19 Sales-Boosting Strategies for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa

It’s hard to imagine a beverage menu without coffee and tea. These hardworking staples can be served hot or iced, no matter the season or weather, and throughout the day, from breakfast to between meals to after dinner.

As ubiquitous as they are, however, there are still plenty of ways to boost the sales of coffee, tea and cocoa in the mainstream food service setting.


It’s no surprise that the overall coffee market is growing. Driving this growth is the quality of coffee and the options for customization available to customers. New formats and varieties are emerging as coffee continues to resonate with consumers. Read more in our Coffee Break-Down.

1) Offer “flavor shots” of syrup or creamer, for any hot or cold coffee or espresso-based coffee beverage—such as lattes and cappuccinos—either à la carte or as part of a customization program.

2) Provide alternative sweeteners and lighteners—including honey, agave, and plant-based milks, such as soy and almond—for those avoiding refined sugar and dairy.

3) In addition to the familiar latte and cappuccino, experiment with next-level espresso-based beverages, such as:

  • Macchiato (espresso “marked” with a small amount of foamed milk)
  • Americano (espresso diluted with hot water)
  • Cortado (espresso “cut” with warm milk)
  • Shakerato (espresso shaken with sugar and ice cubes to chill it)

4) Get serious about iced coffee by making it available year-round—not just during warm weather. Iced latte and iced cappuccino are also growing in popularity, according to Datassential.

5) Consider getting in on the fast-growing cold-brew coffee trend; according cold brew has experienced explosive growth over the past few years.

6) Upsell iced or cold-brew coffee with such add-ons as:

  • Specialty flavors (for example, maple-pecan, salted caramel, vanilla)
  • Whipped cream
  • Frozen coffee ice cubes

7) Use coffee in cocktails, such as an espresso martini or Irish coffee and other coffee-based after-dinner drinks. (Listen to Episode 18 of Dennis Knows Food for more.)


Specialty Tea is a fast-growing segment in beverages sales, from breakfast tea to spiced chai to classic sweet tea, there’s a tea for every time and place.

8) Step up tea service with a selection of different teas, including not only traditional black tea, but also herbal tea, green tea, and premium specialty teas such as jasmine or Rooibos.

9) Experiment with globally inspired tea concepts:

  • Serve hot tea as the Russians do: with a side of cherry preserves or another sweet jam that the customer can stir in to taste
  • The spiced, sweetened milk tea from India called chai can be served either hot or cold, or turned into a blended beverage
  • Moroccan mint tea consists of green tea steeped with sugar and lots of fresh mint
  • Make a tea latte with extra-strong brewed tea and hot steamed milk, sweetened to taste

10) Offer iced tea year-round, not just during the summer; according to Datassential, iced tea is now more likely to be consumed than hot tea.

11) Mix iced tea with sweetened condensed milk as a variation on Vietnamese iced coffee.

12) Combine iced tea 50-50 with lemonade or fruit juice to create a refreshing specialty beverage.

13) Infuse iced white, green, or black tea with flavors such as ginger, pineapple, strawberry, and more.

14) Use hot or iced tea in cocktails, such as a hot tea toddy or black tea punch with rum.


Hot chocolate is the last piece of the classic beverage puzzle. Although 47% of customers love it, according to Datassential, hot cocoa/chocolate is only featured on 16.7% of U.S. restaurant menus, representing an opportunity for renewed growth. One way to boost sales of this cold-weather favorite is by marketing it as an indulgent treat.

15) Topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle or sprinkles.

16) Flavored with mint or peppermint.

17) Laced with mocha and ancho or cayenne chile.

18) Offered in dark or white chocolate.

19) Paired with a biscotti or churro for dipping.

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