Coffee is essential to the routines of many, many people. There is a need for coffee shops no matter where you live. It gives people a space to meet up with their friends, get some work done, maybe do some studying, or just have a quiet moment with their favorite kind of coffee. But, not all people like the same kind of coffee.
The types of coffees you should offer in your coffee shop should be black coffees, such as brewed, espresso, and Americanos. Espresso-based milk coffee drinks—lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, mochas, and flat whites. Finally, make sure to offer cold coffee including iced lattes, cold brew, iced cappuccinos, and frappes. Depending on your customer’s tastes add to these basics.
Now, let’s go into these with a little more detail. We’ll look at what’s in these kinds of coffees and why you should be offering them.
You have to serve black coffee. Black coffee is kind of like the foundational item that everything else in your coffee shop will build on top of. When we’re talking about black coffee, though, we don’t mean only brewed coffee. Although, you need to offer some options for simple and delicious brewed coffee, too.
- Brewed coffee – Some customers will be coming in looking for a regular cup of coffee. They won’t want anything “fancy,” just brewed coffee that is roasted to their liking. It’s best if you offer at least one light roast, one medium, and one dark roast. Also, be sure to include decaf as an option. Not everyone wants caffeine in their coffee, or are even allowed to have it per doctor’s instructions.
- Espresso – This is a given if you’re going to be making all of the specialty drinks that people love. Regardless of those other drinks, make sure you have the option for a single, double, or triple espresso. That means you’ll need to have cups for these, as well.
- Americano – For this one, you just need to add hot water to the espresso so it gets diluted. It will have a different taste than both brewed coffee and espresso, and a strength that is much like that of brewed coffee. The more shots of espresso that go into the Americano, the stronger it will be.
Espresso-Based Milk Coffee Drinks
These are the “fancy” or specialty coffee drinks. These can be tailor made to you and your customers liking. This can be done by changing the number of espresso shots, the type of milk it’s made with, the flavor of syrup you want, and whether you want sugar-free, or not. You can create your menu based on popular flavors that should be offered all the time, and then include some rotating, seasonal flavors that your customers will look forward to when the time is coming.
- Latte – Lattes could easily end up being your most popular coffees. These are creamy, milky, coffees that can be flavored with all sorts of syrups. Lattes have more milk in them than cappuccinos and macchiatos. With a latte, you get hot steamed milk added to the shots of espresso. There is also a thin layer of frothy milk on top.
- Cappuccino – Cappuccinos are better for customers who want a creamy specialty coffee drink, but with a more even distribution of the ingredients. Unlike a latte that has more milk than it does coffee, a cappuccino has equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. Also, while lattes are blended, cappuccinos are layered with the espresso on the bottom, then the steamed milk, and then a layer of milk foam. Cappuccinos are often ordered with various flavored syrups in them, too.
- Macchiato – Now we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to espresso-based milk coffee drinks. A macchiato is traditionally made with more coffee than milk. The base is espresso and then a shot of milk is added to it. Consequently, macchiatos have more flavor than other milk-based coffee drinks. Some variations of a macchiato include adding more milk, or there are some flavored macchiatos, also.
- Mocha – A mocha has steamed milk and espresso, but there’s an additional ingredient—chocolate. Mochas can be offered in an array of flavors. For instance, the peppermint mocha is highly popular, as is the white chocolate mocha. Mochas have a heavier coffee taste. This is because of the chocolate and espresso together combined with less milk.
- Flat white – Essentially, a flat white is espresso and steamed milk. There are variations of it from coffee shop to coffee shop, but the traditional flat white has two shots of espresso and is served with less milk in it than a latte. It’s usually served with only a very thin layer of milk foam on top. Customers who want to taste more coffee but still get a creamy, smooth feeling drink will typically like the flat white.
Looking what are the best beans to brew? Check out our article HERE!
Cold Coffee Drinks
Coffee doesn’t always need to be hot. There are plenty of times when customers will be looking for a cold, refreshing pick-me-up, coffee beverage. Over the last couple of decades, cold coffee has exploded in its popularity. So you certainly need to have the capability to make just as many cold coffee drinks as hot.
- Iced latte – An iced latte is just like a hot latte, except it has cold milk and lots of ice in it. You can flavor it with syrups just like a hot latte, as well as put additional shots of espresso in it. You can add whipped cream to some of these if desired, too.
- Cold-brew – A cold brew coffee is not just iced coffee. You can make iced coffee drinks by using hot brewed coffee and pouring it over ice or adding ice to the glass after pouring the coffee in. Cold brew coffee is brewed with a completely different process. The coffee beans are soaked in water that is either cold or at room temperature for a minimum of 12 hours. During that time, the caffeine, oils, and sugars are pulled from the beans to make a cold-brewed coffee with a low acidity level.
- Iced cappuccino – The iced cappuccino is layered like its hot counterpart with espresso, milk, and milk foam, but with ice, as well. It can be flavored and served with whipped cream in some cases. You’ll want to make sure you have a cold setting on your milk frother for serving these so you don’t have to put hot milk foam on top of a cold drink.
- Frappe – This can be made with, or without coffee. They’re blended drinks that include water, sugar, milk, and sometimes coffee. They can be made with all sorts of different flavored syrups and topped with whipped cream and other addictions, as well.
Final Thoughts…This Is a Start
These are all really good options for you to serve in your coffee shop. Why? Because they’re tried and true so you know they’ll be easy to sell. Do the best you can to serve a good variety of drinks from each of these categories. People’s coffee preferences have become very personal. You want your customers to feel like they can get exactly what they like customized for their tastes. You’ll also want to do some research in your area to see if there are other options that you should have on the menu that is being offered somewhere else, or for anything that may sell well, but isn’t being offered at any competitors. Choose the flavors you offer wisely, as well. Take your decisions seriously, but have fun making your choices, too.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few ways you can stand out from the crowd with your coffee shop. The quality and taste of your coffee will be the best way you can stand out. If you make better coffee than everyone else in the area, you’ll stand out for sure. Also offering menu items that aren’t offered in other shops around the community will help you standout. When you do that, make sure you market that so people know there’s something different in your shop. Finally, your pricing can make you stand out. If you’re serving coffee that’s equal in quality to your competitors, but you price yours lower, that will give you a leg up on your competition.
You have to let the community know you’re there. Make your coffee shop visible. Put up signs, get out to events, do tasters, and establish a strong presence on social media. One thing coffee shop owners don’t think about sometimes is the importance of branded takeout cups. People will see those when your customers take them to work or other places they visit. That’s good marketing.
Offer quality coffee at a good, competitive price. You can also give out coupons in the community. Or, maybe even better, develop a loyalty program that could be as simple as a punch card that gives the customer a free coffee after so many purchases.
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!