You own your coffee shop, but now you are considering opening a drive thru. What foods should you offer for your new drive-thru coffee shop?
The best foods to offer at a drive thru coffee shop should be ready-made or very quick-to-prepare meals like premade sandwiches, pizza, wraps and croissants. The less preparation the better as this means less labor costs and faster service which equals more profit.
Coffee shops usually have a smaller average sale per person. The average customer will order only a coffee and maybe a pastry to go with it. Making the food and drinks quick to prepare will increase customer satisfaction for fast, efficient service.
Your goal as a drive-thru coffee shop is to get people through as fast as possible while providing exceptional service. This goal can be difficult to achieve if you have too much hot food on your menu.
9 Foods to Feed Your Drive Thru Customers
Try these basic food items to serve to your drive thru coffee shop customers.
Pre-package some of your coffee shop’s most popular cake selections. Choose and package the cakes ahead of time before rush hour to avoid any out of stock issues.
Analyze your sales throughout the week to see what types of cakes sell the most. The popular cakes are usually chocolate or vanilla, but this could vary based on your customers’ preference and your location.
Pre-packaged sandwiches to heat per order for your customers. Offer breakfast sandwiches such as bacon, egg, and cheese or egg white and spinach with a spicy mayonnaise.
For lunch, have chicken with mozzarella cheese and fresh basil or a standard deli meat sandwich with vegetable fixings.
Vary up the sandwich offerings so that your clients have many choices.
Offer regular croissants for clients to enjoy with their coffee. Get creative and make croissants with a cream cheese or chocolate filling. You can even have croissant sandwiches with meat and vegetables in between for customers that love savory croissants.
Again, make sure you prepackage and prepare your wraps. The most popular wraps usually have meat such as ham, bacon, sausage, pastrami and turkey. As an alternative you can also create vegetarian wraps with vegetable fixings like tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, avocado, and spinach.
Spice up your wraps with various meat and vegetable options to keep your customers interested. Wraps are perfect for your customers who are on-the-go and need a quick bite to eat.
- Pralines and chocolates
Chocolates and pralines are a good thing to sell quickly with a large margin in a coffee shop. These small delicious chocolates go perfectly with coffee or tea and are worth recommending to customers who you know have a sweet tooth.
If well prepared, delicious French macarons attract many customers with their colorful and tasty appearance. It is worth placing them on view. They go perfectly with coffee and can be sold in batches. They are easy to package in a box or bag for takeout.
- Toasted Meals
Offer cheese and tomato sauce toast, avocado and egg toast or ham and cheddar toast. Try out French toast sticks for a sweeter option. Most everyone eats toast and toasting bread with a few ingredients is quick and easy to assemble.
- Omelets, Pancakes and Crepes
This may seem like a lot of work however if your drive thru coffee shop has enough space and employees, consider preparing and selling pancakes, omelets and crepes with the addition of delicious ingredients such as chocolate, fruit, or ham, spinach leaves and more. These items are quicker to prepare then you think and something that most everyone loves to eat. Again you need to have the staff for this however if successful your coffee shop drive thru can become known for its breakfast offerings as well as its coffee.
- Chips or Popcorn
Chips or popcorn may sound unusual for a coffee shop drive thru, however many people with children or even for themselves are looking for alternatives to snack on while at work or where ever they are traveling to after your drive thru. Try to partner with name brand or local brand vendors to receive personal sized bags of chips and popcorn to sell to your customers with their meals and drinks.
- Pizza slices
Artisanal pizzas are a great fit for a coffee shop and their ingredients have a low operational cost, so including them on your menu is a great idea! The ingredients cost for a large pizza averages around $4 while you can sell the item for upwards of $15.
You can prepare the pizzas ahead of time and then heat them to order when a customer requests a slice. Offer a variety of flavors such as plain, 3 meat, barbecue and more to give your customers many tasty choices to suit all their pizza moods.
For more ideas about what you could sell in your coffee shop, click here.
Promotional ideas for your drive thru coffee shop.
Reusable cups and branded merchandise. Consider having a reusable coffee cup promotion to get your customers coming to your drive-thru coffee shop. You can tweak these promotion options to fit your desired profit margin and branding image. By offering reusable coffee cups you are not only saving the environment but also saving costs on coffee cups each time your regular customers come back.
- Sell reusable coffee cups for customers who love purchasing your coffee and teas many times throughout the week. When they are stocked for the first time in your shop, run a promotion where you give a free reusable coffee cup for the entire first day.
- Once this promotion runs out, sell the reusable cups for 20% off retail price for a week.
- You can run a promotion where if a customer brings your cup back to your café 10 times that he or she can get a free coffee or tea on their 11th
- When there are local fairs or community days in your area, set up a table and sell your branded coffee cups along with coffee and food. Hand out free branded merchandise of your choice, so customers can remember your brand and want to come visit your shop in the future.
- Have customers enter a raffle at one of these community days or local fairs so that they can win branded merchandise.
Important Factors to Consider Before Opening Your Drive-thru Coffee Shop
After the first year 27% of restaurant startups failed; after three years, 50% of those restaurants were no longer in business; and after five years 60% had gone south. At the end of 10 years, 70% of the restaurants that had opened for business a decade before had failed.
Consider the following before you open your drive-thru coffee shop:
- What is your selling proposition?
- What set you apart from the coffee shop down the street?
- What is your coffee specialty and food specialty on the menu?
- How do you plan to market yourself to new customers?
- Do you have coupons you can hand out to new customers?
- Do you have loyalty cards to hand out to new customers to encourage them to come to your coffee shop more often?
- Where should you place your shop in the community to gain the most possibility of foot traffic to your coffee shop?
- Is there a local college or university that has an open building where you can place your coffee shop?
- Where do most of your target market congregate in your town so that you can gain access to the most foot traffic?
Whatever you decide to offer on your menu, make sure you run a few tests first to make sure your customers like your offerings. If you have the ingredients for an item on your menu that is not getting ordered, that means the ingredients are not getting used unless they can be used in building another item. Minimize the amount of food that expires quickly, so that you can profit the most from the food and drinks your customers purchase regularly.
Frequently Asked Questions
On average the most popular item sold at a coffee shop is drip coffee. Working adults love their coffee in the morning to power them through their workday hence why it is so popular. The most popular food items are sandwiches and pastries.
● Source high quality coffee beans from a notable supplier.
● Hire trained baristas that can make simple and complex java creations.
● Keep track of how much food you sell on average daily then determine in the future how much food you will need so you do not throw out too much at the end of the day.
● Analyze your daily sales to see what is popular and what can be removed from your menu, so you are not wasting profit on unwanted food.
● Find out more information about what food and drink items your clients like more by:
● Reviewing customer receipts to see what foods and drinks are normally ordered together.
● Do daily and weekly tallies of each type of food and drink sold.
● Remove items off the menu if they sell less than 100 units per week. (varies on your location and traffic)
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!