Best drinks for your coffee shop menu
There are certain staples that everybody expects to see on a modern coffee shop menu. Some have been a familiar sight for decades, while others have only recently become household names.
If you’re updating your coffee shop menu, you need to be aware of the best drinks to include, and how to use your commercial coffee machine to create each one.
Here are some of the most popular coffee shop drinks both for your menu and for your future commercial espresso machine training sessions.
An espresso is the purest form of coffee, made by forcing steam through ground coffee beans (and often incorrectly pronounced as ‘expresso’).
For true coffee aficionados, there’s the option of a double espresso or ‘doppio’, and many long/tall coffee drinks start with a single or double espresso, to which hot water or milk is added.
The classic ‘black coffee’, Americano is espresso diluted with hot water. Milk and cream can be added later to suit the customer’s preference, but are not part of the recipe itself.
An Americano can be made in any size just by changing the amount of hot water, although for larger sizes a double espresso shot can help to retain more of the flavour.
Balance the different flavours to suit your personal taste, for a fruity coffee that’s neither too sweet nor too spiced, but packed with autumnal aromas.
One of the best-known coffee drinks in the UK (and one of the most popular), a correctly made cappuccino is layered like a trifle, with espresso at the bottom, steamed milk in the middle and foamed milk on top in approximately equal quantities.
The layers of a cappuccino should not be mixed, so cappuccino foam art is typically added afterwards by sprinkling cinnamon or chocolate powder over a metal template or stencil.
A latte is similar to a cappuccino, but the construction is different in a couple of ways. The layers are more mixed, with more steamed milk used and only a light top layer of foam.
This thinner top layer and mixed construction allows for latte foam art to be created by drawing the darker coffee up through the foam, to create an image such as a leaf, heart or seasonal design – a skill in its own right that can set apart the very best baristas.
Flat whites are one of the more recent additions to coffee shop menus but have quickly become hugely popular as an alternative to a latte.
The key differences here include the serving sizes – flat whites are normally smaller, giving them a stronger flavour overall – and the technique used to pour, as a flat white is filled gradually, with a quick finish to leave a thin layer of milk microfoam on the surface.
The unsung hero of the coffee house menu is the macchiato, traditionally an espresso shot with a small amount of foamed milk on top – this is the ‘mark’ that gives the macchiato its name. The word macchiato actually translates to ‘stained’ as the milk is stained with the espresso shot.
Some of the big coffee chains also use this name for a variety of other drinks containing larger quantities of milk, but a true macchiato should be little more than a white dot on the espresso surface.
How to choose your coffee shop menu
Research is the best way to decide which drinks you want to offer, and commercial coffee machines should be able to produce the dark espresso and frothy microfoam milk required for all of the above.
Once you’ve tried them all, it’s just a case of deciding what your customers will like the best, how many different options you can offer, and how much to charge for the ultimate coffee shop menu.