbers at the left, medium numbers in the middle, and large numbers at the right. Numbers are easier to process when they’re positioned in a choice set in the same way your brain processes them, so offer two-three column pricing to maximise spend.
  • It has become a well-established fact that .99 ending prices signal low cost and .95 ending prices signal high quality. Bear in mind when pricing your menu, that the prices you give your drink choices make a statement about the type of establishment/ brand you are.

There’s a science behind that menu, be sure to use it to your advantage!


Simplification often goes hand in hand with premiumisation. George & Willy feel strongly that businesses with impeccable, premium signage draw customers through the door.

For cafés offering takeaways in the current climate, outdoor signage is more important than ever to signal you are open and able to serve coffee to those passing by on their daily walk, or on their way home from the weekly shop. We particularly love George & Willy's a-board sign, which distinguishes itself from your average swing sign. Who wouldn't stop and look! Make sure the sign can be seen from the road, is visible to pedestrians and the company logo is easily distinguishable.

In terms of interior signage, George & Willy find that often cafés lack prominent, high-quality signage for individual products, and this is where counter signs come in. Select the right solution and changing daily offerings will become effortless. Keep product signage simple and legible: the easier it is on the eye and simpler to understand, the happier a customer will feel.

In summary, 2021 it's all about less is more. Keeping it simple and keeping your business nimble has never been so important.

A final note from George & Willy to UK & Ireland cafes, is to "stay true to your values and take all the praise and recognition your deserve, after what has been a truly challenging year"


George & Willy was started in New Zealand by two friends out of college. They specialise in beautiful signage, letter boards, and "life tools" that are shipped around the world.

Through their loyal customers and engagement with key players in the industry, George & Willy have their finger on the pulse of café trends across the globe.

Check out George & Willy's be shop to find unique display systems, signage and “life tools” that are perfect for you and your business.