Barista Battle and Seasonal Drink Ideas

Barista Battle

It is important for coffee shops to add seasonal drinks to their menus. They provide variety, anticipation, and increase sales. We also enjoy doing something unique and fun once a year in addition to our seasonal drinks. We call it the Barista Battle! Our baristas get excited each year when it comes around, and our customers love it. It strengthens the team, creates a fun environment for customers, and boosts sales.

When we create our seasonal drink menus, we add two espresso-based drinks, and one non-coffee drink. Offering a non-coffee drink allows you to cater to a broader audience. Within the two espresso-based drinks, we ensure one of them is a crowd-pleaser and not too outside the box with flavors. Then, we add a second that is more creative. This also helps to cater to a larger audience. When crafting your seasonal drink recipes, it is also best to keep the amount of syrup and sauce about the same for each recipe. This ensures you have consistent sweetness levels across your menu.

Our Favorite Seasonal Drinks

Spring: Honey Caramel Latte, Chocolate Covered Strawberry Mocha, Sweet Lavender Tea Lemonade

Summer: Toffee Brownie Mocha, Roatan Island Latte, Mango Green Tea Lemonade

Fall: Pumpkin Spice Latte, Blackberry Cobbler Latte, Spiced Caramel Apple Cider

Winter: Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread Latte, Spice Caramel Apple Cider

Barista Battle Steps

We also look forward to our Barista Battle each January! Here is how it works:

  1. We divide our baristas into teams (we recommend 3-4 teams), and each team creates a drink recipe for the manager to test and tweak to fit our recipe style.
  2. Once the drinks are ready, we add them to our menus and begin fun promos on our social media and in our shop.
  3. At the end of each day during the competition, the manager tallies up the number of drinks sold using Toast. Then they send the totals to the team who updates our fun, customer-facing score board.
  4. We give periodic scoring updates on social media to maintain the excitement.
  5. At the end of January, whichever drink we sold the most of wins and stays permanently on our menu under the “Barista Battle Winners” section.
  6. The winning team receives a fun prize!

The past few winning drinks at our Sunnyvale location were a White Chocolate Lavender Mocha, French Toast Latte, and Toasted Butterscotch Latte.

While we leave room for our baristas to get creative with their drink ideas, it is important to have guidelines for the Barista Battle drinks to ensure you are still providing high quality products that appeals to your audience and adds something new to your menu.

Barista Battle Guidelines

First, we require that it be a brand-new recipe rather than changing the name of an existing drink. It also needs to be different from current recipes. Next, they cannot repeat any past Barista Battle drinks. It also must be latte-based so that we can offer each drink at the same price. For example, if one team chose a matcha and another team chose a lemonade, we would need to sell them at very different price points which would create an unfair advantage in the competition. Lattes also allow versatility as lattes come hot, iced, and frozen.

While creativity is great, if it is too outside-the-box, it will likely not sell as well and thus lower our profits and their chances of winning. An example of this was our Spicy Mocha from several years ago. During that Barista Battle, very few people were brave enough to try it, so the Spicy Mocha sadly lost. It is best to aim for a crowd pleaser!

Next, each drink ideally uses our current syrups and possibly one new flavor at most. This prevents us from needing to purchase more than three or four new syrups (inevitably some new syrups will not work, but we like to try a few). Lastly, we allow each team three chances to experiment with their drink. This prevents each team from using too much product in experimentation. We allow our team a free drink at each shift, and they are welcome to use that drink to experiment as well.

Once they have a drink idea, they send their recipe to the manager. The manager ensures that the recipe will sell well, and they also tweak the recipe to fit our recipe guidelines. This prevents one drink from being overly sweet in comparison to another. We typically begin the drink testing phase one month prior to the Barista Battle in order to finalize drinks and prepare new menus and POS buttons.

Both seasonal drinks and the Barista Battle build anticipation amongst both baristas and customers. If you would like to peruse our seasonal drinks or past Barista Battle drinks, here is a link to our HOPE Coffee DTS and HOPE Coffee Sunnyvale Instagram accounts.

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