Coffee video games are having a moment, and I’m loving every bit of it. In the last two years there has definitely been a jump in coffee games made by indie developers: we’ve seen everything from Pokémon baristas, a coffee shop brawler, and a visual novel marrying necromancy and coffee. Up until early 2020, I never even knew video games centered around coffee culture existed. When I discovered Animal Crossing players curating their own cafes, it opened my eyes to this rad genre of games. Now I’m hooked.
Now 2022 is poised to be the best year ever for coffee video games. From cat cafe builders to a coffee horror game (never thought I’d see those two things together), there is a caffeinated title for everyone on this list. Let’s explore!
First reported by Sprudge’s own Zac Cadwalader, Espresso Tycoon is nearly set for release, and fans are buzzing in anticipation! This is the game you’ll want to play if you ever had the passing thought of running a cafe. Tycoon-style business simulation games have been around since the early ’70s players, but this time gamers will have the opportunity to customize and operate their own cafe exactly the way they want.
DreamWay Games’ Espresso Tycoon ups the ante by leaving all the decisions in your hands. This is not your typical cafe game where you add furniture and a menu then see your profits rise. This puts you in the driver’s seat. Where will your cafe be located? Will you serve just lattes or add a full program? How much should things cost? Who should you hire? And how will you run a PR campaign? There’s even an option to collaborate with influencers.
Coffee enthusiasts will enjoy the number of choices you have when serving drinks. Espresso Tycoon is about coffee, after all. You get to choose the origin of the beans, acidity, and even the design of the latte art which can be created with the “3D coffee editor.”
This game is not for the faint of heart. Every decision you make will affect your shop’s success. Either you come out on top, or you fizzle out.
Add Espresso Tycoon to your Steam wishlist or request a playtest from the developers. The demo is “coming soon.”
Cat Cafe Manager
For a lighter and cuter experience, Cat Cafe Manager is a new fast-paced business simulator set to release in 2022. We’re no strangers to cat cafe games around these parts, but unlike last year’s popular cat cafe simulator, Calico, Cat Cafe Manager focuses more on the operations, placing emphasis on your customer service and feline friendships. As one of the regulars says, “cats and coffee? Now that’s synergy, baybee!” Indeed it is.
The game feels very familiar, and gives me Diner Dash vibes. Thankfully, there’s more to do than just run tables. You’ll be in charge of cafe operations and petting the rescue cats, lots and lots of cats. Starting from humble beginnings, as the cafe manager, you’re responsible for renovating the space to become the locals’ favorite coffee shop, not that you have any competition to worry about (unlike in Espresso Tycoon).
Add stylish furniture, develop new menu items, and build a rapport with regulars to unlock secrets and gifts. There’s also a cat deity to keep your eye out for. Looks like Cat Cafe Manager is more than just running a coffee shop, after all.
Currently, the developers, Roost Games, are tying up “loose ends” as mentioned in their dev log and squashing any bugs they come across.
Wishlist Cat Cafe Manager on Steam.
Switching gears a bit, Pekoe is for our tea lovers. If you’re looking for a more relaxing and cozy playing experience, Pekoe focuses on the bliss of crafting the perfect cup of tea. And of course, there are cats. (I’m sensing a theme.)
As the developers, appropriately named Kitten Cup Studios say, “Pekoe is a cute cat-filled tea-making simulation game about taking the time for self-care and connecting with the things that make you happy.” Sold.
There’s no need to run around frantically: Pekoe is for those who love the intentionality of crafting a delicious cuppa. As the new teahouse owner, you’ll learn the ins and outs of tea harvesting, brewing, and serving various teas. And unique to this title, you will learn and perform tea ceremonies and rituals.
Up until now there has yet to be a game that I’ve come across that teaches you about the actual coffee, or in this case, tea plant. With an emphasis on the overall experience, you’ll have the chance to learn about different types of teas and peak harvest times. Your goal is to build up your recipe book and craft the townsfolk their favorite drinks. Like other simulation titles, you’ll eventually be able to upgrade and customize your teahouse for an even better experience.
Slated to release sometime in 2022, you can wishlist Pekoe on Steam.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus & Butterfly
Sprudge readers will already recognize this title. Coffee Talk is back and ready for more in Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly. This visual novel/latte art slinging game is a direct sequel to the first, set in a fantasy alternate Seattle in 2023.
Based on a demo released during Toge Productions’ anniversary sale (January 17th-19th), Episode 2 closely resembles the first Coffee Talk game released in 2020. The gameplay is pretty straightforward and easygoing in terms of your role. If you’re a barista IRL, this will feel pretty familiar, just pixelated.
As it states in the title, the developers have added new tea options to the lineup, specifically Hibiscus and Buttery Pea. Your customers are curious enough to try them, but it may take a few times to get the recipe and pour down pat. Luckily you can keep trying if your rosetta is looking a little funky the first few times around. Other than that, not too much has changed. You’re still the same barista in the same cafe, talking with regulars and some new faces while serving up a dose of caffeine and respite.
Wishlist Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly on Steam.
The Closing Shift
If you haven’t already noticed, coffee games generally skew more on the cute side or try to make the game feel as realistic as possible. So when Closing Shift, a new immersive Japanese horror game, popped up on Steam, I just had to see more.
I’m not going to lie, I am not the horror-lovin’ type. I avoid the genre at all costs, but in the name of journalism, this game was too good to pass by. We’ve covered serving coffee to the dead. So, it felt only right to mention a horror game on this list.
Closing Shift is a first-person walking simulator where you play as a barista on the closing shift at a cafe. The brother duo behind the game, known as Chilla’s Art, has been cranking out horror games since 2018. They have yet to release a trailer, but the screenshots of the cafe just look creepy. The visual scape is reminiscent of old Japanese horror films, think the Ringu (The Ring), so very grungy. If Closing Shift is anything like its predecessors, expect lots of jump scares.
Apparently, “the game will drive you insane”—was that the espresso machine, or did the door just open?
Wishlist Closing Shift on Steam if you dare.
Brianna Fox-Priest is a freelance journalist in Oklahoma City covering coffee and video games, and the co-host of Bits & Pixels. Read more Brianna Fox-Priest on Sprudge.