6 Alternative Drinks to Serve in Your Coffee Shop

Alternatives, alternatives, alternatives. Americans increasingly expect alternatives to everything, everywhere they go. To meet this demand, you’ll want to make sure your shop is stocked with coffee and tea alternatives. Here are a few can’t-miss items.


Chai is a fulfilling, invigorating blend of black tea, milk, spices, and sweetener. It is a drink of warm comfort on snowy nights and, when iced, the perfect refreshment on a hot summer afternoon. Chai has a heritage of several centuries rooted in India. Some coffee shops have created their own blends, but there are numerous distributors that will provide you with chai concentrate. Simply mix with milk and voila! You have a sweet alternative to coffee and tea that still packs some caffeine whammy.

Hot Chocolate

For the non-coffee, non-tea crowd, add hot chocolate to your menu. As with espresso-based drinks, you can get create interesting drinks with hot chocolate and syrup flavors.


Steamed milk served with a choice of syrup flavor.

Smoothies and Granitas

Smoothies and granitas are wonderful hot-drink alternatives to serve in summer.

You may want to consider offering smoothies on your menu, particularly if you live in a health-conscious region. Some smoothie and granita distributors will provide the blenders if you buy their mixes. You may wish to take this into account as you evaluate distributors. The other option is to make your own, opening yet another opportunity for a signature drink.

Bottled Drinks

There are hundreds of options available for bottled drinks. These run the course from major companies to gourmet sodas. You’ll want to offer at least some selection in terms of pop, juice and bottled water, especially if you offer a breakfast or lunch menu, or if your place will be frequented by parents with kids.


Not everyone can or chooses to drink milk. To make sure you still retain the patronage of this market, you need to have soymilk on hand as an alternative. You may also consider stocking lactose-free milk for those who can’t drink milk but don’t like the flavor of soy. Soy does behave differently from milk when it comes to steaming and making drinks. You’ll need to experiment with it, and make sure your customers know that their soy-based cappuccino may not have the same kind of cap as a milk-based cappuccino.

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