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Seasonality and your café menu

We are entering the pumpkin spice season, which is also sometimes called Autumn. How does a drink become synonymous with a season? This is a lesson in the power of seasonal drinks for your café menu.

Written by Andrew Tolley
Posted in News on 22 novembre 2022

We are entering the pumpkin spice season, which is also sometimes called Autumn. How does a drink become synonymous with a season? This is a lesson in the power of seasonal drinks for your café menu.

Your cafe menu tells a story about your business. Prices convey premium, budget, and quality. The naming of the different drinks convey local or foreign, fancy or common. A menu is much more than a factual list of products available at specific prices. It is a peak into the soul of your business. One of many signals that can tell your story without words. Your customers intuit from the menu, what kind of experience they can have, how they can interact and whether they will feel welcome.

The drinks menu in a cafe tends to be built around traditional drinks. These drinks serve the purpose of telling customers what you are as a business. If a customer sees a menu that says cappuccino, or espresso or filter coffee, then obviously, they will know they can get a coffee, however, more importantly they will know what kind of business you are. They are comforted by the familiarity of your menu and also know whether they will get the items they are after.

What does this have to do with the pumpkin spice latte (PSL), or any seasonal addition to your standard menu? Menu additions add further richness to your story. The PSL tells us it is Autumn, it also tells us it is getting cooler and comforting spices and hot drinks will make us feel better. It is limited to a few months. This scarcity makes it more valuable because we do not want to miss out on the experience, while it is available. It is indulgent, a sweet and ‘tasty’ treat or reward.

Making seasonal drinks prominent in your marketing can attract new customers, while also giving your existing customers another way to experience your business. If you add a PSL, or any seasonal drink to your menu, it can be customised to reflect your café’s identity, but still be recognisable to customers who have never experienced your café.

What are the hallmarks of a good seasonal drink -

  • Price point- generally higher than other drink menu items. This highlights that it is special. Other standard drinks on your menu can appeal to price conscious customers, the seasonal drink targets impulse and often indulgence.
  • It should be true to your own brand - using ingredients that reflect the quality level and values your brand aspires to.
  • It should have familiarity - a PSL is still based on coffee, and people like sweet milky coffee. If it was just a pumpkin drink, it might have been too foreign to order for many people.
  • Keep it simple - it needs to be cost effective, easy to make and easy to source ingredients
  • Keep it seasonal - it needs to have both limited availability and come back on the menu next year. Every year Starbucks gets a huge revenue uplift from their PSL season. So, you don’t need to invent something completely new, get inspiration from other menus and make it your own.

Author:Andrew Tolley

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