How many coffee shops can sell only coffee and remain profitable? A bit. A diverse menu is the key to increasing revenue, increasing attendance, and customer satisfaction.
But what should visitors have to offer? How do you choose products that will help you stand out – as well as maintain high quality and strengthen your brand? Do you need to work with other companies, or do you better do everything yourself?
To find out the answers to these questions, we spoke with Erica Lowry and Brian Reynolds. Erica is the director of Coffee Fest, a leading American exhibition for entrepreneurs with a focus on education. The next Coffee Fest – and the latest in 2018 – will be held in Los Angeles from August 19 to August 21. Brian is the founder of Anthem Coffee and the speaker of a one-day intensive CoffeePreneur seminar on how to make the coffee business that will take place at Coffee Fest profitable.
Here’s what we learned from Erica and Brian.
Industry experts attend a Coffee Fest Workshop at Coffee Fest in Denver 2018. Photo by Daniel Mendoza
Why do you need to make a difference?
Brian says, “Either you invent something new or your business is dying.” Expanding the range allows you to attract new visitors, offer something extra to existing ones and increase revenue.
After all, why sell only coffee when you can sell coffee and desserts? Or even coffee and works of art, handmade jewelry or underground stand-up?
Anything will happen that will allow you to increase your revenue for each transaction. Coffee shops may have a reasonable profit, but only some are successful enough to afford to sell only coffee – even in the world of speshelti.
Extra income from the sale of food, other beverages, events and other products can support an institution’s profitability by giving more money to grow a business, pay employees, and ultimately earn a living.
So let’s see how to do this.
Workshop participants review their entries. By learning about new trends, techniques and technologies now, you will be able to grow in the future. Photo by Daniel Mendoza
How to diversify the range?
It is typical for coffee shops to expand the menu at the expense of food and other beverages. Desserts, sandwiches, cookies … snacks that are so good for coffee.
But don’t limit yourself to standard options. As Brian says, “It suits anything to coffee: sweet dishes, savory dishes, avocado toast.”
You can serve hot meals at lunch or in the evening, or have light snacks. There are enough options for everyone. “At each show, different companies come up with new flavors, going beyond all expected desserts,” emphasizes Eric.
In addition, there are various drinks that, according to Erika, can supplement or replace the coffee closer to the evening. That is why they invite to the exhibition companies that produce kombucha, fresh juices, speshelti tea and others. Coffee shop owners can not only attend workshops, buy new equipment and order deliveries of perfectly roasted coffee, but also work on expanding their “some” menu.
Gundalow juice, one of the products on display at Coffee Fest. Selling alternative drinks is one way to expand the menu of your establishment. Photo: Coffee Fest
Erica recalls the importance of diversity in your coffee menu. It can be achieved through cold brew and alternative milk, which are important options for many clients. The trend for alternative milk is spreading very quickly.
By connecting a little creativity, you can come up with new coffee cocktails, with or without alcohol, and seasonal drinks that will be hard to give up.
If you have the opportunity, do it, because diversity can be a good way to attract more customers. Live music and movie screenings on a Friday night, local craftsmen, or third-party books – there are many ways to increase sales if you know how.
But no matter which option you choose, there are a few points to keep in mind …
Pacific Barista Alternative Milk at the Coffee Fest in Denver. Photo: Coffee Fest
1. Find Your Niche
Carefully choose additional offers. You want to diversify, not dilute your brand. If you are aware of high quality coffee and a great atmosphere, then the innovations should also be of high quality and conducive to a great atmosphere.
In other words, you want to find a way to sell customers the products they expect so that it does not conflict with your identity.
For example, your brand is environmentally sustainable: you can sell homemade, organic desserts made with locally sourced ingredients while avoiding plastic packaging. Or you may want to share with the audience the stories of the coffee business. In this case, traditional dishes from these regions will be an actual complement to the menu.
Brian explains: “If you are an owner of an establishment and want to start a kitchen, you have to create your own authentic menu that is an expression of your own tastes and preferences.”
Attendees gather at the Campfire Cafe, a meeting to discuss coffee trends. Photo: Coffee Fest
2. Keep up to date
Erica stresses that all coffee shop owners need to understand two things: what the consumer wants and how trends change. The first will allow you to be profitable today. The second will allow you to be profitable in the future.
It is important to be aware of the growing interest in new products, changing technologies and more. If you have the opportunity, talk to your industry representatives, attend presentations and seminars. The acquired knowledge can be useful.
Training will also allow you to take full advantage of new trends, not just stay level but stand out among other institutions, enhancing your competitiveness.
Workshop on Coffee Business Launching at Coffee Fest in Denver 2018. Photo by Daniel Mendoza
Erica says: “We focus on training throughout the exhibit, first and foremost, in the morning, conducting various workshops and seminars for business owners so that they can develop their skills and knowledge.”
Ticket holders can attend more than 60 educational events for free. The one-day CoffeePreneur intensive, led by Brian, covers everything from hiring and staff training to profitability. The Innovative Beverage Lab tells you in-depth about coffee and tea, how to make homemade lemonade and sodas, frappes, and more. Kappings, nitro cold brews, customer service, food, coffee production … all of these will be addressed at Coffee Fest in Los Angeles (August 19-21, 2018).
Thus, homeowners are finding “new ways to stay relevant”.
One of the areas of special emphasis is the cold bur. Fryers and coffee shop owners have noticed a growing demand for this drink, but not everyone knows how to make it or what equipment they need. And in the near future, they may suffer losses, especially in the hot summer months.
Today, it is not enough to manage a successful institution. You need to look ahead and plan ahead to stay successful.
Klean Kanteen wins Best New Product nomination: Coffee Fest visitors in Denver have shown increased interest in eco-friendly products. Photo: Coffee Fest
3. Work with colleagues in the shop
You’re a coffee expert. You may also be a tea brewing expert, or a great baker or a great manager. But probably not an expert on everything.
Sometimes, if you want to change something, you may want to reach out to other people who can share their experiences in new areas for you, loyal customers, reach more audiences, and valuable resources. Collaborating with these people will help you create new unique offers.
Brian emphasizes the value of such collaboration: “we must offer visitors something unique that will remain in their memories.”
You can act within your community, such as organizing a pop-up coffee shop at a local music festival, or having morning yoga classes at your establishment. But do not forget about your regular visitors during such collaborations, so that they will not be repelled by the innovations.
After all, yoga lovers can come over for coffee and breakfast after 7am on Saturday, and book club members can order a patch while discussing the latest novel … but not all hobbies are conducive to sales. Plan your event carefully. And choose a good day for him, when you will be sure that you do not want regular customers. You have to calculate how justified are sales related to new events and whether they should continue.
But it’s not just about the event: you can also collaborate with other members of your industry. Want to add craft beer to your menu? Cooperate with a brewery. Fresh pastries? Find a baker. Lemonade and carbonated drinks? There is a vendor somewhere that looks similar to you.
Find people you want, through friends, or at events like Coffee Fest. Make sure they match your vision. And make sure that cooperation is beneficial to both.
Meet industry representatives at Coffee Fest. Photo: Coffee Fest
Managing a coffee shop is a labor born of love. You do the work you like, but you also need to make a lot of effort. To be profitable, it takes hard work, market knowledge and the ability to offer something unique to consumers.
Diversification? This is a logical step.
You increase profits for each transaction. Your visitors will have another reason to come to your establishment and make a purchase. And your business will remain competitive, no matter which way customers’ preferences change.
Author: Angie Molina.
Note: This article was sponsored by Coffee Fest .
Translation: Anna Polstiankina.