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.