Cold brew coffee has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and as such, it’s become a staple product for cafés and other hospitality businesses around the world.
However, when adding a new product to your menu, there are always concerns: how will your customers respond? Will it be as successful as you hope? And how can you keep it profitable?
While the rapid rise of cold brew is evidence enough that this trend can be potentially lucrative for businesses, there are some things to consider to keep costs down and improve profitability for your cold coffee setup. Read on to learn more.
Why serve cold brew in the first place?
Cold brew has become incredibly popular in recent years. It is now a must-have for many coffee shops around the world.
First and foremost, this is because cold brew is categorically a versatile beverage: it can be made as a concentrate, enjoyed black over ice, used as a base for other cold coffee drinks, and customised in a number of other ways. Furthermore, by experimenting with different coffees, baristas can also easily tailor it for customers to appeal to individual taste preferences.
Its versatility aside, cold brew is also particularly popular among younger consumers. These consumers are driving the wider growth of higher quality coffee, and continue to set trends across the industry – making them an important demographic to cater to.
Cold brew can also be used as a component in seasonal or signature drinks, or even as a base for unique coffee cocktails if you’re looking to try something new.
Lauren Pfeiffer is Director of Marketing at BKON Brew and a Marco partner. She sheds light on how cold brew has become a key industry trend over the past decade.
“According to the NCA National Coffee Drink Trends report, weekly cold brew consumption has doubled since 2016,” she says. “The intersection of cold refreshment and craft coffee is the fastest-growing beverage segment within the $85 billion US coffee market.”
Connor Nestor is another Marco partner and works as Head of Innovation at New Ground Coffee. He strongly recommends that coffee shops include cold brew on their menus.
“It’s delicious and quick to serve,” he explains. “It’s a great option to take pressure off the espresso machine for cold coffee drinks.”
This is exemplified by the increasing use of cold brew concentrate as a base for coffee drinks, as it can be used as a substitute for espresso in an iced latte or cappuccino.
Constructing your cold brew setup
Fortunately, cold brew is one of most versatile coffee brewing methods commonly used today. However, it doesn’t prepare itself; the basics for any cold brew setup naturally include a good grinder, a vessel to prepare it in, and practical ways to store it.
There are several proprietary cold brew kits on the market, but much of the appeal of the beverage is that virtually anyone can make it – using equipment you’d normally find at home or behind the bar.
“The type of equipment a brand needs for cold brew will differ based on the brewing approach and their wholesale strategy and goals,” Lauren adds.
Once prepared, cold brew is perishable, and it must always be stored in an airtight container and kept refrigerated to ensure optimal freshness. That’s why many coffee shops opt to buy pre-made, bag-in-box coffee concentrates instead of making cold brew themselves.
Even so, however, dispensing is still an issue – especially when it comes to barista workflow and ease of service. One solution for this is Marco’s POUR’D cold coffee dispenser. The system is compatible with any ready-to-drink bag-in-box concentrate coffee source, as well as other vessels.
It’s a quick and easy way to serve cold brew directly at your point of service. The POUR’D dispenser can also be programmed to a preset volume and automatic concentrate dilution ratio.
“Trends indicate that a paradigm shift is underway that will result in consumers becoming more accustomed to receiving a wide range of cold and hot coffee beverages directly from tap systems,” Lauren says. “We’re seeing a tremendous amount of innovation happening to support this need, and dispensing equipment for cold coffee applications is a big contributor.”
Connor explains that New Ground brews coffee concentrate using coffee that the company roasts, before packaging it using the bag-in-box format.
“It can be easily combined with the Marco POUR’D system for a streamlined and automated cold brew experience,” he adds.
How can you make cold brew more profitable?
When you consider the requirements for storage, the time it takes to steep, and the volume of coffee needed to prepare it, classically-prepared cold brew can quickly become more expensive than other classic brewing methods. As such, it’s important to ask questions about its profitability.
“When brands think about the expense of making cold brew, it’s important to consider the direct and indirect cost factors,” Lauren emphasises. “If a brand uses a standard immersion method in-store, the direct cost contributors include limited coffee yields and the labour required for pre and post-brewing.”
However, she says there are a number of ways to keep cold brew costs down.
Firstly, she says that businesses can cut down on waste and extra expenses by using cold brew concentrate instead of large batches of ready-to-drink cold brew. Lauren explains that a concentrate will last much longer than traditionally-prepared cold brew and is highly versatile.
“Cafés can dilute to a straight black cold brew or serve concentrate as an ingredient for premium menu items,” Lauren elaborates. “Operationally, it’s easy for staff to use, can be stored at ambient temperatures – so you never run out – and comes with a minimum six-month shelf life.”
Connor, meanwhile, explains that creating an efficient system for making cold brew is imperative. He says that for businesses looking to optimise the process, he recommends the Marco POUR’D.
“There are savings when it comes to the labour and preparation, as well as precision with brewing and dose with every serve,” Connor explains. “The customer experience is also a 10/10.”
He adds that cold coffee beverages can be a great way for hospitality businesses to diversify, too. Online retail and ecommerce are popular platforms for ready-to-drink cold coffee products in particular.
It’s clear that cold brew is here to stay, and hospitality businesses that don’t keep up will clearly end up being left behind – especially in warmer months when people move away from hot coffee drinks.
However, preparing cold brew in a profitable, manageable, and efficient way is easier said than done. Whether by using bag-in-box concentrate or switching to a clean, clutter-free system like the POUR’D system, streamlining your cold brew offering can clearly help coffee shops and other hospitality brands take their menu to the next level.