Once you have found and sourced the perfect coffee to serve your customers, you may be wondering what would be the best type of food you can offer to upsell your customers? It can be pretty overwhelming to decide what to actually commit to.
Let us help you take a look at the most popular items that coffee shops are serving, then decide on the items that you can best source locally for quality & price. With that, build up a very simple, easy-to-understand menu that doesn’t overwhelm your clients with choice but still satisfies what they are craving. Simplicity is key when starting to introduce food to your menu.
What are the best coffee shop food menu ideas? The following are the top coffee shop food menu ideas;
- Breakfast Sandwiches
- Granola and yogurt
- Fresh sandwiches
- Quick ‘N Easy Grab & Go Options
Whatever you decide to put on your menu, it is very important to make sure that everything is fresh. From fresh baked goods to sandwiches or salads, the customer is paying their valuable money on it so it has to be worth it.
Best coffee shop food menu ideas for small coffee shop
We’ve split up the food menu ideas into 3 categories: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Eating at these times of day attracts a different type of hunger, which it is important to be aware of in order to capitalize on each one.
Breakfast coffee shop food menu ideas
Breakfast is one of the most popular times that people will spend money on food at a coffee shop. Perhaps they won’t allow themselves to spend as much as they would at lunchtime, however, most people are ready to be upsold from their coffee purchase simply because they are hungry.
People are on the move, in a rush and they may not have time to eat at home, or simply just wake up too late. By offering a variety of items in the morning that range from cheap and easy to more costly but uniquely delicious, you can make it easy for their stomach to decide their purchasing habit.
Croissants are one of the staple coffee shop breakfast options people go for. Adding this or similar items can really drive up profit as the markup can be excellent. Additionally, your prep time is reduced to nothing as you just serve them fresh out of the baker’s box. Making sure you have food items like these mixed in with your more elaborate items helps upkeep low and helps maintain daily profits.
Muffins are one of the most go-to items in coffee shops during that morning rush. They are filling and come in all sorts of recipes that a customer can gravitate towards. If you are going to offer this, make sure you offer a small assortment as everyone is after a different type of morning sustenance.
For example, there is the hearty “Morning Glory” Muffin that packs much nutrition and is as filling as possible for those looking at chasing their hunger away. A Lighter option could be mixed-berry.
There are so many recipes that can make it onto your coffee shop menu, browse through what your bakery has to offer but the most popular muffins are:
- Morning Glory
- Mixed Berry
Once you can offer some of the standard options, if available through your source, throw in something unique that nobody is used to, then change that unique one on a regular basis. Such as Lemon Raspberry or Maple Chai, there is a percentage of people that will keep coming back to see what new things they can try, especially if the staff promote them.
This is the item that you can sell for the most (if you have unique ingredients), or alternately make super cheap to steal customers from other coffee shops. By using one or two key ingredients, you can really grab their attention and let the customer treat themselves that day.
For example, using special maple smoked bacon or Mennonite smoked sausage may get people intrigued enough to not want to miss out on this unique taste. This can be applied to other ingredients such as specific cheeses or greens. Featuring one or two ingredients like this among other standard ingredients will really pop out of the menu. Doing the same strategy for a veggie/vegan option makes you very considerate and goes a long way.
Here are some great unique ingredient ideas to add to your Breakfast Sandwiches:
- Maple Smoked Bacon
- Organic Italian Sausage
- Aged Cheddar
- Jalopeno Havarti
Other Breakfast Food Menu Ideas For Your Coffee Shop:
Here are some extra food menu ideas that you can offer for that morning breakfast time;
- Waffles (experiment with different kinds, i.e Chocolate or Peanut Butter)
- Breakfast Wraps (use same concepts of ingredients as the Breakfast Sandwich)
- Bagels (popular: poppyseed, everything, cinnamon, etc.)
- Yogurt, Granola & Fruit Cups
- Cinnamon Buns
Lunch Coffee Shop Food Menu Ideas
Although people are generally willing to spend more on their lunch purchases than they are on breakfast, at lunchtime you have more competition. People will probably most likely go to dedicated restaurants rather than a coffee shop. However, that being said, for those that are truly on the go and don’t have time to wait in a restaurant, they will visit a coffee shop for something quick. Especially if they have a really short lunch break. If you offer something really great and worth spending money on, you may even convert them into preferring your establishment rather than restaurant fare.
A good sandwich is one of the best coffee shop lunch menu options anyone can really rely on. Make sure you can provide the standard options that people can expect and then explore and experiment with ingredients from there. People spending on a more costly sandwich expect something unique, they deserve it. If not then keep your prices low.
Typical Types of Fresh Sandwiches:
- Meat and Cheese: Smoked Deli Meat & Brie, Ham & Swiss or Prosciutto & Fresh Mozzarella
- Grilled Chicken and Lettuce
- Tasty vegetarian options like Roasted Vegetables or ample Mixed Greens
Popular Types of Fresh Bread to use for your Fresh Sandwiches:
- Croissants (especially if you are already buying them for your breakfast menu)
A lot of food options typically offered in a coffee shop can be quite heavy. Offering up a small range of salad options can bring lots of people to your establishment for lunch. People who either aren’t hungry enough for a meal or just trying to keep it light that day will eye your options of green.
