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Iced Coffee & Iced Tea

by Jay Weller, Owner @ Barista Pro Shop

Iced Tea

We're always surprised at Barista Pro Shop that our customers don't sell more Iced Tea than they do. Why? We're not sure, but we're going to take some of the blame for this one. We haven't provided as much information and support in the past to help our customers sell more Iced Tea, but this article is a first step to changing that. Most of you probably know that Iced Tea is an extremely popular beverage - just look around you the next time you go out for lunch. Most of you probably don't sell as much Iced Tea as you would like. Let's first talk about why you should offer Iced Tea:

  1. Extremely Popular Drink-enough said?
  2. Nice alternative to coffee for non coffee drinkers - we say it all the time - you should have some options for people who either don't care for coffee or who want something different this trip into your coffeehouse.
  3. Very profitable for the coffeehouse - It's why you're in business. You can brew fresh Iced Tea for pennies compared to reselling "Ready to Drink" bottled Iced Teas. Compared to your espresso based drinks and other options for your customers, you'll make extra good money on these.

So-how can you do it? Fortunately, tea is a little bit more forgiving than coffee is when it comes to brewing. That translates into more options for how you brew it. The two primary ways that Barista Pro Shop customers brew Iced Tea are with commercial brewing equipment and with decidedly less technical Iced Tea Dispensers (fancy name for a bucket with a spigot). You can buy a dedicated Iced Tea Brewer, but this is usually reserved for customers who brew a ton of Iced Tea. If you have a restaurant with significant lunch business, you may want to invest in a commercial tea brewer.

Alternatively, you can use your exisiting auto drip coffee brewer and get very good results. The key to this is that you MUST invest in brew baskets that you will dedicate to brewing Iced Tea. If you use the same brew baskets that you use for coffee, the coffee oils will flavor the Iced Tea (and not in a good way). We recommend that you mark the Iced Tea brew baskets to help your staff avoid confusion. You can dispense into airpots (same advice-use dedicated tea airpots), but most coffee houses will brew directly into an Iced Tea Dispenser or a "cambro" container (Rubbermaid pitchers also work well). The tea will be concentrated so that it will have the correct strength when poured over ice. If you don't want to invest in brewing equipment or you don't want to use your coffee brewer for tea, you can also brew tea by adding hot water to the tea bags and steeping it for 3 to 5 minutes. If you do this right in an Iced Tea Dispenser, you'll just have to remove the tea and add ice, and the spigot will deliver perfect Iced Tea. This is handy because you can make small batches - usually as small as 1 gallon. Both Numi and Mighty Leaf sell Iced Tea Pouches that can be used with this brewing method. You could also use a commercial toddy brewer (see "Iced Coffee") as an Iced Tea dispenser-but of course use one dedicated to tea.

Ok. So you have the tea - now what? We spoke with Annelies Zijderveld, marketing manager at Mighty Leaf, to get some great ideas of how to market and position Iced Tea in your coffeehouse. Some of the suggestions that Annelies makes are:

  1. Always offer a black Iced Tea, and then rotate other varieties on different days of the week. For instance, offer Ginger Peach on Thursdays and if customers would like to order a raspberry Iced Tea on that Thursday for instance, you can offer to flavor the black tea with your Monin or Da Vinci syrups. This will sweeten and flavor. Some of the more popular pairings are Peach, Raspberry, Mango, Frosted Mint and Blood Orange.
  2. Dedicate some space to Iced Tea on your menu board or on your specials board. If customers don't know you have it, they won't order it. You need to put the idea into your customers' heads that they want to order Iced Tea (or any beverage for that matter).
  3. A nationwide average for a 16 oz. Iced Tea should be about $2.25. Don't forget, that unlike in a restaurant, you won't be giving away nearly as many free refills-most of your Iced Tea business is likely to be take out.
  4. Emphasize to your customers that a choice for Iced Tea is a choice for health. Unsweetened Iced Tea has no sugar and there are lots of antioxidants in Iced Tea. It's also a good way to fool yourself into drinking more water. If you have regulars who are looking a little haggard, suggest an Iced Tea - they'll feel refreshed and better in no time!
  5. Use simple garnishes - Mango wedges, Lemon wedges and Mint leaves are all easy garnishes that will add lots to the look of your drinks.


Iced Coffee

Iced Coffee is very popular in many regions of the country. Most of our customers who offer Iced Coffee brew it just as they do hot coffee, and then they keep it Rubbermaid pitchers in the refrigerator. You'll want to adjust the strength of your brew to compensate for the ice that you're going to pour it over. We find that most coffee houses that serve a lot of Iced Coffee, also serve flavored coffees. I've been in some stores that have ten or more different flavors of Iced Coffee available. If most of your customers will sweeten their Iced Coffee anyway, you may be able to brew one Iced Coffee-something like a Columbian will work well, and then just flavor it with your flavored syrups. This will keep your Iced Coffee fresh, but you'll be able to offer a ton of flavors. Some very popular flavors are Hazelnut, Irish Cream and French Vanilla.

As many of you know, Barista Pro Shop is a huge proponent of using Toddy in your specialty coffee drinks - and of course it can be used for making Iced Coffee too! In this case, we think you should market your Iced Coffees as iced Americanos. (If you're in an area of the country where specialty coffee is not yet mainstream, you probably know that offering customers who want a regular coffee an Americano instead, is an effective way to convert them from drip coffee consumers to espresso based beverage consumers. This means they'll get fresher drinks and they'll get to know your espresso.)

For those of you who don't know what Toddy is, Toddy is a concentrated coffee that you brew with your coffee beans and cold water. We offer a commercial Toddy brewing system for you to brew it. This is guaranteed to be just about the simplest piece of equipment in your shop. You grind 5 lbs. of coffee coarsely (like for a French press) and put the coffee inside a paper filter. The filter then goes into a second filter made of nylon. You place the coffee and filters into the brewing container, add cold water and let it brew for 12 hours. When finished, you simply use the spigot to drain off your cold coffee concentrate-which we refer to as "Toddy". The Toddy can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The most effective way to describe to shop owners what Toddy is, is to suggest that you think of it as cold espresso. 1 oz. of Toddy has approximately the same flavor as 1 oz. of hot espresso. We think that a great drink to offer is an iced Americano with a litte "sugar in the raw" sprinkled on, topped with a straw. You can also offer to add a splash of cream. For in house dining, offer this drink in a nice glass with a short straw, and the customer will imagine they're enjoying a nice cocktail - it's a very nice presentation.


Iced Tea and Iced Coffee can be valuable tools in your marketing toolbox to get folks to come back to you for a second or third time daily. A hot Americano or Latte might not be appealing to a customer who is a little burned out around 2:00 pm, but an Iced drink may just be refreshing enough to help them through the rest of their afternoon. We hope this article has helped spur some thoughts on how you can develop or improve your iced drink program!

Log into your wholesale account to access our drink profit calculators to see just how profitable serving high quality Iced Tea and Iced Coffee to your customers can be for you!