When it comes to point of sale (POS) systems, it pays to choose one that’s made for food-and-drink when you run a café. General POS systems may not have the specialised features essential for coffee shops, but hospitality EPOS will.

That said, a small café does not always require all the larger-scale operations of a big restaurant, so the complexity of the software also matters. For some, a simpler till system can be more efficient since there’s less to deal with, but a single cafe POS system to manage all daily operations including staff management and ingredient tracking can really save you time and money in the long run.

We have sifted through the UK options and give our take on the six best POS systems for cafes.

Cafe POS system Till cost* Best for Website
Lightspeed Restaurant £59+/mo Breadth of POS and operational features
Goodtill £29+/mo Low-cost POS with socially distanced ordering
TouchBistro £49+/mo User-friendliness and all-round value
iZettle Food & Drink £29/mo Small cafés with a single till
Square for Restaurants £0-£69/mo Cafés with multiple tills and a busy kitchen
Nobly £39+/mo Busy coffee shops on a budget

*Excluding VAT.

Cafe
POS
Best for Site
Lightspeed Restaurant Breadth of POS and operational features
Goodtill Low-cost POS with socially distanced ordering
TouchBistro User-friendliness and all-round value
iZettle Food & Drink Small cafés with a single till
Square for Restaurants Cafés with multiple tills and a busy kitchen
Nobly Busy coffee shops on a budget

Lightspeed Restaurant – many features for the price

Best for: Staff and order management features

Pricing: From £59 + VAT/mo per till

Compatibility: iPad only

Pros: Good customer support, offline mode, customisation options

Cons: Costs can rack up, some features most relevant for restaurants

Lightspeed Restaurant is a full-fledged restaurant POS system, but the breadth of features makes it very good for cafés wanting all shop floor and management operations covered by one system. The software works well offline, though card payments may still require a network connection.

It is relatively user-friendly, but setting up products and staff permissions can take longer than other POS systems because there are more settings and fewer in-app explanations for what each function refers to exactly. However, once you get the hang of it, the system will prove easy and clearly built for fast-paced businesses at any scale.

Lightspeed cafe POS system

Lightspeed Restaurant is not just for restaurants – it works well in a café too.

The features go way beyond just the basics. For instance, the table plan with open orders have the more amount of settings and functions we’ve seen in a hospitality app, and the list of all the different type of staff permissions is long. You can enter recipe ingredients in any units, track inventory levels, split bills in any way, customise the product menu in lots of different ways and set timed promotions. It also allows you to accept takeaways and delivery orders.

Lightspeed can connect with lots of different online ordering systems such as 5loyalty, Zuppler, Pepper and Lightspeed Delivery by Deliverect. There are therefore no limitations for those offering pickups, takeaway and delivery services – provided you can pay the additional cost of the integrated system.

Customer service is included in the plans 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You get free onboarding to help you set up the software and get your questions answered. There is no minimum contract, and you can choose to pay the subscription monthly, although annual plans are available for a lower price. The final pricing depends on your needs, as Lightspeed offers add-ons like customer loyalty features.

Lightspeed Restaurant costs
Licence per iPad £59 + VAT/month (annual plan)
£69 + VAT/month (monthly plan)
Integration with Uber Eats or Deliveroo £49-£119/month
Various additional add-ons Custom pricing
Lightspeed
Restaurant
costs
Licence per iPad £59 + VAT/month (annual plan)
£69 + VAT/month (monthly plan)
Integration with Uber Eats or Deliveroo £49-£119/month
Various additional add-ons Custom pricing

Payment integrations: iZettle, Paymentsense, SumUp

Can you try before committing? Yes, there’s a free 14-day trial without obligation.

Goodtill – well-adapted for socially distanced orders

Best for: Good features for a low overall cost

Pricing: From £29 + VAT/mo per till

Compatibility: iPad only

Pros: Table-side & online ordering features, choice of add-ons, offline mode

Cons: 12-month contract, no Android compatibility, extra cost for advanced features

Goodtill is an iPad EPOS system that starts at a low price: £29 + VAT for the core POS module. Cafés may then add the Hospitality module for an additional £9 per month and other more advanced POS modules such as advanced promotions, kitchen display and customer loyalty features. You sign up for a minimum of 12 months, though, so it is a bit of a commitment.

The till software gets good reviews by users and has a nice, adaptable interface for the checkout screen. Whether you need more than the Core POS module depends on how complex your food and drink operations are. For instance, the Hospitality module includes ingredients management, customer profiles, table management and tabs – none of which are in the Core module. The till software works offline, so poor internet is no barrier.

