How to Grow your Coffee Business

Every restaurant is different — with its own brand, operational structure, culinary profile and set of objectives. When it comes to growing coffee business, these differentiators play a key role in creating a successful strategy. These strategies, however, are built on a consistent framework, which can be outlined in the following five-step process.

  1. Start with the customer

Successful coffee programs always begin with the customer — knowing their coffee drinking attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and behaviors. Trends, both inside and outside of a particular segment, should also be studied to see how the market is reacting. These inputs are vital when building a winning beverage strategy. This strategy doesn’t have to stop at traditional hot, brewed coffee either; the coffee taste profile is coveted in iced and frozen formats. Expanding into other profitable coffee beverages should be aligned with a smart, culinary-based product road map.

Key takeaways:

  • Consumer insights drive beverage strategies.
  • Menu innovation builds out the beverage platform.
  1. Focus on sales

The ultimate measure is selling more, so if efforts don’t result in increased cup sales, they weren’t successful. Therefore, a performance baseline needs to be established to measure against. Then, put your coffee supplier to the test and work with them to increase your business. This often is a matter of making good choices with regard to product selection, timing and prioritization.

Key takeaways:

  • Establish a performance baseline.
  • Put your coffee partner to the test.
  1. Develop a strategic approach

It is imperative to take a strategic approach, and by following a process with defined steps, you can expect a better return on this initiative. This approach streamlines the myriad of decisions and provides plenty of data from which to make them. The result at the end of the process is a coffee program that fits the brand, cuisine and objectives — all centered on the consumer.

Key takeaways:

  • Big decisions deserve a process-based approach with conscious choices.
  • Following a defined series of steps helps ensure a better outcome.
  • Strategy is customized to fit the brand, cuisine type and objectives.
  1. Engage with the consumer

Some of the pivotal decisions that can make or break a new coffee program involve how to engage the consumer as the program is commercialized. The consumer’s path to purchase serves as the road map. It flows as follows:

Awareness       ►        Trial     ►        Purchase          ►        Repeat             ►        LOYALTY

There are on-purpose activities that should be done at each of these critical stages. A true beverage partner will help you invest in the activities that have the most leverage in the quest for loyalty and encourage you to really “lean-in” to ensure their success.

Key takeaways:

  • Link strategy to the consumers’ buying behavior.
  • On-purpose activities at each stage make the difference.
  • Lean into these on-purpose actions with a strident purpose.
  1. Encourage a routine

Coffee may be one of the world’s most powerful habits. Habits include a cue, a behavior and a reward. Advertising and promotions are keys to creating the cue for your coffee during the awareness and trial phases. Building a coffee brand identity and story can serve as the basis for a compelling cue.

The goal behavior is to get your target consumers to drink your coffee, so the taste experience is absolutely essential. Defining what goes in the cup can create the kind of “reward” for your consumers that causes a repeat of that experience — resulting in the routine known as loyalty.

Key takeaways:

  • Coffee is a powerful habit.
  • Leverage the cue and the reward to build coffee into their routine.
  • Differentiate what is in the cup for a memorable, habit-forming experience.

S&D has been helping restaurateurs develop successful beverage strategies for decades — combining our industry leadership, deep experience and real-world market insights to deliver innovative solutions.