Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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going to want to expand my palate and try them all." Longtime coffee-beverage developer and national sales consultant for Barista 22 Anna Gutierrez notes that besides the human interest in a drink based on local ingredients and seasonal fl avors, a major ben- efi t to adding a special drink to your menu is the opportunity to charge a premium, even as your own costs aren't increasing much at all. "One thing to keep in mind is that, even though there are some investments of time and marketing resources, you actually don't want to use any more ingredients in your seasonal drinks (with the exception of things like egg nog or if you choose to have an expensive spice or oil)," she says. "This will keep your costs in line with a standard latte, blended drink, or Italian soda while keeping profi ts high. That being said, the perceived value of these beverages is higher: Customers will easily pay 10 to 15 percent more for a seasonal beverage." There's also the get-it-now-before-it's-gone factor: "By offering something that is seasonal, unique, or creative for a limited time, it becomes craveable and builds excitement," says Darren Loscalzo, VP of innovation for Monin. "I believe if you can develop a seasonal/LTO [limited-time-only] menu strategy and hold to the dates given, custom- ers will learn that pattern and return for more." Further, rotating menus give shop owners the opportunity to try out a new drink to see how it goes over with customers if they're not sure whether its worthy of the regular menu. In the same vein, sometimes a drink created to be a seasonal special is so popular with customers that a café owner may choose to add it for good. That's what happened with the Matcha Lavender Latte that Portland's Good Coffee added as a spring drink in its fi rst year. "Customers love it so much that we now offer it 12 months of the year," says Good Coffee co-owner Sam Purvis of the drink made with organic culinary matcha, steamed milk, and a reduction made from lavender grown in the Pacifi c Northwest. If you're wondering why you should go to the trouble of creating a special drink when your customers already have the option of request- ing a shot of mint in their mocha, or honey in their cortado, consider that your customers trust you to make fl avor decisions on their behalf. "Our research tells us customers prefer to be offered a complete drink (e.g., a raspberry white hot chocolate), rather than 'add a shot of syrup' at the bottom of your menu," says Lauren Stuckes, marketing and communications manager for Beyond the Bean, of the company's Usage and Attitude Qualitative Research 2017. "Unlike industry professionals, customers won't necessarily know what combination of fl avors work well together, or have the time to think about it, so make sure you offer them the full package." Seasonal Drink Creation 101 The best way to get your creative juices fl owing and start plotting a seasonally inspired coffee drink is to think about the ingredients for which your particular region is known. If you're in Maine and it's summer, consider blueberries. Fall in Florida? How about some citrus? Don't be afraid to try some seemingly strange ingredients for beverages: Alden Kelley, who works on menu board and beverage in- novation for 1883, Hollander Chocolate Co., and Pacifi c Barista Series, urges operators to think outside the box with fl avors like corn and fi g. It was only a few years ago that the idea of salt on a sweet drink was considered exotic, after all. If you fi nd yourself drawing a blank on a local ingredient that will be both easy and inexpensive to incorporate into your drinks, Torani's Angela Ramirez, who manages consumer and customer market in- sight, advises that there's nothing wrong with sticking to the classics. "What's rather amazing is how many of the seasonal fl avors are rooted in nostalgia and traditions," says Angela. "People don't al- ways want new things every year, as much as we may want them to: Look at the success of pumpkin spice. It works, because it's a crave- able taste, only available a certain time of year, and then poof. It's gone. In the fall and winter, most of the best-sellers are drinks that center around fl avors that may have been part of holiday desserts, perhaps rooted in a memory of baking with a relative, or even part of a different holiday tradition, like having hot chocolate after sledding. What we do see is more excitement for little twists on these familiars to keep old favorites fresh." Don't be intimidated by the idea of each drink slowing your line with complicated production, either. Because you are offering a drink that has been pre-designed, creating drinks by the batch will save your staff time. That doesn't mean you should pour a seasonal sig- nature drink from a jug and call it a day, however. Each drink should include some sort of special fl air and effort on behalf of the barista so the customer still feels special—and is happy to pay a premium for the drink. "Ordering a pre-batched drink can sometimes feel like getting a spoonful of mashed potatoes at a cafeteria. When pre-batching I recommend combining key ingredients but leaving certain elements, "I can think of six cafés near where I live that I follow on Instagram, and if one of them posted a photo of a new drink that sounded tasty, I would be there the next day." —Levi Andersen 87 www.baristamagazine.com

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