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Espresso & Coffee Martinis

Espresso & Coffee Martinis
Profitable Buzz Behind the Bar

By Susan Zimmer, Bestselling Author of:

"I LOVE COFFEE! Over 100 Easy and Delicious Coffee Drinks" (2007) 


During the 1990s, we all watched with fascination as the

conservative cup of coffee evolved into the espresso

era and cappuccino years. Many thought this

espresso explosion was a trend. Clearly, we have

realized these specialty coffee drinks now

have become a new lifestyle within society.



          Now - shaken, stirred, studded with coffee beans and sweating caffeine —

Espresso and Coffee Martinis quickly are becoming the new champion of cocktails

in lounges, clubs, bars and restaurants across America, especially as the fall

season progresses. Espresso/Coffee Martinis are the Martini drinks of the moment.

Just when we thought cappuccinos, cocktails, mocktails, mochaccinos and Martinis couldn’t get sexier and sassier, the world’s stage is raising the curtain to this new breed of beverages. In an aggressive and rapidly changing world of the bar, trends rise and emerge unto universal consciousness. Observe.




    During the 1990s, we all watched with fascination as the conservative cup of coffee evolved into the espresso era and cappuccino years. Many thought this espresso explosion was a trend. Clearly, we have realized these specialty coffee drinks now have become a new lifestyle within society.

Similarly, the traditional Martini has evolved from the Great Depression through the debonair Rat Pack era to the “Sex and the City” popularity. As with specialty coffees, Martinis have become a permanent classic beverage around the world. This American-invented Martini today is being raised, held, admired and reinvented with shots of caffeine. Coffee Martini recipes are stirring up the imaginations of consumers

and bartenders alike. Iced, shaken, straight up or on the rocks, the Martini, as we knew it, will never be the same.

    No question, a Martini is a Martini because of the glass in which it’s served, but bottom-line profit is about what the consumer wants in this classic glass — this glass in which much of the Martini charm seems to lie. Customers look so sleek and sophisticated as they lean into it and lap it up. Mixtures of caffeine, creams, alcohol,

liqueurs and syrups served in a sleek and sophisticated Martini glass are shaking up social sipping scenes everywhere. This Espresso and Coffee Martini recipe revival is shocking everyone.

    Today’s ever-evolving Martini can be many things — Chocolate, Cranberry, Strawberry, and yes, even Green Apple Martinis. Of all the Martini recipes imaginable, the ones that make more “cents” than others are the Espresso

and Coffee Martinis. Here’s why. One shot of quality espresso coffee can be as profitable as a shot of liquor. One doesn’t have to be a bean counter to quickly realize that selling blended shots of espresso coffee with liquor and liqueurs in a Martini glass will generate incremental profits to an operation’s bottom line.




    There also are as many ways to pour a Coffee Martini as there are liquors. As they would probably say in Seattle, there can be as many coffee-themed Martinis as Starbucks has bean blends. No beans about it, coffee martinis are not just a double buzz on the body, but more importantly they impart a profitable buzz

on the bottom line of an owner’s beverage program.

    Offering delicious espresso/coffee based-martinis to customers generates increased total dollar sales, gratuities and repeat business when properly presented. Educate and inform servers that espresso coffee has less caffeine than regular coffee, and that it also makes for a great liquid Martini dessert!

    A Tiramisu Martini‚ for example, one of the 111 coffee-based recipes offered in the best-seller “I Love Coffee!” recipe/guidebook, is made by blending vanilla ice cream, tiramisu syrup, cold espresso coffee and Amaretto liqueur to a velvet smoothie and serving it in a refreshed cocoa-rimmed martini glass.

    Another sensational sippable — a Spiked Frappuccino — is made from a slushy blend of intense coffee, Kahlúa and crème de cacao and is served in a marvelous chocolate- rimmed Martini glass topped with whipped cream and studded with two or three coffee beans. Intoxicating, addictive and perfectly legal, this decadent

drink will have your customers begging for more while witnessing customers will be impressed by these new Coffee Martini presentations.

Tasty, unique and creative coffee



    With customers becoming more educated about coffee, these rich and tasty beverages are positioned to deliver big profits to your operation, but also affordable commercial espresso coffee pod machines are available to produce perfect and consistent shots of espresso coffee behind the bar. Equipment such as the Lavazza Espresso Point pod system and Illy Café’s Francis Francis machines can assist in making your coffee Martini menu program possible. Not only do these machines make it easy to operate, they also offer cost and waste control. Last but not least, setting up a well-promoted, high-end Coffee Martini menu, delivered by educated and energetic employees will generate top-dollar profits.

    A pioneer in serving Coffee Martinis is P.F. Chang’s China Bistro chain of restaurants. Due to customer demands, they have long recognized that more creative beverage programs needed to be implemented. Coffee-based Martinis have been pouring profits for P.F. Chang’s chain of restaurants since 1997, and they continue to be one of their best-selling beverages. “Fact is,” explains Mike Katzman, P.F. Chang’s Nevada market partner, “customers imbibe this popular Coffee Martini breed of beverages. It attracts all walks of people. Over the past 11 years, our beverage menu exposure has quadrupled, resulting in exponential profits.” Martini menus have become such a strong and profitable product category that they appear to be muscling

in on the extensive wine list. Within some on-premise operations, as is the case with P.F. Chang’s, the Martini menu has become part of the main menu by offering dessert Martinis to patrons.

    In pursuit of their perfect signature sippable, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro’s corporate office formed a taste-testing panel in 2004, with more than 1,000 companies participating, of which 20 beverage recipe finalists were chosen. The No. 1 winner that best represented P.F. Chang’s by theme was crowned The Orient

Express Martini. Interestingly enough, this 2005 Restaurant & Bar Award-winning Martini is a coffeebased Martini with splashes of vanilla vodka and Monin syrups.




    The role of the barman as a barista (Italian word for barman) is quickly becoming an international definition. Alcohol is a standard staple at most espresso coffee bars throughout Europe, and it only is a matter of time before North America joins in. Currently, many American lounges are not governed by liquor law restrictions

and therefore are able to capitalize from this new, profitable and popular beverage product category.

    Now, as coffee shops try to become upscale coffee pubs and Martini cafes, bar-goers becoming more selective with the coffee that is served and more espresso machines brewing behind all foodservice bars, the next inevitable phase

of this coffee evolution is to embrace the buzz of blending brewed espresso coffee with alcohol and syrups behind the bar.

          Espresso and Coffee Martinis are an idea whose time has come. Today’s trend is turning into tomorrow’s tradition.

    Offering Espresso and Coffee Martinis is a real opportunity for all on-premise operations to capture new revenue at this newage beverage beginning.




Copyright © 2007, Susan Zimmer/I Love Coffee! book. All Rights Reserved.


            - Susan Zimmer is the bestselling  author of “I LOVE COFFEE! Over 100 Easy & Delicious Coffee Drinks” (2007/Andrews McMeel Publishing)

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