It’s December – do you know what that means? It’s time to really step up your hot beverage program. People take their coffee seriously year-round, however, it seems the topic goes into hyperdrive this time of year. Just when the pumpkin spice craze has died down (or has it?) it’s time for all things peppermint, comforting, and soothing to be at the top of everyone’s minds. If your bar or restaurant is preparing to serve two types of coffee – make it black, or make it decaf, and maybe an herbal tea, this article is for you.
Bring Back the Linger
Fast food is just that – food fast. If you’re a bar or restaurant that doesn’t have a drive-through window, it’s time to embrace your concept and offer more to your patrons than ever before. Decades ago it was commonplace to offer post-dinner coffee or tea as a way to extend the meal and fellowship shared around the table. If you’re like a lot of busy food establishments, hot beverages are rarely given a second thought in your menu.
During the winter months when the daylight is a precious commodity, it can seem like time is too. Think of the dining experience you’re offering your customers who venture out into the cold and darkness to seek refuge at your bar and tables.
Consider offering a warm beverage right off the bat, just as you would share your soda and non-carb options or craft beer selections. For me personally, I’d like a chance to hold a warm mug and appreciate the heat as I peruse the menu, wait for the rest of my party to arrive, or just to simply sit and enjoy the moment. Imagine how nice it would be to hear, “Can I get you a mug of hot peppermint tea, or orange clover with honey and lemon before you select your dinner option?” I’m not going to say no to that after I’ve hurried through a cold and icy parking lot! As the seasons shift so do people’s preferences. Think of how simple it would be to offer hot water to your tables with a slice of lemon; it’s no different than ice water yet the gesture will make a definite impact on patrons.
More Options for People to Love, Including Your Staff
I’ve spent plenty of time in the food service industry, and I’ve been both a server and manager in my days. That means I know what it’s like to announce new initiatives or offerings to your staff … and what it’s like for those big ideas to be met with less than an enthusiastic reproach. If you tell your staff you’re going to start adding handcrafted coffee or tea drinks to the menu, they’re likely going to ask you who is going to be doing the work, and what’s in it for them. What’s in it for them is a more in-depth customer experience, which in turn can pad their pockets a little. There’s nothing wrong with servers and bartenders making that connection, it means service will only increase.
Think of the biggest impact your hot beverage program could make with the least amount of resistance. For example, you’re probably not going to add barista-grade coffee equipment to your kitchen, but you can add syrups and different flavors of beans and creamer. Most restaurants I visit can give me regular or black coffee, with half and half or skim milk if I ask for it. I’d be bowled over if I asked for coffee after a meal and was asked if I want to make it a French vanilla topped with real whipped cream, or if I had a syrup preference. Those are the little extras your patrons will notice and appreciate … and your staff won’t have to work too much harder to deliver the delight.
Beyond Beverage Benefits
It’s true that beverage trends ebb and flow and demand the attention of people who are part of this industry – I have two words for you: kombucha and matcha. Huh? Both of those are health-related beverages that have become oh, so mainstream the past few years. Why? Because consumers are the trendsetters and seekers and the ones who drive what makes it onto menus and into coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. Sure, it might be trendy to offer either kind of those teas, but as a bar or restaurant owner, you have to gauge what will work for you. A recent Think with Google Beverage Trends Report of 2017 stated the emergence of earthy flavors and “plant-based ingredients are bringing new flavor notes to the beverage equation.” Those flavors include chai, ginger, and chamomile among others.
Offering herbal tea in those flavors among your standards sets you apart from the competition as an up-to-date restaurant who appreciates consumer trends. It’s still not a complete stretch or overhaul to add new hot tea flavors to your menu, and it won’t add tedious work to your wait staff’s task list. But it will be met with appreciation from discerning customers who enjoy being loyal to food and beverage venues in their communities.
A good cup of coffee or hot tea is an extension of hospitality. It adds an element of savoring to meals that we sometimes forget is important. When you run into an old coworker or neighbor on the street, you often say, we should grab coffee sometime and catch up! It’s never an invitation for a quick exchange – the mention of coffee itself implies a leisurely time. Your business could be the place where that catching up takes place, and think of what an honor it would be to give the reunion more than a standard cup of black coffee.