Syrup can be tricky. On one hand, you want to serve customers memorable, delicious drinks that bring them back again and again. On the other hand, you want your drinks to be profitable -- and that means keeping ingredient costs, including syrup, under a reasonable threshold.
While balancing cost and quality is a perennial coffee shop problem, every cafe owner can cut syrup costs by applying precision management techniques to their purchase and use. Wondering how? Here are three practical strategies.
Use Pumps to Forecast Your Inventory Needs
For busy cafe owners, restocking syrup often happens by feel -- when you see you’re low on vanilla syrup or when you feel a chill in the air and realize you need pumpkin spice syrup STAT.
The problem with this inventory management method is simple -- it’s not very precise. And you can pay for that lack of precision in additional shipping costs, excess purchases or moments of panic when you run out of a key product.
Forecasting your syrup usage by pumps instead of bottles is a more accurate system that lets you cut down on costs incurred by overstocking and understocking. Here’s how it works.
Let’s say you serve a popular caramel apple latte every fall. You know each latte requires one 0.5 oz pump of cinnamon syrup and one 0.5 oz pump of apple, and you sold 1000 caramel apple lattes last fall. That means you’ll need 1000 fluid oz of syrup to match the sales you have last year -- assuming you’re purchasing standard 750ml bottles of syrup, that means you’ll need 20 bottles each of cinnamon and apple syrup to be in good shape for this year.
Once you begin measuring your syrup usage in pumps instead of bottles, you’ll be able to monitor your use more precisely and edit your purchase patterns to cut down on wasted product, emergency purchase markups and extra shipping costs.
Use the Right Syrup for Your Shop
Here’s something we really believe: there is no one best syrup brand. There’s only the best syrup brand for you and your business.
For cafes looking for artisan syrups that balance pure, intense flavors with a lower cost per serving, we recommend Routin 1883. This syrup line is imported from France and, though its price point per bottle is higher than its competitors’, it’s also more concentrated and requires less syrup use per drink. Its purity of flavor and economy-per-pump makes it a popular choice for cafes that serve premium specialty drinks.
For cafes looking for a syrup brand that’s widely recognized in the United States, we recommend Monin: its familiarity instills confidence in customers and it offers pure, intense flavors comparable to Routin’s.
For cafes that specialize in drinks with unusual flavors, use flavoring syrups across multiple applications, or serve a clientele that prefers intense, simple sweetness, we recommend DaVinci. Its wide selection of flavors gives you all the options you'll need for speciality coffee beverages and almost any other application.
No syrup line is right for every cafe. Finding the syrup that serves your needs best requires product knowledge and some thought, but choosing the right brand lets you make decisions that balance budget sense with great-tasting specialty drinks.
Train Baristas for Standardization
When you understand how many drinks you should be getting from each bottle of syrup, you can measure the reality of your shop’s performance against that standard.
If you analyze drink sales and discover there’s a discrepancy between your average sales and your forecasted syrup use, consider your training process.
Does each of your baristas measure syrup the same way? Have each of them been explicitly trained to measure syrup the same way? Do they understand the reasoning behind the process? A barista who understands the “why” behind a directive is far more likely to embrace it.
Training with an explicit goal of standardizing your process allows you to cut down on waste -- and helps your baristas help you by allowing them to understand and engage with your business goals.
Smart Management for Syrup (and Everything Else)
Ingredient costs, including syrup, will always make up a large portion of operating expenses for your cafe. But making small adjustments to your management process and developing your product knowledge can reduce waste and increase your profit margins as you grow.
Are you looking for help as you build your business? We might be the connection you’re looking for! We’ve provided coffee shops with specialty beverage products and industry guidance for over twenty years. Our long history informs our deep product knowledge and expertise in coffee shop development and management. Your success and growth is important to us, and we’re committed to providing you with the guidance you need to optimize your coffee shop.