Why offer coffee drinks in your café


Coffee and alcohol have been drunk for centuries, but the pairing of the two to create cocktails is relatively recent. The famous Irish Coffee was supposedly invented in the 1940s, the White Bear, the drink made famous by the movie The Big Lebowski in the 1960s, and theEspresso Martini in the 1980s. All three of these cocktails are still popular and are featured in Drinks International's 2019 list of the world's best-selling cocktails.

According to David Jameson (Good Spirits Champion winner in 2014 and 2016), the first coffee cocktails were usually basic and dominated by the strong and bitter taste of coffee. Times have changed since then, and the advent of choice coffee and third wave cafes has meant that modern coffee cocktails have become far more refined than their traditional predecessors.


Thecreation of the Good Spirits Championships (CIGS) is testament to the coffee industry's appreciation of coffee cocktails. This annual event has been held since 2011, with CIGS national championship competitors competing for the world title. Participation requires contestants to prepare Irish coffee and hot or cold coffee cocktails, which are thenjudged by based on their flavors, creativity and overall impression.

Competing in CIGS requires a thorough knowledge and understanding of what characteristics different coffees bring and which other ingredients (and alcohols) they pair well with.

One winning contestant created his version of an Irish coffee by combining a naturally-processed Pacamara coffee from Nicaragua, prepared at Clever Dripper, with three whiskeys, Caribbean light muscat syrup, coconut palm syrup and double cream of tartar. As a result, the drink had vanilla and butter flavours, followed by tropical notes of caramelised mango and pineapple, dried banana and spiced with dark rum.

Combining coffee and alcohol at any level requires an understanding of the unique characteristics of coffee but also alcohol.

Dan Good Spirits Championships competitor Dan says, "I always try to use coffee creatively. It can also be used as a secondary ingredient that brings complexity and depth to a cocktail. Because coffee can have such a wide range of flavors depending on so many variables (origin, processing, variety, roast level, preparation method, recipe, etc.). It is therefore extremely important to carefully combine your chosen coffee with alcohol.


While the coffee industry is recognizing coffee cocktails at the CIGS championship competition, the market has begun to see a demand for RTD coffee and alcohol combinations - many of which include trendy nitro coffee drinks. These are drinks that are filled with nitrogen.

What is an RTD drink? From the English translation of ready to drink, which means a ready-to-drink beverage that is already prepared for consumption.

According to global marketing research company Nielsen, sales of RTD coffee cocktails have increased dramatically since 2018. This is due to customer demand for convenience, versatility and affordable pricing.

Several alcohol brands are joining the coffee liqueur market. Tia Maria, Kahlua, Baileys, Jagermeister and Skyy Vodka Infusions.


Incorporating coffee cocktails into your café's current offerings can help you secure new customers. This connects your coffee shop to the bar and can extend your opening hours into the night.

Since demand for coffee is highest in the morning and gradually decreases during the day, offering it in the evening in the form of coffee drinks could increase consumption.


Coffee cocktails should appeal to your customers so that they are eager to try them. It's important to think about the type of coffee you use in the drink and then the type of alcohol you choose. It's a good idea to offer non-alcoholic coffee drinks as well, so that there is something for everyone.

Good Spirits Championships winner Dan recommends pairing medium roast coffee, processed using the natural method, and dark aged rum to achieve a high intensity of flavour.

Care should be taken with alcohol as it can behave unpredictably in different combinations or at different temperatures. Balancing coffee in a cocktail with alcohol is challenging because alcohol has a strong flavor.

Above all, you will have to rely on your sense of taste and what you expect the end result to be. Also think about how many ingredients you use and if you will use the ingredients in other drinks.

If creating new cocktails doesn't appeal to you, by offering Irish coffee, white bear and espresso martinis, you definitely won't go wrong.


Creating the perfect coffee cocktail may seem complicated, but it certainly has a lot of potential to help your café catch the attention of new customers.