Stir Coffee House

Online Ordering & Bicycle Delivery Service

A Rapid Adaptation to Covid-19 Case Study


Adapting a small business, under tight constraints, to the sudden onset of Covid-19 in March 2020

Stir Coffee Houses’ bicycle delivery service was an exercise in constraints, resourcefulness and adaptability in the face of the evolving Covid-19 health pandemic in early March 2020. It forced us to differentiate our products from our business. Stir is a small-town, community hub, through the interaction of coffee – not just selling selling by the cup. Because of tight time, public health and financial constraints,  we were forced to be creative to continue staying in business. We implemented a bicycle delivery service to serve our community the tools to sustain themselves with coffee while the cafe was closed to the public. I designed an order form from free tools, focusing on usability, to easily allow customers to order from us and staff to manage the orders. 

My Role

For this project, I was Designer and a Stakeholder (Cafe Manager). I collaborated with Stir Coffee House’s Owner.



Because of the abrupt implementation of public health measures, Stir Coffee House had tight constraints for developing guideline-compliant business solutions.

Because of the abrupt change to operations, I had three areas of consideration to understand. I needed to understand what other businesses were doing – who was closing, what services offered, how might we be directly affected etc. I had to understand what the the cafe’s business limitations are, and to audit what products and services Stir Coffee House offers. I found while some cafes were closing their doors, coffee roasters and suppliers would continue to operate. In addition to cups of coffee sales, Stir also carries a variety of retail items for at-home brewing. For any solution I found, I had no budget, it must adhere to public health guidelines at the time, and be implemented in 1 week before the cafe would also close it doors to the public.

Market Comparison

Using social media, we quickly saw how other cafes in the greater area were responding to the situation, as well as our providers.

Similar to Stir, many cafes were choosing to close to the public. Some others were offering take-out only. Coffee roasters though, (specifically our supplier) were continuing operation.

Product Audit

I considered what Stir Coffee House sold. Other than food and drink, we carried a variety of retail items: coffee beans, loose-leaf tea, home-brewing equipment, drink-ware, and various branded merchandise items. Fortunately, supply chain for these would remain intact.

While not as high volume sales as food/ drink, retail items like coffee beans are recurring, and brewing equipment are higher price points.

Pain Points
Health Order Compliant

The solution needed to support social distancing measures, and be flexible for new changes as they appeared.

finances copy
No Budget

There was no budget available for external services or tools. Our solution needed to be low cost (free) to implement and maintain.

Time Constraints

Had a 1 week deadline to find and implement a solution before the cafe would close to the public. 

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Our solution needed to be quick and simple to implement, understand and use – for both customers and staff


Designing an ordering and delivery service for coffee beans and other retail items, within the local community

From my assessment, Stir had one major product of focus – retail coffee bags. Although customers were staying home, their coffee habit remained. Customers from the local community could order online, and Stir would deliver to them by bicycle. Delivery to the customer complied with social distancing guidelines, and delivery by bicycle aligned with Stir’s environmental, community and fuel cost concerns. The  other solution to design for was the ordering system for this delivery program. I identified 3 proto-persona types who would use this system.

The Experienced

Early-adopter type. Usually tech-savvy and/or open to digital solutions. Familiar with Stir’s products

The Inexperienced

Less tech-inclined. Often has lots of questions about product or process. Needs guidance.

The Owner

Owner of Stir Coffee House. Tech-literate as long as there’s a structure or template to follow. New products need a short learning curve.

Proto Personas

I based my personas on stereotypes of my experiences with common customer interactions. I separated them into two major types, based on digital ability and experience with our products.

The third, Robert, is a specific person. I included him as a generalization of himself.

Design Solutions

I identified 3 solution areas:

1/ Pivot to Retail Item Sales

Because staff were being let go, so as to not be a transmission point, Stir couldn’t offer take-out service. Also, we agreed coffee beverages didn’t travel well for delivery. Fortunately, we had supply of retail items, especially coffee. Although customers were staying home, many still needed coffee for home-brewing.

Retail coffee bags and other items also have a shelf life, and scale decently against the labour of 1 person. Stir is also the only specialty coffee supplier in it’s geographic area.

2/ Bicycle Deliveries

With no budget, we couldn’t use a delivery service – the fees were prohibitive. Also, because Stir was closing to the public, and we had to let go of staff, only the owner was available to deliver. 

We decided to deliver by bicycle because:

  • It’s a novel approach, and felt more personal
  • Is consistent with Stir’s values of community and being environmentally conscious
  • There’s no cost for fuel
  • Geographic area which Stir serves is small enough to be cycled.
  • Delivering to customers saves them shipping costs.
  • Allows Stir to manage follow social distancing guidelines and manage interactions.
3/ Online Order System

The order system needed to be asynchronous, as only owner would be managing the system. Phone orders were impractical as no-one would be at the shop. And, again, with no budget, we couldn’t use an e-commerce service (eg. Shopify).

I built an order system using JotForm – a form building tool I’d had experience using before.  It’s a free, modular tool, with simple customizability and allowed email confirmations. Email confirmations allowed for payment arrangements to be managed off-platform (direct between customer and cafe).

Design & Implementation

Relying on past experience and resourcefulness to design a simple order form system, easily manageable for non-tech savvy users.

Since staff were being laid off, the tool needed to be simple for the owner of Stir Coffee House to manage and operate on his own. Because of the time and cost constraints, I designed the order system using the free form building tool JotForm. I had previous experience using this tool at a different role for inter-cafe ordering and thought the research time, learning curve and/ or cost of other tools was prohibitive. JotForm was also simple and flexible to use and update for a non-design-skilled person. Both myself (at the time) and the owner lacked visual design skills. I relied instead on written copy to guide users in ordering.

User Task Flow

Of the solutions, the order system is the main touch point for users. I used my two customer types to map out a rough flow through the order system for each.


At the time, lacking formal UI design training, I relied on text to guide users through the order process (as well as form a template Stir’s owner could copy when updates needed to be made). 

Information needed to be scannable and simple. Asking only enough essential information to complete a transaction.


Testing for the order system was very opportunistic. I relied on asking customers and staff to validate on the fly. I focused on if wording or instructions were clear, and making testing the automated notifications and emails were sending and receiving correctly. 

"It worked well!"

– M. Cook

Next Steps

While not the most visually appealing or technically polished, the delivery service was well received. Looking forward, with more skill and time, I’d address three issues.

1/ I’d like to conduct more formal usability tests – to see how well I addressed or missed customer pain points. 

2/ With design skills, I’d like to make the service more visually appealing, and fix hierarchy issues. 

3/ Integrate the order system better into Stir’s website and explore more dedicated e-commerce tools.


A great learning experience, rapidly iterating to a minimum viable product.

I’m proud of this project because it forced me to be resourceful. It was my first opportunity to design and ship a product to a real customer base. Now that I have more experience, there are a few areas I would like to change. First, with more time, I’d like to conduct more structured user interviews and usability tests. Second, with more skill, I’d like to improve on the visual hierarchy and appeal. Last, with a budget, I’d like to explore other dedicated e-commerce tools, to increase usability.