How We Designed Our Drive Thru | Kaldi's Coffee Blog

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How We Designed Our Drive Thru

We’re thrilled to launch our newest café, located on Clarkson Road in Ellisville, MO. This drive thru location has walk-in counter service, patio-only seating, and online ordering available via Toast, and we are very excited to serve you in this new way.

Since its inception, we’ve aimed to make Ellisville unlike any drive thru you may have experienced, and we know it’s unlike any café we’ve ever built. Maintaining our current cafe experience while creating this entirely new type of cafe was paramount, so we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how our current guest experience would translate to this new concept.

In this blog, we'll lay out the inception of the drive thru and the specific design considerations we made to ensure you're still getting the memorable coffee experience we strive for. 

Drive-Thru sign at Ellisville

Why did we decide to design a drive-thru in Ellisville?

The needs of customers and companies changed a lot in 2020 and 2021. With those changes, we saw an opportunity to expand the way we serve you and your families, by applying our decades of experience to a new form of cafe. We know with a car full of kids or a long commute ahead, staying on the go can be priceless, but we didn’t want to open a Kaldi’s drive thru just for the sake of the drive thru. 

Ellisville has always been supportive of our Chesterfield café, but remains its own distinct community in a different, high-traffic area with its own commuters, patterns, and needs. For our very first drive thru, we looked at our current operations and tried to figure out how we could fit everything into an 1,100 square foot space. Our current cafes are designed with the guest experience first, so we started with that same perspective.


So, what’s the new guest experience like? As soon as you enter the line, you’ll see digital menu boards, which will communicate with our POS system. This communication should provide the same familiarities as standing inside one of our cafes. For example, if we’ve sold out of blueberry muffins, they won’t be on the screens, as if you were waiting in line inside a cafe, examining our bakery case.

After you order, we’ve built what is known as a “6 car stack,” which is the length from order to our pickup window. We chose this length knowing we need time to craft your drinks and food orders, but still wanting to get your freshly made latte into your hands quickly. At the pickup window, you’ll be greeted by a barista at the register, standing beside our bakery case, just like any of our other cafes. They have quick access to brewed coffee, iced coffees, iced teas, and pastries, so simple orders can be served quickly.

Hand off of a drink at the Ellisville Drive thru

From there, peek around the corner and you’ll find our espresso machines, cold brew kegs, and smoothie blenders, just in front of the kitchen, where the burritos and egg bagels you love will be prepared. We also have a walk-up counter and condiment bar inside our front doors, in case you need to stretch your legs, have ordered online via Toast, or want to hang out on our large patio. A few parking spots are even dedicated for guests who are picking up online orders.


Whether you’re driving through or walking in to say good morning, we didn’t want a Kaldi’s drive thru to feel like any drive thru you’ve ever experienced. On the inside, we don’t have seating, but we laid a tile floor in the entryway and in the bathroom, hung beautiful wallpaper, and built shelving for plants, decorations, and of course, your ready-to-grab Toast orders. The space feels modern, welcoming, and is surrounded by meticulous landscaping.

The inside of the Ellisville cafe

We also wanted to ensure that our team member experience is just as pleasant. Drive thrus and commercial kitchens often feel like closed-off bunkers. We insisted on windows all over our new space, from the office in the rear of the space, to a high, wall-length window illuminating the espresso bar, and even inside the kitchen itself. The kitchen is bathed in natural light via east facing windows, making each morning a livelier, healthier space. Even before the electrical work was finished, with no lights working, the space was still well lit throughout.

Kaldis Coffee Team Members working inside the Ellisville drive-thru

The outside of the café received the same refined treatment, with a marble-like, weather resistant tower setting off the pickup area, brass light fixtures, a large patio, and manicured grounds below a large, backlit sign of our beloved goat.


Delivering the same, high quality coffee experience that we’re known for at speed requires cutting edge technology and we looked to an industry leader for help. The Eversys shot-master is a four group-head, two steam wand, algorithm driven wonder of an espresso machine. Constantly calibrated espresso and flawlessly steamed milk are hallmarks of Eversys, thanks to some amazing software and internals. Their systems help baristas with speed of service while maintaining our non-negotiable commitment to quality. We can’t wait to make you drinks using it!


Ellisville Goat Sign Lit Up

Throughout the years, we’ve served you from the cozy confines of DeMun on snowdays to the bustling sidewalks of Clayton, Kirkwood, and the Central West End. Chesterfield’s been an oasis in a concrete coffee desert, our Atlanta-area Emory cafes are social and academic hubs of activity, while Citygarden in downtown Saint Louis provides lush shade and great art all day. 

We’re thrilled that after nearly 30 years, you’ll get to experience an entirely new mode of service at a Kaldi’s Coffee cafe, while we hold firmly to the values that bring you back to us time and time again. We can’t wait to learn even more about what makes a cafe great, what you love the most about our latest iteration, and how we can continue to improve in our constant effort to provide you with the best coffee experience in the world.

We hope to see you soon — just pull right on up to the window and say hello!



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