Coffee: what’s the buzz all about?

While coffee may not be your top source of revenue, the growing popularity of coffee drinks can help build your restaurant’s bottom line. Studies show that nearly three-in-four Americans drink it every day and 36 per cent drink three to five cups daily, so an opportunity exists for restaurants to increase profits. How can operators stand out and capture those sales?

From on-site to off-premise to LTOs, offering great coffee is an easy way to appeal to your guests and including top trends on your menu can help raise sales and get attention for this part of your menu.

Hot options

What are customers looking for when choosing hot varieties? 31 per cent order filter coffee, 32 per cent prefer flat whites, 29 per cent order cappuccinos or lattes, and 19 per cent order espressos. Flavour counts too, as many coffee-drinkers are looking for lattes with flavour shots (38 per cent), so it may make sense to add a few flavours to your roster to address this demand.

According to studies, most people drink coffee because they like the way it tastes, so operators looking to add to their roster should prioritize flavour, offer simple to-go options, and promote this part of their menu to increase guest cheque totals.

Cold options

Many consumers are choosing cold versions as a way to treat themselves year-round. While cold coffee drinks were once most popular on hot summer days, cold brew popularity has risen over 300 per cent since 2016, with a 45 per cent increase since January 2023.

As cold coffee drinks continue to be popular for social media content, research shows that it’s younger customers who are driving sales in this category, enjoying the customization options, flavours, and toppings. Adding these to the menu may allow restaurants to attract a younger demographic and build brand recognition online.

Alcoholic options

Today’s consumers are not just fans of hot and cold varieties, they are also interested in caffeine-based alcoholic beverages, with 25 per cent of people enjoying coffee martinis, 35 per cent enjoying Irish coffees, and 30 per cent ordering coffee liqueurs. At Starbucks, cold drinks bring in 75 per cent of their sales, and as they tend to cost more, adding cold coffee specialty drinks to your menu could help you maximize your margins.

Consider adding a coffee to the above-mentioned cocktails or mocktails on your menu (or create your own) for an add-on your guests can get excited to try.

Create a buzz

Creating the dedicated menu is the first step, but you need to give people a reason to try it out. Coffee lends itself to a variety of promotions, and whether it’s an LTO or a permanent item, social media can be very effective in generating attention for your latest creation. 34 per cent of consumers have ordered a caffeinated drink after seeing it on social media, and 67 per cent of these customers said that the drink was worth the hype.

Focus on taste, listen to your customers, and promote your coffee creations to raise revenues and stand out this season.