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Why Cold Brew Is Big Business

The hottest coffee on menus today, cold brew has the power to increase check averages and drive incremental sales.

Photo Courtesy of zakiroff.

As inflation and labor costs continue to skyrocket, there is a lot outside of an operator’s control—and yet, consumers still expect a great experience when they dine out. Now, more than ever, items that are low-labor, high-margin, and well-loved by customers can be the key to running a profitable restaurant operation.

Enter: Coffee, the most consumed beverage in the U.S. According to the 2022 National Coffee Association (NCA) Data Trends report, 66 percent of Americans now drink coffee every day—even more than tap water. Remarkably, that figure is also up by 14 percent since January 2021. This is the largest increase since NCA began tracking data.

Cold brew—up 245 percent on menus across four years, according to Datassential—can be a great way for operators to tackle multiple challenges at once. Thanks to Segafredo Zanetti’s suite of ready-to-drink cold brew solutions, restaurants can offer high-quality, consistent crowd pleasers that require almost zero extra labor yet deliver high dollar margins. It’s a great opportunity for operators to add revenue at a time when that’s been difficult to do.

“Cold brew is the perfect menu item to drive incrementality,” says Kristen Impastato, director of marketing for Segafredo Zanetti. “Whether you are a coffee-centric restaurant or not, consumers want coffee, and during all day parts, there is an opportunity for you to carry it. During the pandemic, we have seen check averages increasing and consumers making one stop for all their food and beverage needs. Even if you have never carried coffee, our cold brew offers a turnkey solution to carry it now and drive incremental revenue and profits.” Increasingly, cold brew is overtaking hot coffee in popularity at leading chains. And according to GrubHub, cold brew was one of the top five to-go items ordered on its platform during the pandemic. What’s more, the Spring NCA report revealed that cold brew remained the third most popular coffee preparation in January 2022—on par with highs from the previous July—confirming its year-round popularity with operators and consumers alike.

Not Just a Trend

“Cold brew is more than just a trend,” says Dorothea Hescock, senior manager of quality at Segafredo Zanetti. “It’s a new way to experience coffee. Diners enjoy the subtle sweetness that comes through and the less bitter finish with cold brew. Cold-brewed coffee versus hot-brewed coffee yields different flavor compounds out of the same bean, resulting in cold brew’s unique taste.”

But not all cold brew is created equal. “Segafredo Zanetti Cold Brew uses specially selected coffees without preservatives or other additives that you see in some cold brew offerings on the market,” Hescock explains. “Our great-tasting, clean-label products put us in the premium category for cold brew. And because it comes ready-to-drink, versus a concentrate or dry mix, our cold brew consistently delivers on taste and quality.” Segafredo Zanetti’s cold brew also is Rainforest Alliance Certified—a key sustainability designation.

“Whether you are a coffee-centric restaurant or not, consumers want coffee, and there is an opportunity for you to carry it.”

“Segafredo Zanetti Cold Brew uses our Brillante blend because its coffee beans and roast profile work fabulously extracted as a cold brew, highlighting the more nuanced notes in the blend,” Hescock says. “Cold brew creates entirely new opportunities in the coffee category, enabling operators to expand into refreshment beverages and beyond. Even customers who don’t normally drink hot coffee are being reintroduced to coffee in the form of cold brew and are being won over.”

”We designed our cold brew offerings and programs for operators to tap into and flourish in this growing and profitable segment,” says John Fitzgerald, the Away From Home division vice president of Segafredo Zanetti. “Our premium, ready-to-drink Cold Brew coffee and dispensing options—from the FlexTap bag-in-box to the NitroTap™—make introducing cold brew turnkey.”

Cold Brew on Menus

One increasingly recognized benefit of cold brew is its versatility across dayparts. As more consumers are switching to cold brew as their go-to coffee drink, cold brew is a platform for a wide array of beverages—from breakfast and brunch options (Cold Brew-mosa, anyone?) to afternoon snacks and refreshers to cocktails or mocktails at night. Cold brew also presents unique opportunities for limited-time offerings—seasonal and otherwise. “Popular flavors of cold brew LTOs are vanilla, cream, chocolate, and caramel,” Impastato says. “Flavor combinations around these are easy to sell; they are always our first recommendations to operators starting with cold brew or those with an established following. We have seen operators with cold brew LTOs sell three times more than just black cold brew. We provide easy-to-execute solutions based on your operational capacity. We know not every restaurant has a barista, nor do you need one with our cold brew program.”

Of course, as operators develop menus, key considerations include preparation time and labor. Segafredo Zanetti’s ready-to-drink cold brew options can be as simple as pushing a button.

“Our ready-to-drink cold brew solutions eliminate the labor typically required for producing and serving cold brew,” says Fitzgerald. “There is no production time involved, no mixing required, no waiting for the next batch to brew, and zero waste.”

Nitro Takes Cold Brew to the Next Level

Compared with cold brew, nitro cold brew has relatively low menu penetration, but is growing exponentially—up 904 percent on menus across four years, according to Datassential. Nitro is a type of cold brew that has been infused with nitrogen, creating a cascading effect of micro-bubbles and a smooth, rich, creamy texture. Nitro’s associated logistical and operational challenges, from gas service to cold chain distribution to space for kegerators, have proven to be barriers to adoption for many restaurants without existing draft systems and available taps.

The NitroTap™ by Segafredo Zanetti is one of the first countertop units designed to infuse nitrogen into the dispensed liquid at a consistent level without the use of a dedicated gas tank or service. This technology frees the operator from investing in a traditional draft setup that comes with maintenance costs and makes it ridiculously easy for any foodservice operation to serve nitro-infused, ready-to-drink cold brew out of a tap.

“We recognized the real challenges of operators wanting to get into cold brew and nitro and knew it was imperative to develop solutions to capture the incrementality this new coffee category can bring, especially at a time when operators need it the most,” Fitzgerald says.

“With cold beverage sales overtaking hot beverage sales, we’re hyper-focused on bringing innovations like the NitroTap to market. Look for more cool solutions from us in the near future.”



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