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Percolating Profits: Elevating Your Restaurant's Coffee Service

Whether you’re thinking about hiring a full-time barista or just getting into the grind, upgrading your coffee service can add a jolt to your restaurant’s bottom line.

From beans to brews, a great Cup o’ Joe isn’t just for cafes and diners anymore. Bars to bistros, fine dining to fast food, customers are demanding the best when it comes to getting their daily caffeine fix. Upping the level of your restaurant’s coffee service is a great way to help increase restaurant revenue by inspiring longer customer stays and encouraging add-on purchases, including pastries or dessert. 

Deciding to elevate your coffee service takes more know-how than you might think, and choosing which coffee and espresso beverages to offer can be overwhelming. 

To help you get started, we’ve put together some tips to help heat up your coffee service.  

Brewing Styles Compared

Not all coffee is brewed the same way. Different brewing styles cause changes in both flavor and strength. Here are a few brewing styles to try:

  • Drip Brew This common brewing style uses ground coffee added to a brew basket and placed in an automatic coffee machine. Gravity allows water to pass through the grounds, resulting in a traditional pot of coffee. A medium grind is generally used for this style brew and the potency can be adjusted depending on the coffee to water ratio. 

  • Pour Over This brewing style, achieved by pouring boiling water slowly through coffee grounds in a filter basket, produces a single cup of a potent brew.  

  • Cold Brew Coarsely ground coffee is placed in room temperature water and allowed to steep for an extended period of time. This results in a less bitter, highly caffeinated brew. 

  • Espresso Using an espresso machine that passes pressurized hot water through a filter containing dark roasted finely ground coffee beans. The force of the water produces a highly concentrated coffee shot. This is the method most commonly used for the base of most specialty coffee drinks.


Coffee Basics

Types of Coffee Beans

In the United States, there are basically two types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta.  


Typically used for black coffee, Arabica is the most popular type of coffee in America. Lower in caffeine content, Arabica beans have a sweeter, more complex flavor.


While Arabica is the most popular, Robusta is a stronger, and less expensive bean. Commonly used in espresso drinks, this bean’s high caffeine content is widely used for its cost-effectiveness. 

Espresso Basics

All espresso is coffee but not all coffee is espresso. Espresso is defined by the process of applying pressure to force hot water through a compact puck of finely ground coffee to brew a strong shot of rich coffee. 

The tradition of espresso originates in Italy. There are also other strong, dark coffee drinks similar to espresso brewed in Cuba, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, such as Turkish coffee and Cafe Con Leche, but the Italian variety is the most common in American café culture.

Espresso is mixed with milk, water, and flavors in different combinations and volumes to make different kinds of espresso drinks, which can be served hot or iced. Espresso machines are often a coffee shop’s greatest asset, and the quality of the machine determines the quality of espresso shots and the barista’s ability to steam milk properly. Espresso coffee is a lucrative addition to any restaurant’s repertoire, so the initial investment into a professional machine, though costly, can reap long-lasting rewards.

Types of Espresso Drinks

Espresso Shots

A single shot of espresso is 1.5 - 2 oz of concentrated coffee that is brewed under pressure which increases the rate of extraction.  

The process of brewing under pressure allows the surfactants natural in coffee to produce a tight foam called crema that lends to the unique texture of espresso. Espresso can be mixed with milk in various volumes to create other popular espresso drinks.  

Café Americano

Espresso is mixed with 8oz of hot water to create a Café Americano. This drink, which was originally created for Americans when they visited Italy to mimic drip coffee, but the popular beverage has become a standard in most American coffee shops today.

Espresso Con Panna

Espresso con Panna is espresso that is either topped with or poured over sweetened whipped cream. 


A traditional macchiato is a double shot (4-5 oz.)  espresso drink that is   topped with a couple of ounces of steamed milk foam. 

Macchiato Latte

A macchiato latte is a latte that is built upside down. The espresso is poured over steamed milk or milk and ice.


A cortado is a 5oz latte, containing two or three ounces of steamed milk (or shaken for an iced cortado). Similar to a cappuccino, a Cortado has a larger ratio of foam to milk, about ¾ milk and ¼ milk foam. 

Flat White

The flat white is a creation of Australia’s coffee culture and describes a small latte topped with cocoa powder.  


A cappuccino is traditionally a 6oz beverage made with a shot of espresso and 4oz of milk and milk foam in about a ½ and ½ ratio. Cappuccinos are light, classic, and easy to sip. Dry cappuccinos have more milk foam than milk, and wet cappuccinos are the opposite, with more milk than foam. Some shops make iced cappuccinos by foaming milk and espresso in a shaker.


