Like most businesses, generally speaking at some point you'll need to establish your coffee shop website as a legal entity. The question of needing a license is typically asked to ensure you're protected against any litigation, not in conflict with local government regulations, and able to comply with business related tax guidelines.

So...

Do you need a license to sell coffee online?

The specifics will depend on your location, but generally the answer is almost certainly yes.

To elaborate..

You’ll need certification from a the governing body in your country that regulates food.

UK Flag

For instance, in the U.K. you'll need to register as a "food business" with the FSA. 

U.S. Flag

In the U.S. you would need a business license to protect you from liability and certification from the FDA. Things get a bit more complicated from here, as requirements and laws also vary from state to state. For instance if you operate in California, you'll need a CFO (Cottage Food Operation) License Class B (Class A allows you to sell direct to consumer from your home or farmer's market, Class B allows you to sell to businesses). More information on those regulations can be found here.

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In Canada, you'd need to register with Safe Foods for Canada, Food and Drugs Act, Packaging and Labeling Act, and there are specific regulations for coffee.

Home Based Businesses

It's also possible that, depending on your location, you'll need to apply for a "home based business" license. This can vary from region to region. Often a "home business" is treated the same as anything else but a few areas do issue special permits for home businesses.

In Summary..

  • Yes, you will need some type of license to sell coffee online.
  • Above and beyond the normal "business" licenses, you'll need to investigate country specific requirements for food businesses. You'll likely need certifications to comply with food processing, handling, and packaging laws.
  • License and permit requirements can vary considerably, not only from country to country but sometimes even from one city to the next.
  • Unfortunately there's no shortcuts / quick answers.. you'll need to contact your municipal level government to inqure about required forms and permits.
  • Home based businesses sometimes have their own requirements and permits.