Creating a profitable cold brew setup

cold brew

Cold brew coffee has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and as such, it’s become a staple product for cafés and other hospitality businesses around the world.

However, when adding a new product to a café’s menu, there are always concerns: how will customers respond? Will it be successful? And how can a café keep it profitable?

While the rapid rise of cold brew is evidence enough that this trend can be potentially lucrative for businesses, there are some things to consider keeping costs down and improve profitability for a cafés cold coffee setup.

Why serve cold brew in the first place?

First and foremost, cold brew is categorically a versatile beverage: it can be made as a concentrate, enjoyed black over ice, and used as a base for other cold coffee drinks. Furthermore, by experimenting with different coffees, baristas can also easily tailor it for customers to appeal to individual taste preferences.

Its versatility aside, cold brew is also particularly popular among younger consumers. These consumers are driving the wider growth of higher quality coffee and continue to set trends across the industry, making them an important demographic to cater to.

Cold brew can also be used as a component in seasonal or signature drinks, or even as a base for unique coffee cocktails if a café is looking to try something new.

“According to the NCA National Coffee Drink Trends report, weekly cold brew consumption has doubled since 2016. The intersection of cold refreshment and craft coffee is the fastest-growing beverage segment within the $85 billion US coffee market,” says Lauren Pfeiffer, Director of Marketing at BKON Brew and a Marco Beverage Systems partner.

“It’s delicious and quick to serve. It’s a great option to take pressure off the espresso machine for cold coffee drinks,” says Connor Nestor, Head of Innovation at New Ground Coffee and another Marco partner.

Constructing a cold brew setup

Cold brew is one of most versatile coffee brewing methods commonly used today. However, it doesn’t prepare itself; the basics for any cold brew setup naturally include a good grinder, a vessel to prepare it in, and practical ways to store it.

There are several proprietary cold brew kits on the market, but much of the appeal of the beverage is that virtually anyone can make it, using equipment found at home or behind the bar.

“The type of equipment a brand needs for cold brew will differ based on the brewing approach and their wholesale strategy and goals,” Lauren says.

Once prepared, cold brew is perishable, and it must always be stored in an airtight container and kept refrigerated to ensure optimal freshness. That’s why many coffee shops opt to buy pre-made, bag-in-box coffee concentrates instead of making cold brew themselves.

Even so, dispensing is still an issue, especially when it comes to barista workflow and ease of service. One solution for this is Marco’s POUR’D cold coffee dispenser. The system is compatible with any ready-to-drink bag-in-box concentrate coffee source, as well as other vessels.

The POUR’D dispenser can also be programmed to a pre-set volume and automatic concentrate dilution ratio.

“Trends indicate that a paradigm shift is underway that will result in consumers becoming more accustomed to receiving a wide range of cold and hot coffee beverages directly from tap systems,” Lauren says.

“We’re seeing a tremendous amount of innovation happening to support this need, and dispensing equipment for cold coffee applications is a big contributor.”

Connor says that New Ground brews coffee concentrate using coffee that the company roasts, before packaging it using the bag-in-box format.

“It can be easily combined with the Marco POUR’D system for a streamlined and automated cold brew experience,” he says.

How can a café make cold brew more profitable?

When considering the requirements for storage, the time it takes to steep, and the volume of coffee needed to prepare it, classically prepared cold brew can quickly become more expensive than other classic brewing methods. As such, it’s important to ask questions about its profitability.

“When brands think about the expense of making cold brew, it’s important to consider the direct and indirect cost factors,” Lauren says.

“If a brand uses a standard immersion method in-store, the direct cost contributors include limited coffee yields and the labour required for pre- and post-brewing.”

However, Lauren says there are several ways to keep cold brew costs down.

Firstly, she says that businesses can cut down on waste and extra expenses by using cold brew concentrate instead of large batches of ready-to-drink cold brew. Lauren explains that a concentrate will last much longer than traditionally prepared cold brew and is highly versatile.

“Cafés can dilute to a straight black cold brew or serve concentrate as an ingredient for premium menu items,” Lauren says.

“Operationally, it’s easy for staff to use, can be stored at ambient temperatures – so you never run out – and comes with a minimum six-month shelf life.”

Connor explains that creating an efficient system for making cold brew is imperative. He says that for businesses looking to optimise the process, he recommends the Marco POUR’D.

“There are savings when it comes to the labour and preparation, as well as precision with brewing and dose with every serve. The customer experience is also a 10 out of 10,” he says.

It’s clear that cold brew is here to stay, and hospitality businesses that don’t keep up will clearly end up being left behind, especially in warmer months when people move away from hot coffee drinks.

However, preparing cold brew in a profitable, manageable, and efficient way is easier said than done. Whether by using bag-in-box concentrate or switching to a clean, clutter-free system like the POUR’D system, streamlining a café’s cold brew offering can clearly help coffee shops and other hospitality brands take their menu to the next level.

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