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For many people, cafes are more than places to eat — they’re also functional spaces. Diners drop in to study with friends over iced coffee, sip a hot tea while reading a book, or meet with colleagues over lunch. While many customers come for the caffeine, a tempting food menu can encourage them to stick around for a meal.
When you’re looking for ways to boost your cafe’s profitability, a menu upgrade is a great place to start. With the right cafe menu ideas and an appealing design, you can increase average order values and attract a wider range of customers.
5 cafe menu ideas
Cafe menus don’t have to be large or extensive; since most customers come in for coffee, they don’t expect a restaurant-sized list of food items. Instead, aim for a carefully curated list of delicious, satisfying foods.
1. Choose a specific cuisine
An unfocused menu can be confusing for customers; instead, orient your cafe menu around a specific cuisine or style of food. A clear concept sets clear expectations for customers and makes it easier to brand your cafe.
Ideas for a focused cafe menu include:
- Bakery items that are made in-house or locally sourced
- Mediterranean salads and sandwiches
- Comfort foods such as mashed potatoes or grilled cheese and tomato soup
- Macaroni and cheese with varied toppings
- Light snacks, such as avocado toast on multigrain bread, chips and salsa, or cheese boards
2. Feature local, fresh ingredients
If customers use your cafe as a gathering space, enhance the community-oriented vibe by using local ingredients. You’ll support other business owners, strengthen your ties to the local economy, and build goodwill among diners. Since locally sourced food is grown in your backyard (figuratively speaking), it’s often more delicious and flavorful than items that are transported in from around the world.
There’s no need to overhaul your entire coffee shop menu — simply switch out your current ingredients for locally sourced items. Consider rotating ingredients to feature the fruits and vegetables that are currently in season. Your food will taste fresher, and the variety will keep regulars coming back for more.
Need ideas for cafe menu items that feature local ingredients? Try these dishes:
- Sandwiches with bread from a local bakery
- Grilled chicken salad with locally grown lettuce and seasonal fresh vegetables
- Quesadillas with local meat, black beans, and sour cream
- Caprese salad with fresh basil grown in your restaurant’s herb garden
3. Serve breakfast all day
Breakfast is one of the most comforting and satisfying meals of the day. Help your customers enjoy it any time by creating an all-day breakfast menu.
Menu items to consider include:
- French toast with powdered sugar
- Omelets with pepper jack cheese, red onion, and mushrooms
- Pancakes and sausage
- Scrambled eggs and fried potatoes with onion and garlic
- Breakfast sandwiches with eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese, and avocado
- Sesame seed bagels with cream cheese
- Potato hash with tomatoes, feta cheese, and spinach
4. Go heavy on the treats
Do your customers like to linger with a book or a laptop in the mid-morning or afternoon? They might not be in the mood for a full meal or a fresh salad, but you can encourage them to snack by offering a selection of pastries and baked goods that pair well with coffee.
Choose treats that match the vibe of your cafe. If it’s relaxed and homey, you might opt for hearty homemade cookies or fresh banana bread. In an upscale environment, consider options such as macarons or croissants.
Use these delicious sweets as inspiration:
- Cranberry-nut muffins
- Brownies with German chocolate frosting
- Chocolate cake
- Cherry, peach, or apple cobbler
- Cupcakes with generous frosting
- Filled donuts
- Lemon tarts
- Almond croissants
Don’t be afraid to experiment or rotate your menu — customers will love discovering the treats of the day.
5. Get creative with your coffee menu
Coffee is the foundation of any great cafe menu. If it’s been a while since you updated your drink selection, now’s the perfect time. Try adding a few creative drinks and seasonal specials to tempt customers, including:
- Cinnamon roll cappuccino
- Matcha latte
- Nitro cold brew
- Vietnamese coffee
- Irish coffee
Keep in mind that many people have dietary restrictions, particularly when it comes to milk. Add a variety of plant-based milks to your coffee shop menu to ensure everyone can partake.
How to organize your cafe menu
Once you choose items for your cafe or coffee shop menu, it’s time to think about menu design. The best menus are clean and uncluttered; they enable customers to discover new foods that suit their tastes. Organization matters, too — an orderly layout allows you to draw attention to the most profitable and popular entrees, coffee drinks, and desserts. A strategic design benefits your customers and your bottom line.
As you create the menu, keep these tips in mind:
- Separate foods into categories for easy scanning
- Put high-profit items at the top of each category
- Use graphics or lines to highlight new or popular dishes
Not sure which dishes have the highest margins? Use menu engineering to calculate your food costs and set prices in a way that pleases customers and maximizes profits. This process can also help you analyze sales data to determine which menu items drive the most revenue.
Rolling out your new menu
With Direct, it’s a breeze to get your new cafe menu in front of customers. Upload it to your Direct website — in a matter of minutes, diners will be able to browse your menu online and order delivery.If you don’t have a Direct site through Grubhub, it’s easy to get started. This service enables you to build an online ordering website for your cafe. You can link to it or integrate it into your main website so customers can complete online orders with a few clicks. To start driving orders to your improved cafe menu with Direct, get signed up today.