Coffee shops – how to keep your customers cool this summer

The economic pressures on cafes and coffee shops are well known; everyone is looking to refine or build their product offering to maximise footfall, and ultimately revenue – it can be hot, tiring work, and with the summer weather now well and truly upon us, why are so many operators still shying away from the iced coffee revolution?

It is remarkably easy for a coffee shop to start selling iced coffee: pour a fresh double espresso shot, or preferably two, over a glass full of ice and top up with either cold milk or cold water. Cold milk is by far the more popular, or whatever milk alternative most floats the customer’s boat.

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Large chains tend also to add a thickening agent, sweetener or flavoured syrup, and sometimes cream, to add value (and calories!), in an effort to make it a more enticing product. You can be creative, or you need not be – let your customers be the judge – but if you don’t want to miss out on potential revenue, you do need to get on board the cold coffee boat.

Ideally, you want to offer your customers a cold version of their favourite drink, and iced coffee is the simplest way forward. There is, however, another even trendier way. Cold brew is an entirely different proposition to iced coffee. In a traditional cup of coffee, hot water is used to brew coffee in a very short period of time – it can then be turned into iced coffee on the spot – while cold brewed coffee uses cold water, and therefore takes a whole lot longer to brew.

A coffee that takes 12 to 24 hours to brew presents obvious challenges for the average coffee shop, since it means making up and storing batches in advance. The risk of making too much or too little, having to find space in the fridge to store it and so on, tends to be enough to keep cold brew off most menus – but coffee lovers want it, so it would be foolish to dismiss it out of hand.

If you can find a way to overcome the challenges, cold brew is worth considering. It will set you apart from the crowd, and you might even find you start to attract customers who used to walk past. Using cold water to make coffee prevents the degrading of its soluble components, avoiding the bitterness and acidity that puts some people off coffee altogether. These people are going to love your new cold brewed coffee, and could form a valuable new customer base.

Whether you go with iced coffee or cold brew, one thing is certain: in hot weather, you need to keep your customers cool, and coming through the door. If you aren’t yet offering them an ice-cold way to get their caffeine hit, now is the time to start.

Andrew Knight is the founder and CEO of luxury coffee roasters, Andronicas (www.andronicas.com)

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