A great variety of popular salad options are:
- Greek Salad
- Spring / Mixed Greens
- Roasted Chicken on romain lettuce
- Chickpea Salad
- Pasta Salad
Quick, Cheap, Grab ‘N Go Options
Having some unique delicious items can be all well and good but if your store doesn’t have the capacity to make them or you want to offer something more inexpensive, these items are great for spontaneous hunger purchases. The reality is that not everyone has a lot of money to spend at lunch. By offering basic and cheap options, you can encourage customers to grab something small but still satisfy their hunger along with their caffeine.
Here are some simpler food menu items you could prepackage ahead of service:
- Bagel & Cream Cheese
- Egg Salad or Tuna Sandwich
- Avocado & Sprouts Sandwich
- Energy Bars
Dinner coffee shop food menu ideas
Big dinner meals aren’t something people expect or go to a coffee shop. So if you are open into the evening, people may come looking for a treat to go with their coffee after their big meal. That’s why these food menu ideas lean into the sweet side that you can use in your evening menu.
Cheesecake is one of the most definitive luxuriously tasting after-dinner treats. From the classic New York Style Cheesecake to the many flavors, available. This rich, light, and creamy dessert is a perfect match with a late-night coffee. Often shared by two people, so don’t forget to offer a second fork if it’s a party of two.
Most popular types of cheesecakes you can offer are:
- New York Style Cheesecake (with fruit topping)
- Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake
- Brownie Cheesecake
- Turtle Cheesecake
- Blueberry Cheesecake
Originally from France (as with most popular pastries), this meringue-based treat is a real winner for those that want to truly savor the finer things. Made with precision, these wonderful confections pair very well with coffee and come in a wide assortment of flavors. Having macaroons adds a wow factor to your display as the various beautiful colors can stand out in your dessert display case.
Sometimes people are still somewhat hungry after their dinner, that’s where the brownie comes in. A classic brownie with walnuts sprinkled on top really catches the eye of that customer who is craving something more filling. Not too sweet but perfectly satisfying, this dessert leaves you quite satisfied accompanied with a favorite coffee.
Additionally, it is important to note, Brownies also sell excellently throughout the day.
How to decide on a solid coffee shop food menu
Understand customer demand
The taste of food varies from place to place. So, considering the audience and demand can help in forming the right menu that sells. By choosing the menu items according to your target customer rather your personal choice. Some research is required.
Looking at what the competition is selling and trying to find a way to sell something else in that same category; what is missing may help get the customer’s attention when they see it in your shop. For example, if everyone is selling croissants, maybe try introducing biscuits. If everyone is selling special cookies, try offering a selection of biscotti. Or try selling the same thing but noticeably cheaper.
Make yourself unique in some way within the same market. Your food menu journey also includes introducing something new and unique and sees if people latch onto it. For example, if nobody in the area sells samosas, you could try that. Don’t be afraid to try new and exciting things for a small portion of your menu. Adjust those items constantly until you find a winner.
Don’t overcomplicate your menu
In a small coffee shop’s food and drink menu, consider the staff and space of the establishment. If it is a single barista operation, only pre-packaged food should be sold as your only barista should be focused on producing good coffee. Alternatively, you’ll have to account for adequate prep time to produce, sort and organize all the pre-packaged items. So considering this will help maintain the quality of products and the engagements of customers.
Keep in mind that you know your establishment best, don’t try and add items that are too complicated to make if you are a great mini establishment. Offer within your capabilities such as easy to source or easy to make. Letting your customers wait long or overworking your staff is a recipe for a disaster. Keeping the service flowing is key to customers returning.
Estimate costs and profit
Usually, the holder gets 50% to 70% margins in the coffee shop food menu depending on the products and place. It becomes difficult for a new coffee shop to set high pricing for the food menu. Also, the pressure of competitors doesn’t allow them to go high.
Keep the food menu easy to read
A congested food menu irritates the customer to find what they need, they may end up getting nothing due to indecision. While presenting a decent basic and clear coffee shop menu to your customers, you make it easy for them to order what they want. The best food menu card should have a brand identity, so keep the colors and logos similar to your brand. What a cafe serves doesn’t matter until the customers feel it is hard to find what they are looking for.
Launch and adjust
As you launch your menu in your coffee shop, you will know best your type of customer. Cater to their needs, pay attention to their body language when you offer them something to eat. Do they seem interested? Do they get turned off? Try to pick up on the clues of what they do and say. Asking for feedback from your regulars can also be very valuable.
Adjustments to your menu are to be expected, not all items will sell as expected and some of the items you may not expect will. Some items may or may not end up being profitable even if they are selling. Keep a good record of what is being sold and take a look at the numbers at the end of each month. Compare the profit margins of the different food menu items to see which are your high-performing products and lower-performing items to your bottom line. Changing a supplier or an ingredient could make a difference.
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