Not Coffee: What Your Coffeeshop Should Offer Besides Coffee

Whether your business is a coffee-shop, a roastery, or a roastery/coffee-shop combo with a bar on Friday nights, you know the basic things you need to sell. As a roaster, you are selling your whole beans, roasted to perfection, in various weights. If you’re a coffee shop, you’re selling a drip coffee, and maybe an iced coffee, espresso-based drinks, and possibly a decaf. If you’re a bar, liquor is usually expected from what I hear.

These are the basics. These are the products you based the opening of your business on, these are the main event. In a previous post, I wrote about how to garner more business for your roastery and one of the tips was to add a coffee-shop to it, because this will get people to hang around longer, which means they’ll spend more money. This is the same concept behind adding more sellable items to your business, whatever it is.

The next most basic step is food. Most coffee shops do the pastry thing, typically geared toward breakfast. At the bare minimum, consider partnering with a local bakery and offering some muffins and croissants. If you are showing strong morning numbers, consider some sort of fruit as well; the coffee shop I worked at offered bananas because they were already using them for smoothies. Bananas are something many on-the-go people grab for their breakfast. Parfaits are also expected. You can go unexpected, however, and add a kitchen with various options based on your taste and brand, or you can find some unique offerings that will stand out just as much as your main event product.

Tip: if you’re going the specialty/third-wave coffee route, consider the health-consciousness of most of your customers and try to offer non-carb/non-sugar-loaded options. My coffee shop offered a vegan snack bar with dried fruits and nuts and honey, that boosted energy almost as well as the coffee, was tasty without being heavy, and that was more addictive than the chocolate chip cookies (which is saying something, trust me).

Cold brew is also something you should consider; it is a time-consuming brewing process but it is becoming the preferred iced coffee among many coffee-shop customers. You will also likely want to offer pour-overs, especially if you’re featuring single-origins or rare coffees, especially in a light roast. This allows you to demonstrate a product you may offer (see below) and to spend more time with the customer, giving them a coffee experience and sharing a social connection you might not be able to achieve in the two-five minutes it takes to make a latte. You’ll also want to offer more than the basic whole/2% milk or cream, a lot of people go for skim, but even more people are realizing the health risks of dairy, whether they be allergy or weight related. Adding almond, coconut, or other non-dairy milks will expand your customer base and enhance customer loyalty (because not everyone is offering non-dairy options).

You can take things even further with the aforementioned smoothies, as well as blended frozen drinks (frappes), teas (which are considered a coffee-shop staple by most) and hot chocolate. It may or may not be on brand for you to offer seasonal selections as well; you could jump on that pumpkin spice bandwagon or add apple cider for a few months. You could also go in completely the opposite direction by not offering any type of flavorings (you can’t beat perfectly steamed silky milk in the perfect espresso blend, in my opinion), or by offering unique flavorings (thus tailoring to that third-wave crowd) like lavender. And if you want to take things even further, creating a true “cafe” environment, you can offer sandwiches or other hot-plate options made-to-order as well as offering packaged foods like Starbucks’ protein snack packs and wraps.

Then, of course, there’s retail. Whatever retail you offer is going to be an extension of your brand. This means that it can literally be stuff with your brand on it (t-shirts, mugs, bags) if that’s where you want to go with things; or, it can be things that extend from your business’ vision. As a coffee roaster, offering grinders is a basic retail must, as well as at-home brewing systems. If you’re specialty coffee this should be pour-over options. You can invest in small drip-machines as well, because the majority of at-home coffee-drinkers still prefer the set-it-and-forget-it option for their coffee (and their rotisserie chickens–if you get that references, raise your hand). Thermoses are great, and you should remember filters, at the very least a paper one for each brewing device you offer. There’s no point selling an Aeropress if you don’t have the cut-to-fit filters that go with it. If you can offer reusable filters, also, you will be sacrificing the repeat sale on refills, but you’ll garner a lot of appreciation from your customers, and you can push your new and featured bean batches that are just right for an Aeropress to keep them coming back.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple. Often, that is what consumers are looking for in this increasingly complex, fast-paced, overstimulating world. You have to remember that we are also the children of one-stop-shopping, and while some people will go out of their way to go to the specialist for everything they need, making 12-30 shopping trips, a lot of people are happy to find more than one thing they need in one place. One of the best ways to up your sells is to give people more things to buy. And one of the best ways to get people coming back for your specific beans is to give them a special way to brew it on their own. When people take the time to make something themselves (even with a pourover) they feel more involved with the product and the experience, and they’ll come to you to share it with you and to find out about more experiences they can have. And, in the freelance culture we’re becoming, having an unofficial office surrounded by coffee, free wifi and an outlet is essential; offering more products will get people to stay in your space longer, looking at your products more, and spending more money. When I sit at a coffee shop for 5 hours to write, I inevitably buy at least two coffees and something to snack on.

