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How to Create a Stellar Coffee Shop Menu

Coffee Shop Menu Design

Hi there,

Alright listen, I wrote about menus in a recent newsletter and primarily covered what NOT to do.

So, in this issue, I'm going to cover the "do's" of crafting a fantastic menu.

Let's jump right in.

Make it simple... enough

Yup, I'm all for a simple menu, but it only has to be simple enough.


Don't break your back trying to cut as much as possible, just make sure that customers can understand the menu and find what they're looking for in a few seconds.


Here's how to do that:

  1. Use headlines to break up categories – such as "Hot" or "Not Coffee" give your customers a way to simply navigate the menu.

  2. Make pricing simple – if something is repeated over and over (like items priced the same), use ellipses (...) or vertical lines (|) to indicate that the pricing applies across multiple items rather than writing the same things over again (which makes your menu seem crowded and intimidating).

  3. Draw attention to your superstars – most cafes start their menu with "espresso", but most people don't order a simple double shot of espresso. Instead, make your superstar best-seller drinks take the main stage of your menu.

  4. Cover the basics and leave the rest to customization – too often I'll see cafes with dozens of "different" specialty lattes just because they have many different syrup flavors and give every permutation a cutesy name. Instead, cover the basics (mocha, caramel latte, vanilla latte, plus one unique), then just leave the rest off the menu. You can include a list of your syrups and have the barista make recommendations. This saves time when customers are making decisions and even reduces the variability in your SKUs – you might even be able to nix some of those rarely-used syrups!

Own a specialty drink

Let's face it, the big green mermaid coffee brand popularized the Caramel Macchiato.


Well, they've also linked their brand with the product name.


When customers think "caramel macchiato" they think "Starbucks."


So, having a Caramel Macchiato on your menu only increases the brand affinity for Starbucks, not your cafe.


Therefore, I propose that we scrap the Caramel Macchiato from specialty cafe menus (*gasp) and replace it with more meaningful, unique drinks.


Alright, here's what to do:

  1. Identify or create a "superstar" coffee drink – maybe it's already your best-seller, or maybe it's your own creation you know will be a smash hit.

  2. Give it a unique name that aligns with your cafe's brand – is your cafe named Blue Bull Coffee? Call your unique drink a "Bull's Eye" or "Matador" or the like. Cafe named Burning Rubber Coffee? How about drinks named after classic cars or "No Speed Limit" and so on?

  3. Put your special drinks where customers will immediately see them – these drinks are the ones that your customers can't get anywhere else. The drinks they will tell their friends about. The one they will keep coming back for. Put them at center stage on your menu and make sure your customers see them.

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