The question often comes up, ‘how do I design/improve my coffee menu?’ We could answer with information about knowing your audience, your competition, your vision etc. Really, it's about keeping it simple and making customers comfortable with the ordering journey - with a splash of seasonal drinks to keep your offer current. Hopefully this blog will help you on your adventure if you’re launching a new business, or perhaps just looking to modernise your offer. So enjoy some free knowledge. If you want more, feel free to get in touch with us. All of our wholesale partners get to use our experience and knowledge for free.
Simple for the customer and simple for your service. That's probably the key bit of advice we’d give to anyone opening a new coffee shop or changing things up.
What would work for the majority of coffee shops? What does a near perfect coffee menu look like? Well first of all let's break it down into simple terms.
Espresso is the base for all the drinks you can make from your espresso machine. We then dilute this down with milk or water to change the flavour for the customer/your preference. Traditionally, if you liked a ‘stronger’ coffee you would likely drink a flat white/small americano and if you prefered the coffee flavour to be more subtle you would drink a latte/larger americano. It's that simple. No need for extra shots/single shots.
Espresso ‘double’ (which makes a balanced espresso) as standard. If a customer wants it weaker or to contain less caffeine they will tell you - this allows you to keep your menu simpler to read. Keeping it a ‘double’ as standard is going to help speed of service, trust us. So from now on let’s just call it ‘Espresso’.
If someone wants to have a weaker coffee, then just catch the espresso from one side of the spout. Perhaps drink the other for yourself! Or collect them and batch them together for espresso martinis. Or let it drip away. Don’t drop standards by trying to use less coffee or stopping the shot short. Your margins have been worked out on the ‘double shot’ so you’re all good!
Which cup sizes for my coffee shop?
You can run a successful coffee menu easily with 3 cup sizes. It keeps your menu streamlined, you don’t need a huge amount of cups on top of the machine and it's easy to tell drinks apart if you’re waiting tables. Don’t worry about a wide range of cups, you will benefit from focusing on a smaller, core range - this also means you will have more in the shop ready for any breakages etc.
We work with and supply Loveramics. Their Egg range is a perfect line up. However we’ve detailed cup sizes below in ml’s that we would work roughly towards if we were buying from another supplier. We’ve added what drinks we would serve in each cup:
- 80ml - For Espresso & Macchiato
- 200-230ml cup - Flat white, Small Americano, Cappuccino
- 300-330ml cup - Latte, Large Americano, Mocha, Hot Chocolate, Tea (some parts of the UK still do like a cappuccino this large so debate if that's right for your audience)
If you want to, you can also look at 130ml glass tumblers for piccolos (espresso and latte style milk) But honestly… you won’t sell many so we’d just offer them if someone asks. Special treatment and all that...
Keep your takeaway cups as similar sizes so your customers still get the same drink experience if they sit in or rush out the door.
What milk style for all drinks?
Easy! latte style (roughly 0.5cm of foam) for all for all drinks other than a cappuccino which is roughly 1cm. This keeps milk steaming quick through service as you’ll be steaming the same milk for your menu with the odd sneaky cappuccino thrown in. Combine this with every drink having the same shot of espresso as standard and your service is now faster and slicker to watch.
Extras to list on a menu
- Hot chocolate. Make sure to source a good quality hot chocolate. Everyone can taste it when it's basic, they are thin and overly sweet. And it's so easy to buy one that's vegan as standard. Lots have milk powder added as standard which reduces your offering. Think of the dairy intolerant and vegans who love chocolate too!
- Chai - Great for the caffeine avoiders or add espresso to it for a ‘Dirty Chai’.
- Syrups - Give the people what they want. Unless you’re going to a pure coffee experience style business.
- Decaf - Don’t forget this. And there is no point in charging extra.
- Alt milks - Oat is a must then fight between Soya and Almond. But buy the barista/professional ones. Nobody likes a lumpy latte.
- Babyccino is a nice little win. If the group just ordered a load of drinks and they have a young child ask if they would like one just chuck it in for free. Foamy milk with a sprinkle of chocolate for free will give you a happy customer who will probably return again and bring more friends. And what else would you do with that over foam at the bottom of the milk pitcher?
Make sure it matches your ethos of the coffee you source and work with each day. Tea partners are just as valuable as the coffee roastery you partner with, we work with Born Wild. Tea menus are easy. Are you a coffee shop or a tea shop? If you’re a tea shop, you probably have a bigger tea menu than coffee menu…
What seasonal drinks should I add to my coffee menu?
When designing your menu, we’d advise displaying your seasonal drinks in a separate section to your main menu - this will make it easier to update them seasonally.
We could (and often do) spend all day experimenting with lots of different drink combinations but we’d bet our roaster (the most important thing in our lives!) that iced coffee is your biggest summer drink.
Iced lattes/flat whites/americanos are always top dogs. Keep to the similar sizes noted above to keep the strength of the drink in line. When you cool coffee down it becomes more bitter, so honestly there is no shame to add a dash of vanilla/sugar syrup to help balance the drink. Add it into the hot espresso to help it dissolve fully - this way it will disperse throughout the entire drink (instead of ending up as a sweet blob at the bottom).
Pour the espresso over the top of the ice and milk for extra instagram friendly shots. Serve them in nice glass tumblers in house and for takeaways use those lovely instagram friendly clear takeaway cups (eco friendly please!) with a slick straw.
Other drinks to consider for spring/summer are cold brew, espresso tonic (it works trust), espresso lemonade (also works) vietnamese coffee, iced hot chocolate and iced mocha.
Cold brew in the winter isn’t going to be the reason you’re driving customers through the doors, but in the summer it's a crowd pleaser.
Autumn/winter - Spices and warming flavours are the winner here (I know I know) pumpkin spiced lattes, cinnamon lattes and chai lattes are all very popular. Whether adding syrups to coffee is or isn’t your thing, it may work for your customers. Flavoured hot chocolates (it's a guilty pleasure), turmeric lattes (golden milk) and beetroot lattes are also solid additions for caffeine free alternatives.
Iced Teas - Easy to make. Make your iced tea in a massive kilner jar with a tap - this gives you a great artisan look and customer’s love to see how it’s homemade.
It’s important to understand that with a massive drinks menu and lots of choice, you’ll inevitably get those tickets that slow service down. That’s just a fact. Baristas that can smash out 5 drinks consisting of 1x green super smoothie 1x iced mocha 1x decaf soya cappuccino and 2x flat whites in under 5 minutes during a rush are rare. Take care of them.
So how would our menu look?Always on offer:
- Americano (200ml and 300ml)
- Flat White (200ml)
- Cappuccino (200ml)
- Latte (300ml)
- Hot Choc (300ml)
- Mocha (300ml)
- Chai Latte (300ml) Make it dirty for £…
- Tea range
Filter coffee and guest coffees. If these make no sense to you, chat to us about it. It might be something to add further down the line with more coffee experience. Do the simple things well before venturing further into unknown territories.
Summer: Iced everything, cold brew, espresso & tonic.
Autumn/Winter: Something with syrup in it and some decent hot chocolates white/dark. Plush it up with cream/marshmallows.
Bang all of that on a pretty menu with a decent sized font so queuing customers can make a decision before panicking at the till. (Which does damage the customer journey and leaves you standing there). Ease the customer into your offer if they’re undecided. Ask how they drink coffee when in other places or how strong/mild they like their coffee.
Keep it simple for the customer and for service.
Blog cover photo by Native Coffee Co.