Photo: Goodtill

The Goodtill self-service checkout can replace face-to-face ordering in your cafe.

Goodtill is currently one of the best low-cost options for coffee shops that need alternative setups for social distancing. At no monthly cost, you can create a web page to add to your website or social media profile for ordering food online. The only thing you pay for is transactions. This system, called Goodeats, also allows you print QR codes for customers to scan with their phones to order and pay away from the till.

Alternatively, you can add a Self Checkout Terminal (additional cost), enabling customers to order at their table or the front of the coffee shop from an iPad menu.

Goodtill costs
Core POS module £29 + VAT/month per iPad licence
Optional modules: Hospitality, Kitchen Display Screen, Customer-Facing Display £9 + VAT/month each
Optional modules: Advanced Stock, Advanced Promotions, Loyalty £18 + VAT/month each
Optional module: Business Analytics £29 + VAT/month
Goodeats transactions No monthly cost
1.9% +20p for table ordering & drop-off
2.9% + 20p for collection & delivery
No charge for first £1k of transactions
Goodtill
costs
Core POS module £29 + VAT/month per iPad licence
Optional modules: Hospitality, Kitchen Display Screen, Customer-Facing Display £9 + VAT/month each
Optional modules: Advanced Stock, Advanced Promotions, Loyalty £18 + VAT/month each
Optional module: Business Analytics £29 + VAT/month
Goodeats transactions No monthly cost
1.9% +20p for table ordering & drop-off
2.9% + 20p for collection & delivery
No charge for first £1k of transactions

Goodtill syncs with the accounting programs FreeAgent, QuickBooks and Xero. The EPOS system can connect with a choice of traditional card machines and contract-free card readers, meaning you can start out cheap and later upgrade to a long-term card machine contract.

Payment integrations: Barclaycard Business, iZettle, Paymentsense, Square, SumUp

Can you try before committing? Yes, you can get a 30-day free trial or book a demo through Goodtill’s website.

TouchBistro – easy for a feature-rich till system

Best for: User-friendliness

Pricing: From £49 + VAT/mo per till

Compatibility: iPad only

Pros: Intuitive app, affordable, lots of features

Cons: Doesn’t work on Android, customer loyalty features cost extra, 12 months’ commitment

Primarily built for restaurants, TouchBistro is an EPOS that also works perfectly for cafés. The interface is easy to grasp upon first use, and it has lots of features to manage any type of food-and-drink business. It only works on iPad, not Android devices or computers. You can pay for the software annually, biannually, quarterly or monthly, but you have to commit to 12 months as a minimum.

Photo: TouchBistro

TouchBistro iPad on a restaurant counter

You can use TouchBistro either in landscape or portrait mode on the iPad.

The features are wide-ranging, including functions to help you sell more. It also has essentials like table plans, customer tabs, advanced split bills, food menus with modifiers, tipping and staff accounts with custom permissions. You can save customer details in a library and accept gift cards, but customer loyalty features don’t go much beyond this unless you subscribe to a loyalty plan through TouchBistro (price depending on how advanced you want it).

With a Deliverect integration (additional cost), you can connect TouchBistro with online online platforms like Uber Eats and Deliveroo. TouchBistro POS also has its built-in options for pick-up and takeaway orders, but these are not connected to an online ordering system by default.

Friendly 24/7 customer support is included in the price, either though telephone, emailing or directly through the app. The ease of use in the app is excellent, as it shows explanations next to settings so you understand what every little function does without having to look it up online.

TouchBistro is a hybrid EPOS system, meaning it can run both via your local server and in the cloud. With just one iPad till, it will work if the internet is down, then upload sales and changes in the cloud when WiFi is back. A café with multiple iPad tills will need a server to keep iPads synced up, which TouchBistro can provide. With the internet working, the software will run smoothly regardless of how many tills you have.