One of the most iconic espresso beverages in American cafes, latte art has become a calling card of American coffee culture.  Baristas take great pride in their presentation latte designs, and customers are often willing to shell out higher prices for the opulent feeling this drink evokes. 

A hot latte is usually made with 3-4oz of espresso and 8-9oz of steamed milk or a dairy alternative. Espresso is mixed with ice and cold milk to make an iced latte.  

Mocha Latte

Mochas, one of the most classic flavored lattes,  are made by adding chocolate to a hot or iced latte.  A really decadent mocha with dark chocolate sauce, cocoa powder, and shaved chocolate is the ultimate luxury coffee.


An affogato is a double shot of espresso over gelato or ice cream.  

Cafe con leche 

Cafe con leche translates to “coffee with milk” and it’s a breakfast drink that originated in Spain and then was adopted by the Hispanic community. This drink is made differently depending on where it is served. For Cubans, it’s made with strong Cuban espresso, very hot whole milk, and sugar. 

In Cuban restaurants in South Florida, you are usually served the Cuban coffee and milk separately so you can prepare it to your liking. If you want it lighter, you add more milk and less espresso. If you’d like the drink darker, you add less milk and more espresso. 

Shaken Espresso

Shaken espresso is an emerging espresso coffee trend which entails shaking espresso for iced americanos, lattes, and cappuccinos for years. Shaken espresso gives baristas a method to innovate creative flavor combinations and drink recipes for lighter coffee drinks. 


Trends in Healthy Coffee

Thanks to an increasingly health-conscious population, healthy coffee options are trending.

Matcha: Matcha is specially produced green tea leaves ground to a fine powder. You can make matcha lattes, frappuccinos, and lemonades.

Golden Milk Latte: Touted for its health benefits, a golden milk latte, or turmeric milk latte, is milk mixed with turmeric and spices such as cinnamon and ginger.  

Brewed Cacao: Roasting, grinding, and brewing cacao beans like you would coffee unlocks their rich nutrients and delivers a nourishing coffee alternative that tastes like a warm cup of dark chocolate.

Healthy Coffee Additives

Mushroom Coffee: Mushroom coffee is conventional black coffee mixed with medicinal mushroom powder. Mushroom coffee is valued as an antioxidant that aids digestion.

Turmeric Coffee: Turmeric coffee is perfect for those who want the health benefits of turmeric without giving up their coffee because turmeric coffee is brewed coffee with turmeric mixed into it.

Collagen Creamer: Known for their positive effects on skin, gut, and joint health, collagen creamers are a great way for health enthusiasts to incorporate a collagen supplement into their morning coffee routine. Additionally, collagen is an excellent source of protein, and busy people will turn to collagen creamer as a fast way to nourish themselves in the morning.

Dairy and Alternative Milks

Cow’s milk is traditionally used to make cappuccinos, lattes, and other espresso drinks, while half and half or cream is often mixed with coffee. Many milk alternatives are becoming en vogue for their taste and dietary concerns. 

 Oat milk, becoming a favorite among baristas for its alternative appeal, has  surfactants that act very similar to dairy milk when steamed.

Almond milk is thinner than dairy, oat, or soy, but it has a fairly neutral flavor, and a skilled hand can produce the shiny, smooth microfoam that is characteristic of specialty coffee.

Soy milk, still a favorite sustainable alternative to dairy milk, can be flavored with vanilla, sweetened, or unsweetened.  

Other non-dairy alternatives like macadamia milk, coconut milk or coconut cream are also trending in specialty coffee shops.

Coffee Flavors

The most common way to flavor coffee is using flavored simple syrup. It’s hard to find a coffee shop or even a gas station coffee station that doesn’t have  vanilla, chocolate  and hazelnut, with seasonal flavors like pumpkin and peppermint popular during the holiday season.

Baristas are getting increasingly creative and innovative  using unexpected flavors using herbs and flowers such as lavender, rose, orange, and chili powder  to concoct unusual  specialty drinks.


Train Your Servers on Upsell Coffee Service

A skilled server will be able to increase your restaurant’s sales with simple conversation. Effective upselling your coffee service leaves the customer feeling in control of their decision and doesn’t make them feel pressured to order.  

When everyone in a party is finished with their meal the server may simply suggest that they try an after-dinner coffee or espresso drink . Naming off a few options may tempt your customers to try one. It’s a great idea to hold regular coffee tastings with your servers so they can sample the menu items. This will not only enable them to better explain the drink offerings, but their honest enthusiasm will come through and your staff will appreciate the complimentary cup of coffee at the end of a long shift. 

Delivering Joe

Setting up delivery for your coffee service  is another  revenue stream for your business. but can come at a hefty price. Most small business owners have to choose between shelling out a lot of money upfront on a gamble, or missing out on the fastest growing market of the food industry: delivery.

By Eileen Strauss


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