Why Successful Coffee Includes Tea

W h y S u c c e s s f u l C o f f e e I n c l u d e s T e a

For too long, a rivalry or sense of mutual exclusiveness has existed between coffee and tea. Many coffee shop operators have seen tea as an afterthought- a non-essential that distracted from their core business.

Fortunately that attitude is dying as many realize that the bedrock of their business is their ability to deliver the right beverage experience – regardless of whether that experience includes coffee, tea, or other great drinks.


It may not appear so at first glance, but tea is one of the pillars of successful on-premise coffee. There are several reasons:

1. More than half of Americans drink tea on a daily basis.
2. Millennials are as likely to order tea as coffee87% of Millennials drink tea. Millennials comprise 25% of the US population and 40% of the US workforce.
3. Tea often dominates certain dayparts to bring and keep customers beyond the morning hours.
4. Tea is a major component of the surging demand for iced drinks. 80% of tea consumed in the US is iced.


Major players like Starbucks and Dunkin have known this for years, and have used tea as a foundational product for their business.

* When sales volume at Starbucks slumped in Q2 2018, tea saw sustained growth.

* Dunkin has been expanding its premium tea offerings since 2018.
* Other major players, like Intelligentsia and Peet’s carry their own lines of premium tea.
* Starbucks even adopted customer-created hot tea beverages into their regular menu – Honey Citrus Mint tea (aka Medicine Ball tea).


1. Emphasize iced and premium teas. Beverages in general are the most profitable items on the cafe menu, and iced beverages are some of the most in-demand. Start with versatile, flavorful iced teas as a basis for specialty tea beverages.

2. Offer the right selection. You generally want fewer black teas (except perhaps chai) and more green, herbal, and other teas. Tea menus at coffee chains most often carry:

* Maximum of 2 mainstream black teas- e.g breakfast and/or Earl Grey
* 2-4 green teas, including matcha and flavored green (e.g. mint, ginger, peach, citrus, or jasmine)
* 40-60% of the tea menu will be herbal. Mint, hibiscus, and fruit flavored herbal teas offer a break from caffeine and can pull double duty as a base for specialty drinks and healthy beverage options for children
* 1-2 other kinds of tea, including white, oolong, or pu’er.

3. Offer MORE. As with coffee, customers expect the tea experience to be better than what they could do themselves at home. Premium teas, pyramid sachets, and customized experiences add the right touch. If knowing the origins of your coffees is important to your customers, highlight the origins of your teas as well. The same applies for messaging about sustainability and transparency of your tea.