Seasonal Coffee Drinks Done Right ”Humpday Giveaway Preview!

We’re hosting a very special Humpday Giveaway event this week on our blog to celebrate the delicious seasonal coffee drinks your cafe can make ”and make money from

There’s been a lot of discussion in specialty-coffee circles in the last year or two about giving the customer what she wants ”whether she asks for a skinny latte, a single-origin ristretto, an Americano with a pump of vanilla, an AeroPress of the guest roaster, or the most delicious mocha you can make. The best cafe owners know that quality service ”and that includes making and serving quality beverages ”are what the business is all about.

We had a lot of fun with our friends at DaVinci Gourmet putting together this special fall and winter holiday themed Humpday Giveaway, wherein participants can enter to win more than $100 worth  of tasty add-ins that will make your customers’ holiday coffee dreams come true. We’ll launch the contest on tomorrow (Wednesday, September 16) at 7 a.m. PDT with a trivia question, and will announce our winner on Friday at 10 a.m.

Before we have the contest live though, we were excited to talk with DaVinci Gourmet’s beverage specialist, Levi Andersen, about how he likes to craft special holiday coffee drinks. After all, Levi should know as well as any of our readers, as he has been a successful cafe owner himself. Protecting the integrity of beautiful coffees while building drinks that meet customers’ holiday cravings is one of the reasons Levi is so good at what he does. Check out what advice he has to share with retailers approaching this special time of year:

Barista Mag:  Sometimes third-wave shops shy away from seasonal drinks because they think the syrup flavor will cloud the coffee flavor. What are tips you have for making coffee shine along with the added flavors?

Levi Andersen: People tend to buy seasonally. Think about iced latte and cold-brew sales, and how they decline in the winter. It’s just a thing, right?

But instead of making it just a thing, why don’t more cafes take advantage of this and go all out! One company that did something interesting was Stone Creek Coffee in Milwaukee, Wis. I like how they took the attitude of, How do we leverage the season and do something intentionally awesome?  Rather than just going with the flow and showing a picture of their new latte that has pumpkin, they did a little peek behind the curtain. As I am writing this, they literally just revealed the drink today. See more here.  They’re the same company that did pie pairings last year, meaning, they profiled their coffees and told you which Thanksgiving Pie you should serve with each coffee ”so cool!

Seasonal Coffee Drinks Done Right ”Humpday Giveaway Preview!
Your customers will flip for this Country Pumpkin Latte. Get the recipe here!

As the air chills outside, people start bundling up and put on a more generous spirit to splurge on themselves and others. Why would you not give someone the opportunity to buy more wonderful things from you?

Just because you don’t want to do it doesn’t mean it needs to be poor quality or boring. Let me tell you a story from 2013 when I tried two different pumpkin lattes from two different spots. The first spot got it and made an awesome spiced caramel pumpkin latte ”it was sweet but with heavy spices. Balanced in flavor, a real treat. The second shop did an orange pumpkin latte which to me sounded so fun. But when I tried a sip, it was thin bodied, like a skim latte, and the citrus from the orange (or maybe espresso, as well) with milk did not work. Dairy and citrus don’t always work, beware!

Seasonal Coffee Drinks Done Right ”Humpday Giveaway Preview!
You’re not dreaming — that’s a Gingerbread Cookie Mocha right there, and it’s easy to make! Get the recipe here.

Speaking as a former coffee stand owner, I can tell you there is always a challenge to meet when you run a business or a team of baristas, isn’t there? It gets tough, I get it. But consider meeting the  challenge with an optimistic question of œHow can I turn this into a fun game for my whole team to learn from?  You may be inspired to turn seasonal beverages into a little game of œWho can create the best recipe  on a Friday night. Go out and buy some wonderful ingredients, put on some holiday music, bake some sugar cookies, and see what the team comes up with!

Boy, talking about all of this takes me back to the winter I discovered egg nog. I was sooooo into egg nog. Egg nog is like old-school New World chai, having similar spices. Pretty cool when you think about it that way. Also, I have to say: œChai-Nog.  Think about it, real chai, added to egg nog, maybe espresso, get back to me after you try it.

Barista Mag:  How can serving seasonal drinks boost a cafe’s bottom line at holiday time?

Levi:  Obviously a seasonal drink can be sold for more than just a latte, that makes sense. From what I have seen out in the market, the cafes that execute seasonal drinks the best are the ones who get it when it comes to promoting online. I’m talking more than just a picture on Instagram though. I love walking into cafes that have seasonal décor to back up their awesome drinks. I’m talking more than just a different soundtrack in the background, or a bow on the tip jar. But really going all out and stenciling snowflakes on the windows, cutting up paper filters into snowflakes and hanging them inside the café. If you want to build the bottom line, consider getting your staff excited about the drinks you’re offering. Sometimes that can be done by having a holiday-party where you redecorate your space.

Seasonal Coffee Drinks Done Right ”Humpday Giveaway Preview!
We want to put this Eggnog Milkshake in our belly right now! Go here for the recipe.

If I take a stroll down memory-lane, I can think of a time when I used to pull shots of Caffe D’Arte Capri Blend (thanks Sarah Dooley for the training WAY back in the day), out in the shadow of Mt Rainier, and we counted down the days to Christmas with a different seasonal beverage. That was fun, and it kept people curious to come back (again and again) and hear what the next drink was. I’m trying to remember if anyone tried all 24 or 25 but I can’t actually remember.  

One of my favorite seasonal drinks to make for other people is to just add cinnamon powder on top of the espresso when making someone’s already favorite latte. So many flavors work well with cinnamon powder. My recent favorite is a cinnamon and hazelnut latte. We actually were showing it at trade shows and people were excited about it. So simple, very affordable, and special.

Dear fellow barista or café manager/owner, or just coffee lover: I hope you’ve seen that there is so much you can do to have both fun and profits when making seasonal drinks.

Thank, Levi! And thanks to the team at DaVinci Gourmet, who is donating more than $100 worth of tasty treats to help our winner craft some of the best seasonal drinks around this fall and winter. Be sure to come back on Wednesday to play Humpday Giveaway for your chance to win!


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Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.