4 ways to make coffee smokin' hot

By 
Lizzy Freier, Technomic Menu Analysis Managing Editor

coffee cup beans

Charred foods have been gaining steam in recent years, and now, the influence is spreading to coffee. Operators are exploring smoky, toasted and burnt flavors, but because coffee naturally tastes roasted, they're focusing efforts on getting consumers to embrace the additional smoke. Here are four techniques being used when adding smoke to coffee.

1. Balance smoky with sweet

au bon pain toasted honey latte

Some operators are using sweet flavors to offset smoky flavors in their lattes. Au Bon Pain, for example, is spotlighting toasted honey. The chain’s winter Toasted Honey Latte features espresso blended with honey and toasted marshmallow syrup, topped with frothed milk. It’s available hot or iced. The item will be offered through March 27. Other sweet-smoky coffee combos include Toasted Coconut Cappuccino at convenience-store chain Thorntons, Toasted Marshmallow Coffee at The Bagel Cafe in Las Vegas, and Toasted Graham Latte at numerous Disney park concessions, including Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

2. Use natural smoke flavor

starbucks smoked butterscotch latte

Starbucks’ recently returned Smoked Butterscotch Latte also falls into the trend of smoky-sweet balanced coffees. In the drink, natural smoke flavor is used in the smoked butterscotch sauce and smoked butterscotch sugar topping. The drink also features espresso and steamed milk. A tall 12-ounce latte costs between $4.25 and $4.45 depending on location. It’s available while supplies last.

3. Spotlight a favorite ingredient

dunn bros bacon coffee

Some ingredients will be embraced in all mealparts, no matter how off-the-wall they may seem. Bacon is one of those ingredients, now showing up in coffee. Dunn Bros Coffee’s holiday Smoky Spiced Nirvana features steamed cold press coffee, half and half, an infusion of hickory smoke and spiced brown sugar syrup, topped with a skewer of candied bacon.

4. Reinvent a classic

regent coffee cappuccino marshmallows

Some operators are reinventing classic beverages with new ingredients. Regent Coffee in San Gabriel, Calif., for example, is spotlighting a twist on the classic hot chocolate with marshmallows. The coffee bar offers cappuccino either by itself for $3.50 or with burned marshmallow for 50 cents extra. The burned marshmallow is also available in hot chocolate.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of New Mexico’s proposed on-campus taproom has officially been approved by the school’s Board of Regents.

Construction on the $650,000 student union taproom will begin this summer and is expected to finish in August when students return to campus. The school’s food vendor, Chartwells, and UNM’s Dining & Food Services department will split the cost of the taproom evenly.

Designed by students in the school’s architecture department, the space will feature a rotating selection of beer and wine, and will also welcome guest brewers. Chartwells will be...

Ideas and Innovation
cafeteria

Three years ago, Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., started a pilot supper program at its high school. The goal: To make sure the district’s students, 57% of whom are on free or reduced-priced meals, would not be hungry when school is done for the day.

Since its inception, the program has expanded to 12 schools and now provides afterschool meals to children participating in YMCA activities. And it's just one of many such programs popping up in districts throughout the country, as operators add supper to the list of daily meals they provide for students.

Building...
Ideas and Innovation
hydroponics

We put our hydroponic gardens in a spot where students can watch them grow, but at the same time it’s safe from being tampered with. At one of our elementary schools, the gardens are in the kitchen, but there’s a window where students can look in as they walk down the hallway. Some even stop to count how many cucumbers they see.

Ideas and Innovation
food snap

We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

FSD Resources