P Pat Cotter

Piecewise Coffee Co. - Building a Drink Menu

Feb 13, 2019
Piecewise Coffee Co. - Building a Drink Menu

If you haven't been keeping up with our friends at Piecewise Coffee Co. be sure to check out their

Are you working with a specific roaster or seeking a wider range of roasts?

The bulk of our coffee offerings will come from a single roaster who is local to our city. This is in large parts to the quality and diversity of the beans they offer.

How did you settle on your roaster?

This was a big decision for us and a little intimidating at first. We started with several cold calls and email inquiries to regional and local roasters. Most were happy to answer questions we had and share about their range of products. Often they would send samples, and several allowed us to visit their roasteries. While the roaster’s bean quality was high on the list in making this choice, number one was having a relationship with the roasting company and knowing we could develop a good working relationship. You place a lot of trust into your roaster and knowing the people helped us feel settled in our choice. We are fortunate to have a great relationship with our roaster.

Are you looking to expand the menu in the future or specialize strongly in what you already have planned?

While we are open to making menu changes to meet our customer’s needs well, the plan is to stay within our current style of offerings or at least stay very near them.

How did you decide what you want to carry beyond coffee?

Great question! We’re still working on that lol. A great part about opening the shop is knowing that every decision doesn’t have to be made before opening. This is one of those items for us that is still developing. We knew we wanted the food selection to be classic foods with a gourmet bent that would elevate the shop’s experience, almost without noticing. We believe we’ve done that with the partnership we have. The rest of what we’ll offer is still in process!

How do you decide what to offer in terms of dairy and alternative milks?

We wanted some variety in the alternative milk options but stayed close to the types commonly found in most shops (soy, almond, etc.). We’re big fans of the current oak milk products due to the great taste and ability to steam them like milk.

One thing that always frustrated me when working in a coffee shop was general misconceptions about different coffee drinks from customers. Things like misunderstanding what a macchiato is, or not understanding the difference between a cappuccino and a latte, leading to customer complaints. Do you have any strategies for dealing with a customer that lacks coffee knowledge? How does that play into your drink menu?

We see this as such an opportunity to help our customers learn more about the products they love and how they vary. It’s not possible to expect each customer to “order correctly” when so many shops vary the recipes for the standard range of drinks. This is one flaw of the coffee industry that gets translated into the customer’s error. The goal is to serve each customer and have them know they’re being served. This includes covering ordering miscues and helping to ensure they get exactly what they hoped for when they came into the shop. With the drink menu, we anticipate having a few pictorial descriptions around the shop to assist with ordering and help prevent unnecessary waste.

Building some coffee drinks can be a challenge from a technique standpoint. How much does training and staff capabilities factor into building your menu?

We are working to build the training program and want to really break it down to a series of small skills that build on each other. The barista trainings by the SCA are fantastic and we plan to utilize them with our baristas. With a comprehensive training program and several quality control measures, we don’t anticipate having to restrict the menu.

Do you have any other recommendations for aspiring cafe owners on how to construct their menus?

Definitely get a subscription to a specialty coffee magazine or two. We’ve read about some fascinating and original drinks that may be inspiring. We'll be back soon with more from Stanton and Lindsey!

Link to share

Use this link to share this article