Consultative Selling: Help Customers Tap the Red Hot Iced Coffee Trend

Looking for a hot trend to help customers tap into this summer? Look no further than iced coffee – a simple, popular and highly profitable beverage category that’s as appropriate in fine dining operations as it is in fast-food. A report in USA Today this week said iced coffee may well be “the summer of 2009s hottest beverage.” It pointed to product launches and promotions of various iced coffee beverages at national restaurant and convenience store chains, including McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Cold Stone Creamery.

The report cited NPD data that shows iced coffee has passed iced tea sales as a foodservice breakfast drink. The number of morning meals that included iced coffee has more than doubled over the past five years from 2 percent in 2004 to 4.6 percent through February. The data further show that the biggest fans of iced coffee are teens and women. Teen girls are 84 percent more likely to have iced coffee than the average American, and women 18 to 34 are 68 percent more likely, according to NPD.

Brew it Right
Making and serving iced coffee is simple, and no special equipment is needed beyond what a customer already uses to serve freshly brewed coffee. The only difference is that coffee to be served iced should be brewed at double strength to compensate for the dilution that takes place when ice melts into it.

Here’s what Dunkin’ Donuts recommends:

  • Double the amount of coffee grounds that would normally be used to brew hot coffee.
  • After the coffee has brewed, remove it from the burner and let it cool.
  • Pour the coffee into a temperature-safe container and add ice until the mixture cools and doubles in volume. (Remember, the melting ice dilutes the coffee, which is why iced coffee is brewed using double the normal amount of grounds.)
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and serve within a few hours of brewing for freshest flavor.

Alternatively, double-strength coffee or fresh-brewed espresso shots can be poured directly over a full glass of ice just before serving, adding cold water and/or additional ice to reach desired strength.

In addition to plain iced coffee, sell simple add-ins that can command higher menu prices and offer more variety. Examples include chocolate and other flavored syrups (i.e., vanilla, hazelnut, almond, caramel), whipped cream, ground cinnamon and chocolate shavings. Get your corporate chef involved to do some sampling, bring in your tabletop specialist to show off glassware options and make some suggestions for merchandising to brew up even stronger sales and profits -- for you and your customers, alike.

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