Remember, add things that fit your brand. You don’t have to sell out to sell more.

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25 Comments

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  1. I get my coffee in the mornings for the most part and I really need a place that has food in case I’ve missed breakfast. I almost always grab a banana. I’m a sucker for a muffin but if you offer something healthier and more lasting like a granola bar or parfaits that’s the best!

    • Coffee shops need to add some healthy and mind boosting snacks for their customer. One visit to the coffee shop in the morning should be able to help us get our minds back to where they are required.

  2. Being a Law student I have tendency of drinking coffee a lot, especially when it is exam term. Usually I get my daily dosage of coffee at a coffeeshop near my faculty and it would be nice if they were to offer some healthy snacks like black chocolate that could help me concentrate better and be more productive throughout the day. That would be great.

  3. How life has changed!? Years ago wood/coal needed to be hauled in, a fire had to be started, water boiled, coffee brewed, then the luxury a steaming cuppa, and only then work could be started… Compared to the latest coffee shop options, it’s simply mind blowing! Luxuries on offer these days make life so much simpler: You can get a coffee on the run, grab a quick bite, simply relax, attend to business or just socialize, and all of this in a coffee shop!!? Killing so many birds with one stone… The win-win situation: Coffee shops add value to their customers’ lives and simultaneously grow their business!

    • Hey Jenny! I totally agree with you, coffee shops add a great value to customers. They are serving us and simultaneously growing their businesses too. In our hectic schedule, a sip of delicious coffee at these coffee shops are worth a lot!

  4. Great Blog for both Coffee lovers and Businessman also!!!!!
    Great information grabbed related to coffee and coffee business for growth at the beginning level in the competitive industry. Really a helpful blog.

  5. As a coffee lover, I prefer some snacks, especially dark chocolate with cold coffee. Coffee has always been my favourite, especially during engineering exams. Those were also the memorable days when I used to make coffee at 2am in the morning while studying!

  6. This is a fantastic article! A coffee shop with a big room and comfortable seats is actually the best,where one can relax with friends and enjoy the good atmosphere, listen to some cool music.i prefer one where various kinds of foods and snacks are offered. As a writer i would enjoy such a place where i can sit and write for some hours taking coffee.

  7. Though I can have espresso without pairing with a snack or anything (just a book, newspaper or mag mostly), it is still great to pair a snack with coffee especially frappes, latté and other variations of coffee. And I love bananas in the morning, too!

  8. Pizza, sliced fruits, and fresh fruit drinks! We all know that coffee shops are not so kids friendly. Serving pizzas and sliced fruits to those small tummies would be a great idea. What do you think? 🙂

  9. I think pastries and bread are pretty much a staple of every coffee shop business. It’s kind of like married to coffee these days. Naturally, it’s a great way to counter acidity from coffee, but as Leanna said, it’s a great way to enjoy morning coffee with your breakfast.

    For ambiance, personally I prefer a more quiet mood. Loud music can put off the relaxing air of roasting coffee,

  10. With how fast-paced life I have, I almost never have time for breakfast. I haven’t tried most of these to be honest, so if you could help me find a tasty, but yet energizing and healthy “coffee breakfast”, I’d reaaaaally love it.

  11. You are totally right, I hope everyone offers non-diary options as I’m allergic to milk 🙁
    I also hope they can provide some healthy snacks with coffee, this would be great (Y)
    Thanks for your helpful article, keep it up 😉

  12. My local shop offers fresh, homemade muffins and pastries that change daily. Seeing pictures of those baked goods on Facebook has often inspired me to make the trip to the shop, even though it’s a bit of a drive. I think shops should offer some variety in food and drinks, but not so much that the customer is overwhelmed. Some non-sugary, low carb options for breakfast are a good thing to offer, in my opinion.

  13. A diverse menu at a coffee shop is a big factor that draws me in. I’m pretty pregnant right now, and having tons of snacks to choose from is really nice, especially since I’m limited to one or two cups of coffee that isn’t decaf now. I really enjoy the third-wave options that were mentioned in the article, (I just recently tried a delightful lavender shake), but I’m just as content with an average pastry or sandwich as long as I have variety. I never know if I’ll be hungry for sweet or savory, so I like having options. Healthy choices are also a plus for me, especially the kind of healthy that tastes just as good as something like chocolate cake.

  14. Several of my local coffee shops actually serve breakfast options (knife and fork-type). Which is a really great idea… evidenced by my being a frequent customer 🙂

    Oh, and coconut milk in coffee is excellent. Just be careful which brand you try as some have an aftertaste from the preservatives.

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