Coffee Shop Innovation in 2022

These days, it’s tempting to pay attention to what’s trending. A memorable scene at the Oscars, the latest TikTok audio, and last night’s sports game churn up clicks and engagement. But trending isn’t built to last. Small businesses who find success–the kind that endures–are those who innovate.

Coffee shop innovation is an important value at Texas Coffee School. In fact, our business was built on innovation! When we began in 2010, we were teaching classes in students’ houses when coffee education was a fairly new concept. Now, over 12 years later, hundreds of students from across the country visit our classroom every year to learn about Coffeepreneurship®. And we teach every one of them our secret sauce behind innovation.

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coffee shop innovation

We’re bringing you a few of our best tips below on how to build a coffee shop that lasts:

  • Create experiences for customers
  • Make coffee more accessible
  • Update menu with health-conscious items for Millenials and Gen Z
  • Enhance coffee shop technology

Create Experiences for Customers

Any cafe can buy an espresso machine, set out chairs, and curate a nice aesthetic. But what’s next? What’s your unique selling proposition that 1) gets customers in the door and 2) makes them want to return?

With a coffee shop on every block, customers have plenty of “good enough” options. What they need–and what you can provide–is an experience.

dwell house coffee and tap

Source: Dwell House Coffee and Tap Facebook

Dwell House Coffee and Tap in Hutto, Texas, (run by a Texas Coffee School Coffeepreneur®) serves craft beers, wine, seltzers, and cocktails alongside their coffee menu. The shop is designed to be “a communal gathering place…for the neighborhood, commuters, and travelers alike.” The fun atmosphere they offer day and night makes the cafe a one-stop shop for all beverage drinkers.

Soirée Coffee Bar in Dallas, Texas, (run by a Texas Coffee School Coffeepreneur®) offers a delectable brunch menu and live jazz music. Dallasites can skip the quiet coffee spots and bring their friends here for an “all day soirée.”

Source: Civil Goat Coffee Co. FacebookCivil Goat Coffee in Austin, Texas, lists a unique brand element in their name–goats! Stroll around the shop’s grounds and pet the goat, Butters, plus a few chickens.

Catalina Coffee in Houston, Texas, is home to a weekly Coffee & Cars event, where auto aficionados meet and check out each other’s collectible cars. And every week, the line for coffee stretches out the door.

Make Coffee More Accessible

Following the pandemic, Americans are back to drinking coffee in shops and offices. One survey group’s coffee consumption outside the home has risen by 8% since last year. People are itching for their everyday coffee run, and you can be the one to greet them with a smile and an espresso.

There are two ways we’re seeing coffee shops innovate to serve more customers:

1. Adding coffee services to an existing business.

A small business can benefit by adding a coffee program to their space. You already have the infrastructure and target audience, so why not incorporate a new revenue stream? Get creative on how your business models can benefit each other.

Dwell House Coffee and Tap, mentioned above, owns both the coffee shop and the hair salon next door. Customers can grab a coffee to sip on while they’re in the salon chair.

Wolfsmiths Heights in Houston, Texas, (not affiliated with Texas Coffee School) started selling coffee out of their custom car and motorcycle garage. The venue has since hosted other local vendors and offers something for everyone in the neighborhood.

wolfsmiths heights

2. Serving coffee on the go.

Coffee to-go may look like a traditional drive thru window as well as a coffee truck or trailer. The benefits of a drive thru coffee shop include:

  • Convenient access for customers
  • Speed and efficiency
  • Flexibility within a current coffee shop model

With the right amount of operational efficiency, to-go coffee services can bring in more revenue with a relatively low investment.

Update Menu with Health-Conscious Items for Millennials and Gen Z

Depending on your shop’s location and target demographic, it might be time to upgrade your menu for a health-conscious audience. A survey of 200 adults ages 21 to 40 years old found that half plan to buy more plant products this year. 80% already choose at least one plant-based alternative. And 6 in 10 want to purchase more nonalcoholic drinks like coffee and tea.

Also, don’t overlook Gen Z as an important target audience. While many still live under their parents’ roof, some Gen Z young adults are entering their early 20s–and bringing their wallets. In fact, Business Insider reports that this generation has a spending power of over $140 billion. 5.9% of Gen Z is vegetarian, 2.9% is gluten-free, and 44% are visiting restaurants more often!

Meanwhile, milk alternatives are on the rise. Using oat milk in your coffee shop menu offers advantages like better taste, more frothability, and economic sustainability.

oat milk menu

Enhance Coffee Shop Technology

In an ever-increasing digital world, your coffee shop can keep up by using the latest technology. Online ordering puts your menu at a customer’s fingertips. Reduce busy lines and wait times by implementing an online order system.

Superautomatic espresso machines can supplement baristas by helping to make advanced drinks. Texas Coffee School recently added an Eversys Cameo to its existing lineup of traditional (manual) espresso machines used in classes. It is a “two-step” machine that can pull shots and steam milk as well as a skilled barista. While technology can now automate some of the traditional barista’s roles, we never underestimate the importance of customer service and workflow. Barista training remains relevant, teaching employees how to offer an unmatched coffee experience.

Eversys technology

We teach baristas hands-on coffee equipment operations and customer service skills.

Sign yourself or a barista up today!

marco pour'd rtd system

Another technology brand we love is Marco Beverage Systems. Their new POUR’D RTD system (that just won “Best New Product” at the SCA trade show) offers a new way to serve cold coffee concentrate–on tap. Through one small in-counter font it mixes and dispenses your house-made or bag in the box cold brew coffee concentrate with cold water, hot water, or leaves it in concentrated form for use as an ingredient in other drinks. It’s this type of game-changing technology that keeps your customers happy and helps you run a more efficient coffee shop. 

Texas Coffee School Helps Students Innovate

When you attend a class with us, you take the first step toward successful Coffeepreneurship®. We’ve helped hundreds of coffee shops build innovative, lasting business models. And yours can be next! Check out the list of upcoming 3-Day Coffee Business Master Classes and invest in your future. 

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The Best Coffee Training Available

We’ve helped hundreds of students successfully launch their own coffee shop businesses. Join us in our 5-Star Rated Coffee Classes, whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to open a coffee shop, a manager, a barista or home enthusiast looking to sharpen your skills.