What brings you into your favorite coffee shop? Is it the tasty coffee drinks, the hospitality, or could it even be the food? As the owner and operator of a coffee house you will need to take every opportunity to create interest and drive business in your shop.
Having interesting and exciting food options can be as important as how well you can make a latte. So, what unique foods could you offer at your coffee shop?
Based on recent emerging food trends in the United States, the answer is threefold; plant-based and healthful food options, CBD and THC infusions, and incorporation of holistic power boosters are on the rise. Incorporating one or more of these three food trends will allow your coffee shop to stand out for more than just a quality cold brew.
Health Foods Get The Green Light From Consumers
It is no surprise to see that healthier food options have become a staple in many grocery stores and restaurants around the country as veganism and other alternative diets have risen 600% over the past three years (Food Revolution). In addition, as consumers seek out options for a fitter lifestyle, many are turning to plant based products as well as alternatives to ingredients such as wheat, soy, and dairy.
These trends have begun to take hold on the East and West coasts of the country and have slowly begun to creep towards the center, but it has been slow going in the heartland of America. While some food service operations build their concept around alternative foods, there is a golden opportunity for many other established businesses to rethink their offerings and capture another demographic by offering these unique options. This is especially true in the Midwest, where these proxy food items have yet to really take hold.
Catering to the aforementioned trends is an easy adaptation for coffee shops, due to the fact that the alternative food movement has been in part driven forward by baked goods; tasty pastries and other bakery staples are standard offerings for many coffee shop concepts. The Institute of Food Technologists has stated that the demand for gluten free, vegan, and reduced fat and sugar options are “affecting the future of retail baking and food service segments” and will likely, in consequence, affect the food service industry as a whole.
Due to the fact that coffee shops cater to such a wide demographic it has been easy for alternative foods to find their niche there, while also infiltrating demographics who normally wouldn’t seek out such products, but who may be convinced take the leap with the proper suggestive salesmanship.
CBD And THC Offer A New Meaning To Being Buzzed On Caffeine
Everyone is familiar with the association between Dutch coffee shops and cannabis. Now that association can now be made with American coffee shops as well, due to the beginning of legalized marijuana and proliferation of CBD products around the country. Just like with the vegan and gluten free trends, marijuana products have found an easy introduction to the retail market through sales of confections at coffee shops. Producers of these infused confections have even begun to entice new consumers who would have never thought of trying cannabis because of its psychoactive properties with CBD-laced delights.
CBD, or active cannabinoids without psychoactive properties, have become an easy segway into cannabis products for those wishing to experience the positive effects of cannabis without the mind-altering experience. Consuming a CBD-infused muffin with your morning java is said to reduce anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance your overall mood going into the day. Regular CBD consumers are becoming true believers in its ability to also relieve aches and pains associated with inflammation.
Although THC and CBD products have started to become legal in the U.S., the FDA still forbids its mixture into foods and beverages for commercial sale. This hasn’t stopped producers in the slightest, as edibles have become widespread and infused beverages are certainly right behind. According to an article written by CNBC, CBD beverage infusions are gaining a significant following much like their edible predecessors. These include everything from non-alcoholic CBD “mocktails” to (you guessed it) CBD tinctures added to coffee drinks to enhance their consumers’ experience. Bartenders and baristas have now turned into CBD alchemists through their tinkering and toying with the (still not entirely understood) plant derivative.
Terpenes, or the pure extracted flavor agents of cannabis, have also become yet another tool in the toolbox for food and beverage operations. These sticky oils are secreted through the same glands as other cannabinoids but can also be found in all other fruits and herbs as well. Though they do not possess the psychoactive elements of THC they may contain some of the supposed health benefits of CBD and allow for a new and exciting way to flavor food and drink. A barista can now add any number of flavors to a coffee drink; from “girl scout cookies” and “white widow” to “granddaddy purp” and “sour diesel.” All with unique flavor profiles and linked benefits. An infographic courtesy of Leafly offers a more in-depth explanation of these details.
Most would agree with me when I say that the power and energy derived from consuming a cup of coffee is enough on its own to project me though the day but there is an emerging group of people that have begun to add a holistic approach to their morning coffee drinking rituals. Along with offering dietary selective foods, some coffee shops have also begun featuring innovative mixed coffee-based drinks and health-forward additions such as:
- “Bulletproof Coffee” – Bulletproof coffee is hardly what its name suggests, however, it is touted as the super brain octane fuel to really get you going in the morning. Roasty Coffee Magazine explains that this concoction of coffee, MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides, often derived from coconut or palm oils), and ghee butter provides the consumer with hunger suppression, steady long-lasting energy, and mental clarity. Truly, the perfect way to start your day.
- Maca Root – Maca root, or Peruvian ginseng, is a cruciferous plant lauded for its supposed medicinal and culinary applications. Maca is believed to reduce anxiety, boost energy, and is even supposed to afford consumers a little something extra in the bedroom! *Wink Wink* As a coffee additive its primary functions are to reduce the anxiety associated with caffeine consumption, provide an additional boost of energy without a crash, and offer a nutty flavor to your beverage.
- Macha – Also commonly known as “matcha;” is neither a coffee-based drink nor an additive, but a separate beverage altogether. Macha is a powder derived from the whole green tea leaf that has gained significant popularity as an alternative to both coffee and traditional black tea as a morning beverage option. Macha is full of antioxidants and amino acids and is said to provide better concentration, improved metabolism, and a bolstered immune system.
- Moringa Leaf Powder – Nicknamed the “miracle tree,” this plant has been used for centuries for both its nutritional and alleged medicinal properties. The moringa tree is native to India but also grows in Asia, South America, and Africa, where it has been used as an antiviral, antifungal, antidepressant, and simply as an anti-inflammatory. The powder that is made from its leaves is high in vitamins and minerals, and is easily added to both baked goods and drinks for added nutritional benefits.
As you can see, there is a wide world of emerging food trends that can be implemented while creating a unique culinary offering in your coffee shop. Whether it’s the unique flavors provided by cannabis terpenes, a vegan pastry crafted with the consumer in mind, or a powerful brain-fueling cup of bulletproof coffee, there is something that can be tailored to meet the cravings of any would-be coffee shop guest. So, forget the stale doughnuts and serve up a CBD-saturated cookie and moringa-imbued coffee instead!
To learn about foods that you could offer in a drive-thru coffee shop, click here!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many widely available alternatives to traditional all-purpose flour. These include nut flours (almond flour, pistachio flour, etc.), rice flour, and even flour made from dried banana.
Yes! There are several egg substitutes with similar protein and fat contents that are typically soy derived. However, if you aren’t into soy then applesauce or a mashed banana may also be used to replace eggs in a vegan recipe.
There has been no prescribed dosing suggested by the FDA so edibles can range from 2.5 milligrams to 25 milligrams and everywhere in between.
Scientists have only scratched the surface of the potential of these ancient medicines. The nutritional value of each has been mapped but their individual abilities to boost energy or be used as an antidepressant is still unknown. For more information on moringa powder see Medical News Today.
*None of these claims have been evaluated by the FDA or any other governing authority.
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!