Creating a Coffee Shop Menu


denver coffee shops, bardo coffee house, denver, coffee, coffee shops, menu

We came up with a menu back when we wrote the Products & Services section of our business plan, but we’ve definitely made edits along the way as we’re getting closer to what we actually see ourselves serving. Even though it’s still not final, it feels so good to see it come together! During our research phases of visiting coffee shops and reading different coffee start up books, we got a range of ideas of how we could design our coffee shop menu and the effect it would have on our guests. Here are some things to consider when creating a coffee shop menu, with some pictures from our ventures.

6 [D’s] to Think about in Menu Design for a Coffee Shop

Creating a coffee shop menu

1. Drinks– yes, a good start! Think about what you’re actually going to sell. Once we had our ideas and the categories of what we wanted, it helped to organize and write them down in detail (and even break down how you make it and serve it- taste test included). Visit coffee shops, and read as many menus as you can. Look online for shops outside of your region, even across the world. Read menus for cafes or bars as well for fresh and unique ideas. Note your favorite drinks and flavor combinations and get all your ideas down on paper, where you can over time narrow it down and make edits. Here are some basics to include on an average coffee shop menu:

  • Coffee: coffee (& brewing method)
  • Espresso: straight, in water (americano/tonic), or with milk (macchiato, cortado, cappuccino, latte, mocha)- these are popular ones in America, but there are many more options
  • Non-coffee: hot chocolate, steamers, tea, italian soda, juice, chai/tea latte, cascara, matcha… whatever your little heart desires
  • Specs: note the sizes, temperature (hot/cold/blended), milk options, flavors/flourishes you want to provide for each drink
  • Seasonals or specialities: where you can get creative from flavored dessert drinks to cocktail coffees

The Coffee Collective, Copenhagen

A delicious latte from The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen. Note the classy wood menu per each table.

2. Demand- know what’s selling in your area and how much people are willing to pay for it. Know the trends in your niche and how to fulfill the demands of your target market. Know the trends to come, or create them, so you can meet a demand that’s not even there yet. Everything you serve should be in line with your vision and consistently attract your market. A family-friendly suburb coffee shop menu will be different than one of a downtown college shop.

Brew Lab, Edinburgh

BrewLab in Edinburgh– their menu design and selection fits well with their brand inviting in studious and intellectual university students.

3. Depth– determine the depth of your product line on the menu, based on your target market, brand, and selection. As you can see, there are a few basic categories, but you can make countless different combinations of these drinks. You obviously can’t list them all, so you have to find that balance between making your menu easy to read but letting others know you can make a higher variety (if you want to). Decide what you want to highlight, how much you want to spell out, and make it consistent with your brand and vision. 
Purple Door Menu

Simple and classy, and easy on the eyes at Purple Door in Denver. So delicious too!

4. Design- determine how you want to display your menu. Will you condense everything on one board or spread it out into multiple ones? How will you categorize your items? What will be the actual look of the menu: color, style, medium, size, location… All of these variables will add to the dynamic of your customer’s experience. You want to catch people’s eye, make a connection and leave an impression.

Tap Coffee, London

Love the unique glass menu that matches their vintage greenhouse feel at Tap Coffee in London.

5. Dollars- prices are important and we talked about this a bit in the Marketing Mix P’s. Know what competitors are pricing and determine where you want to position yourself. Also make sure each item’s costs are covered, having calculated every dollar per ounce for each item.

6. Differentiation- think about what will set your coffee shop menu apart. This doesn’t necessarily need to be an item, although it can be a certain drink or food that no one else has. Or it can be that it’s prepared in a way no one else does. Or it can be any of the above five factors, resulting in a unique menu design, or a way of delivering/taking orders, or anything original to you. Shoot for something memorable that gives people a look at your shops personality, who you are and your vision.

The Elephant House in Edinburgh. Also a cafe. Plenty of elephant to match!

I may have overthought the process of making a coffee shop menu, but it’s what every customer is going to look at, and thus makes a big impression about your shop. It can either add value to, or hurt their purchasing experience, which can affect your success. Think about your vision and the effect you want to have on your customers, and your menu should consistently support this. Your menu will communicate your vibe and bridge your products to your customers.  As I’ve said before, every business choice you make should support your vision and appeal to your target market, so your menu is no different. Go through these points, and make edits and revisions over time. Not to mention you’ll still probably be making changes even after you open, and that’s ok too.

All these mentioned shops are definitely worth visiting by the way. Check them out and more in previous posts- Denver Coffee Shops & those from our Northern Europe trip.

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