TouchBistro costs
iPad licence, 1st £49 + VAT/month
iPad licence, 2nd-3rd £45 + VAT/month each
iPad licence, 4th-9th £40 + VAT/month each
iPad licence, 10+ Custom quote
Loyalty features From £29 + VAT/month
TouchBistro
costs
iPad licence, 1st £49 + VAT/mo
iPad licence, 2nd-3rd £45 + VAT/mo each
iPad licence, 4th-9th £40 + VAT/mo each
iPad licence, 10+ Custom quote
Loyalty features From £29 + VAT/mo

Payment integrations: Barclaycard Business, Paymentsense, Square

Can you try before committing? Yes, TouchBistro offer a 7-day free trial without registration, and a further 21 days’ continuation of the free trial if you create an account.

iZettle Food & Drink – efficient, cheap and not too complex

Best for: Budget-conscious cafés

Pricing: £29 + VAT/mo per till

Compatibility: iPad only

Pros: Works offline, easy to use, low cost

Cons: Not for Android tablets, features a bit limited, customer support can be slow

iZettle Food & Drink is an easy-to use EPOS system built for small eateries like food trucks, bars and cafés. It works on iPad only, but an accompanying phone app can track sales anywhere. You pay per iPad till and there’s no contract, so it can be cancelled any time. The features are not as extensive as, say, Lightspeed Restaurant, but it covers the essentials.

Photo: iZettle

The Food & Drink EPOS looks good with the iZettle hardware bundle.

For example, the till can send orders to the kitchen, you can create user PINs for staff and tailor the menu layout, and the product variants, modifiers and portion sizes enable you to individualise drinks and food orders. End-of-day reports can be generated from the iPad, or you can view sales reports any time from the till and web portal.

The POS system can send payment links for remote payments, accept cash, cards or “payment on account” for customers recorded in the system.

iZettle integrates with Xero and QuickBooks for accounting. There are no integration options for online ordering systems yet – but it should be available sometime in the Autumn of 2020. The software has the option to mark food transactions for takeaway, but that is only to distinguish between different eat-in and take-out VAT rates.

Customer support is included and can be reached by phone, email and web chat seven days a week between 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

iZettle Food & Drink costs
Licence per iPad £29 + VAT/month
iZettle Food
& Drink costs
Licence per iPad £29 + VAT/mo

In terms of card machines, there’s not much choice – iZettle Food & Drink only integrates with iZettle Reader. Card payments cost a fixed rate of 1.75% per transaction through the card reader.

Payment integration: iZettle

Can you try before committing? Yes, you can request an offer or trial from iZettle.

Square for Restaurants – good value for several tills

Best for: Multiple tills in one café

Pricing: £0-£69 + VAT/mo per location

Compatibility: iPad only

Pros: Price covers unlimited tills in one location, 24/7 support, no commitment

Cons: Can only use Square card machines, included features not that extensive

Square is a good place to start for many small businesses, because Square for Restaurants has a Free plan that could be sufficient for some cafés. The Restaurants Plus subscription has a wider selection of features for £69 + VAT (no commitment required). All of the plans include an unlimited number of till licences at one location, so it could be very good value for multi-till cafes.

This hospitality-focused Square POS, however, is only compatibly with iPad, not Android devices.

Photo: Square

Square POS for cafe

Although built for restaurants, Square for Restaurants can suit many cafés.

Some of the features are advanced tipping and service charge options, table plan with orders attached, food menus and items with variants, employee management, courses sent to the kitchen timed according to your preferences, and gift cards. Square for Restaurants does not have ingredient tracking, but you can set individual stock levels which automatically hide the product when out of stock.

Other advanced features in almost any area can be added through available integrations like MarketMan for food inventory management and TapMango for advanced customer loyalty functions.

Square for Restaurants also integrates with Deliverect for food ordering on Just Eat and other platforms for a discounted price of £39 + VAT per month. Additionally, you can connect the cafe till system with Square Online Store for your very own click-and-collect system, or print QR codes for table-side ordering (included as standard).

Square for Restaurants works with Square Reader for card payments for 1.75% per card transaction. While Square Terminal can sync with the system for tableside payments, it has not got access to all the Square for Restaurants features available on iPad.

If the WiFi or network connection goes, you can still accept cash payments and use certain features on iPad. You get 24/7 customer support on the Plus subscription, and only weekday support between 9am-5pm on Free.

Costs
Square for Restaurants subscriptions Free: £0/mo
Plus: £69 + VAT/mo
Costs
Square for Restaurants subscriptions Free: £0
Plus: £69 + VAT/mo

Transactions through Square are automatically settled in your bank account the next working day, or within minutes for an extra 1% transaction fee.

Payment integration: Square

Can you try before committing? Yes, get a 30-day free trial of the Plus plan – or just use the Free plan indefinitely.

Nobly – smooth cafe POS system for busy tills

Best for: Busy cafés on a budget

Pricing: From £39 + VAT/mo per till

Compatibility: iPad only

Pros: Offline mode, ease of use, 24/7 UK support