Coffee shops are about so much more than just serving coffee. They’ve become community meeting spaces, study spots, and the office away from the office building. With so much going on at a coffee shop, it makes sense that there should be some food options for sale at your coffee shop, as well.
So, what is the best type of food to sell at your coffee shop? Your food options should include cakes and bread, a variety of cookies, muffins, croissants and pastries, yogurt and oatmeal, as well as paninis, wraps, Italian-inspired sandwiches and flatbreads, and salads.
The key to serving food at a coffee shop is you need to consider what people will be coming in for. You’ll find there are different types of customers. You’ll have your early morning people who stop in to grab a coffee and head on to work. They may need something quick for breakfast, also. Then, there are the people who show up to study or work at the shop. They may enjoy something to snack on, as well as a breakfast or lunch. And, there are the anytime coffee drinkers who would love a coffee and an easy grab and go lunch like a sandwich or a salad. For this article, we’re going to look at some specific foods you should offer at your coffee shop.
Cakes and Bread
Cakes and bread are at the top of our list. Here’s why. The most obvious reason is people like cakes and bread. It’s not a hard sell. But, there’s more to it than that. These are types of foods that are typically enjoyed at all times of the day. They make great breakfasts, they’re good snacks, or they’re often enjoyed as desserts.
On top of that, cakes and bread can be sold at a high-profit margin. You’ll pay a lot less for cakes and bread from suppliers than what you’ll make off selling them. That’s probably the best reason for offering these in your coffee shop, right there.
Similar to the cakes and bread, you can get a good margin for profit out of selling cookies. Don’t go crazy with your cookie variety, though. Too many options are only going to lead to waste. Select a few of the most popular cookie flavors and offer those. Here are our recommendations:
- Shortbread – This is sort of the one-size-fits-all type of cookie. This will be a favorite for many customers. However, even for those who it’s not the favorite, it’s rare for someone not to like shortbread at all. It’s an all-around crowd pleaser flavor.
- Chocolate chip – We don’t need to say much about this one. Chocolate chip is a classic. Whether you have a chocolate lover looking for something to satisfy a craving or someone who just wants a sweet treat, chocolate chip cookies will sell well.
- Oatmeal – This one is also a classic. Oatmeal cookies match well with coffee, too. Because of its ingredients, an oatmeal cookie will sometimes be chosen for breakfast even. It’s a cookie that’s loved by many so you’ll want this included in your cookie selection.
Coffee and muffins really go hand in hand. Muffins are often thought of as a breakfast food, however, they also work well for snacks. Many moms and dads will drop in for a coffee with kids and a muffin is a perfect option for those parents to get for their little ones.
Just like with the cookies, it’s best just to offer a few of the most popular muffin flavors rather than too many choices. Some that make good offerings are blueberry, banana nut, poppy seed, and chocolate.
Croissants and Pastries
Croissants can be offered in different ways. You can sell simple butter or chocolate croissants. You can also make sandwiches with croissants.
Other pastries can sell well, too. You can offer pie slices, scones, tarts, or danishes. When you’re trying to decide what items you should sell, try to find some that will work for people with food sensitivities and allergies. Also, you want to offer both delicious treat-like food and healthy options so there’s something for everyone. For instance, you can offer pastries made with filo dough or different kinds of mini quiches as alternatives.
Yogurt, Granola, and Oatmeal
This group of foods is good for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. You can sell yogurt with granola or yogurt parfaits which have some fruit in them. It gives people a healthy choice that will help keep them full, but has many good vitamins and minerals in it, too. Many of the other choices we’ve mentioned are high in carbs, which is something many people try to avoid.
Oatmeal is another good offering of something easy to sell, easy to make, and can be sold in different flavors. It works for adults, kids, and even older babies and toddlers. Oatmeal also has a lot of nutritional value to it that many customers will be looking for. It’s touted to be one of the healthiest grains on the planet. It has a lot of antioxidants and fiber, too. The list of vitamins and minerals you’ll get from eating oats is about 10 strong. And, oats can help lower cholesterol levels and level out blood sugar.
Paninis and Wraps
As the day goes on and you transition to the afternoon, you’ll want to have foods that are identified more with lunch. Paninis are a must if you’re going to be doing more than just breakfast and sweet treats. These are hot-pressed sandwiches that often have melted cheese and meat in the center.
For those who would rather have something cold for lunch, a wrap will be a good choice. Wraps are easy to have pre-made and sealed up, too, so they can be part of your grab and go section if you like. You can offer wraps in varieties that have meat, as well as some that will work for vegan customers.
Italian-Inspired Sandwiches and Flatbreads
Ultimately, it’s up to you what kind of sandwiches you want to sell. However, we recommend Italian-inspired because of how popular they are. Anything with pesto usually sells well. You can do a tomato, mozzarella, and basil sandwich that customers will love, too. You should also have sandwiches with chicken on the menu, whether they’re Italian-inspired or not.
Flatbreads are well-liked by many people. It’s a healthier alternative to a pizza. You can put some of those same flavors into them but in a lighter version. Someone who comes in for an afternoon picks me up may love to see a flatbread variety on your menu. An iced latte and a flatbread pairs together quite nicely.
Here’s a quick note about the sandwiches. These should definitely be part of your grab and go section. Some of your early morning customers that are on their way to work will want to grab something they can have for lunch later. A good grab and go section lets you make more money off their transaction, rather than making them take that part of their business elsewhere.
Another part of your grab and go section should be salads. These should be pre-made and packaged with everything they’ll need to be included in the bowl. You are definitely going to have health-conscious customers who want to grab a salad for lunch. The more convenient you make the purchasing of a salad, the more likely they’re going to choose your option over one at the deli next door or the grocery store down the street. Even if yours is priced higher than those, if it’s super convenient, and you have a good selection, then grabbing their coffee and their salad right there together is likely what your customers will want to do.
Selling food in your coffee shop is a good idea. You want to be smart about what you offer, though. Coffee isn’t just a morning drink anymore. You want to serve some good breakfast selections, but also offer foods for later in the day. Offer items that will give you a high-profit margin like cakes, bread, and some pastries. Include sweet treats like cookies, pies, and muffins on your menu. Don’t forget the healthy options like yogurt, granola, and oatmeal. You’ll also want to offer foods that are good for lunch like paninis, sandwiches, flatbreads, and salads. Coffee is much more individualized these days. Make sure you offer foods that allow all of your customers to find something for their individual tastes.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can increase sales by upselling items to increase your per-transaction sales. You can offer more items and flavors that customers want. You can also create a loyalty program that brings customers back in more often.
Cakes and bread sell very well with coffee. The two usually taste well together and many customers aren’t looking for a meal to have with their coffee, so something like a piece of cake or a slice of bread makes a good choice.
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!