What’s popular in the coffee shop world is always changing. Jumping from locally-sourced ingredients to industrial-looking decor, it can be hard to keep up with what people are into. There are some trends, though, that stick around longer than a couple months or a year, quietly growing in popularity until, before you know it, they’re shining at the forefront. The trend of experiential coffee is turning out to be one of those trends. Starbucks recently announced that they will add Reserve coffee bars to up to 1,000 cafe locations, mostly across the United States. Reserve bars are, essentially, the coffee giant’s attempt to take on the premium brewing experience that customers have started to demand recently.kari-shea-189168.jpg

Coffee shops have always sort of thrived in this environment. There’s something about seeing your drink made right in front of you that intrigues customers, especially when there’s a particularly impressive feature involved like latte art. Mixing this in-person experience with specialty drinks and luxury coffee, which has seen a huge growth recently, seems like a recipe for success. After all, each year that goes by introduces a handful of new drinks into the world. From the notorious pumpkin spice latte to nitrogen-infused blends, there’s always something new right around the corner.So what kind of drinks can your coffee shop offer for this experience without undergoing a full remodel? Here’s five drinks that’ll get customers talking (or, more accurately, posting) about your creations:

  1. Nitro Coffee – While this does require the installation of a tap system, nitrogen cold-brewed coffee may very well pay off. With drinks averaging around $5 a glass, even a moderate number of monthly orders would be enough to account for the addition of extra equipment at your bar top. Not to mention that serving the frothy, creamy beverage in a clear glass will be sure to get your customers snapping pics to share on social media. Nitro coffee also has a specific creamy taste that has proven extremely difficult for ready-to-drink companies to replicate, giving physical locations with actual taps the leg-up. Even Dunkin’ Donuts has got it’s eye on nitro.

  2. Coffee and Tea Combos – These combinations have skyrocketed in popularity in America over the past year. While coffee/tea mixtures have been a hit in other countries for a while now, they’re just now starting to see a demand in the United States. Why? Consumers are eagerly looking to expand their culinary palletts to include tastes from around the world. Adding a Dirty Chai or Hong Kong’s popular Yuanyang drink to your menu could boost your number of regulars without requiring you to stock up on anything you probably don’t already have.

  3. Gourmet Blends – Specialty blends can attract customers, even though there’s nothing particularly flashy about it. Offering premium options that customers can’t find anywhere else in the area provides your coffee shop with a somewhat exclusive product, giving customers a reason to come back to your shop specifically, instead of just wherever is closest. Having multiple gourmet blends available can also show off that you have plenty of personalization options so customers feel like they can experiment and find a combination that is truly their own. 

  4. Exclusive and Custom Drinks – Have you ever seen a cranberry mocha? What about a roasted marshmallow and honey latte? We haven’t either. That’s where your shop has the best opportunity to shine. Encourage your staff to experiment a little when they have an idea and, when one of them finds a good combination, add it to the menu. Creating a delicious drink that customers can only get at your coffee shop drives interest. Pair it with an impressive presentation and you could see a whole new wave of loyal customers visiting in no time.

  5. Cold Brew – Cold brew has been around for years now, but it’s seeing a growing demand each and every year. The concentrated nature of cold brewing makes it great for mixing with milk, cream, chocolate or just about anything else you could think of. Cold brew can also be served hot or cold, so there’s extra versatility to help balance out the more time-consuming brewing process.

Which coffee trends are you looking to adopt this year? Which trends do you think are on their last leg? Let us know in the comments below.