coffee cocktail Briana Balducci
Making a latte, left, and the Three Hour Kyoto Negroni, right, at Kobrick Coffee Co. Cafe

Operators embrace coffee shop-cocktail bar hybrids

Craft coffee by day. Craft cocktails by night.

Defying the need to fit neatly into a traditional segment, a growing number of coffee shop concepts are adding cocktail bars.

These restaurants are seeing benefits by serving beverages during different dayparts and to different types of customers. And they’re tapping into patrons’ passion for the nuanced flavor profiles found in both coffee and cocktails.

Related: 5 coffee shops that are also full bars

While these operators might not get enough sleep, the dual revenue stream is helping them keep business brisk from day to night.

For Ryan McKenzie, who opened Patent Coffee and Patent Pending earlier this year in New York City, the dual-concept space was always the goal.

“Rent is so high, and this is our first rodeo,” McKenzie said. “So, we wanted to minimize our risk by having two revenue streams.” 

At Patent, the 1,200 square-foot space is split in two, with a slightly smaller coffee concept in front and 34-seat cocktail concept in the back. The coffee shop space closes before the cocktail bar opens for the night.

But many spaces combine the two concepts, like Nomads in Kansas City, Mo., which opened in October 2017.

Here the location ­— near a hospital — helps bring in customers with erratic schedules.

“We have overnight workers from the hospital that have drinks right alongside the morning coffee drinkers,” said Andrew Park, one of Nomads’ partners. “We have people drinking a cocktail and working on their computers or reading a book and next to them at the bar may be a group enjoying drinks or coffee.”

Although both coffee and cocktails flow during the evening hours at Nomads, Park does raise the music, turn down the lights and add candles to set a more intimate vibe. Nomads sells about the same amount of coffee drinks as cocktails, said Park.

Kobrick Coffee Co. Cafe in New York City also utilizes the same space for its coffee shop and bar but makes changes to set the evening tone. A curtain helps ensure that customers coming in for a latte to go don’t disturb customers sipping on cocktails. Many of the cocktails at Kobrick incorporate coffee and are made using coffee-making equipment.

Kobrick opened in 2015 before many of the other coffee shop-cocktail bar hybrids. Kobrick Coffee Co. is a nearly hundred-year-old coffee-roasting company, and co-owner Scott Kobrick said the family-owned business was looking for a “showcase” for their product.  

Adding cocktails to their coffee shop was a natural fit. Making both requires craft and skill after all, Kobrick said.

“We saw a lot of synergies with [coffee making] and cocktail making, a lot of even the same techniques, a lot of the same tools were used. A barista, which is obviously a coffee terminology, literally means bartender in Italian. In other parts of the world they’re not mutually exclusive, a bar will serve both coffee and cocktails and drinks.”

Andrew Trinh Photography

The Beneath the Pineapple Tree cocktail, left, and a latte, right, being made at Trust

Coffee and cocktails weren’t enough for Trust in St. Louis. This business could really be considered four concepts in one. The coffee shop, cocktail bar, co-working space and event space opened in early March and is a partnership between Covo, a co-working company, and Artisan Well, a group that has created beverage programs for bars around St. Louis. 

“We make a more intensive use of the space than if we were only a coffee shop or only a bar, which means a quicker ROI for the capital we put into building out Trust,” said Daniel Brian, the founder and chief operating officer of Trust and Covo. “It’s also a no-brainer for marketing. Many of our most loyal bar patrons started out as coffee shop users, and vice versa. We’re now the morning coffee spot and favorite happy hour location for several local office buildings.”

And drawing customers into Trust has helped build Covo’s membership, said Brian.

“Trust is also an essential feeder for Covo’s co-working space and its event space. Most co-working spaces, and many event spaces, don’t give you a reason to come inside. They only get membership through paid marketing or word-of-mouth. At Covo, a significant portion of our membership comes from people who came to enjoy Trust and learned about Covo while they were here.”

More established coffee shop brands are also considering cocktails.

Foxtail Coffee, which has two locations in Florida and two more on the way, recently added the Farmhouse, to their Winter Park, Fla., location, where the company is based.

The Farmhouse is an extension of their traditional coffee shop, which features coffee roasted on site, the world’s largest coffee siphon bar, and yes, cocktails. This location taps into another popular trend — cocktails on tap. 

Also, on the menu is a lineup of grab-and-go food offerings. “We call it craft convenience,” said Iain Yeakle, Foxtail Coffee’s co-founder. “But fundamentally, we are coffee first.”

According to Brian of Trust, cocktails are a smart addition to a coffee shop as they can help business grow faster. Currently a majority — about 75 percent — of Trust’s revenue comes from cocktails.

For one thing, the average bar ticket is a higher:  coffee drinks cost about $3 while cocktails can cost as much as $13 at Trust. 

But Brian has also found that consumers are habitual when it comes to coffee consumption.  

“The growth curve for coffee shops is much more gradual than it is for bars,” he said. “People are always looking to try a new bar. But people get into a morning routine with where they get their coffee, and it takes a while to convince them that they want to get it from us.”

Contact Gloria Dawson at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @gloriadawson 

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