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Iced Coffee Heats Up Sales

Iced coffee can give your coffee program a boost of excitement, with operators reporting 75% of coffee sales from cold formats. Use this guide to do the same.

Coffee consumption is on an evolutionary tear, a foodservice trend that finds traditional hot coffee sales joined and jolted by one of the coolest things to hit the category. Iced coffee drinks of all kinds—poured, shaken, or stirred over ice, or blended into frothy mixes—are driving growth in the all-important arena, with some chains seeing iced drinks accounting for up to 75% of sales. Here’s an operational crash course in how to bump up iced-coffee sales and benefit from their favorable food-cost margins.

Brew Mastery

In theory, iced coffee can be as simple as adding ice to house brew. Practically speaking, though, other factors weigh in. Hot coffee melts ice instantly, diluting the beverage and then requiring more ice to bring it to proper temperature. Easy workarounds:

  • Use shots of espresso for the hot coffee and dilute with cold water, as for Americano coffee. The smaller volume of hot liquid calls for less ice, resulting in less dilution
  • Cold brew coffee is ideal to use as the base, benefitting from the practical aspects as well as the current cachet of cold brew. Use of cold brew should be spotlighted on menus to heighten the allure
  • Brewed coffee can quickly be chilled down. As with hot brewed coffee, its flavor changes over time, making this most ideally suited to high-volume settings
  • Depending on volume, instant coffee is an easy and entirely viable option for iced drinks
  • As freezer capacity allows, unused brewed coffee can be frozen into cubes that then are used for iced coffee drinks

Ice Flows

Iced coffee means ice, lots of it, making efficient, high-output, well-maintained ice makers essential to the program. Cube, block, or crescent shapes are among the most versatile for all-around service, well-suited for standard iced beverages, iced coffee, and blended iced drinks. Shaved ice, nuggets, and small cubes melt too quickly to be practical in most settings.

The Blend Side

Slushy drinks require the superpowers of a high-efficiency blender, one that turns liquids and ice into amalgamated froth. With motors of up to 2,000 watts or more, they’re quick, thorough, and typically pretty loud; sound shields that lessen the noise are a great solution. One unit is adequate for many operations although high-traffic operations may require as many as four or more.

Liquid Assets

From brewed coffee to lattes, macchiato, and cappuccino, most coffeehouse menu standards can be served hot or iced. A good part of the growth surge sees more elaborate concoctions gaining traction, with flavored syrups, powders, and coffee creamers whipped into a frenzy of frothy deliciousness. Powdered mixes are foundational for many with liquid syrups and flavored coffee whiteners blended with coffee and ice. Interest in plant-forward alt milks is strong so it makes sense to keep at least one on hand. Choices included soy, almond, coconut, hemp, macadamia, and cashew.

Cold in Winter

Preferences change with the season. Here are some to grab now, before spring arrives

  • Cold brew, chocolate syrup, and milk
  • Latte frappe blended with coffee, syrup choice, and flavored creamer
  • Cold brew coffee, protein powder, peanut butter, banana, and almond milk
  • Dirty chai made with cold brew, spiced chai, and milk shaken over ice
  • Pumpkin cream cold brew
  • Steamed milk mixed with turmeric and poured over espresso coffee on ice
  • Pandan latte of pandan paste mixed with milk, poured over ice, topped with Vietnamese coffee
  • Brown sugar cream cold brew over ice
  • Iced espresso coffee with rose syrup, cardamom syrup, and cream


The information provided is based on a general industry overview and is not specific to your business operation. Each business is unique, and decisions related to your business should be made after consultation with appropriate experts.

Iced coffee in mason jar

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