Cold Brew or Espresso? Which Program is Better for your Restaurant

Posted by Payton DeMaster on Oct 21, 2019 1:40:00 PM

It may seem like both a cold brew program and an espresso program are needed in your restaurant to meet customer demands and keep up with trends, however these programs can become costly and time-consuming. Choosing one and being excellent at it is way better than choosing both and just being adequate. The question is which one do you choose?

When comparing cold brew and espresso programs, I looked at four main components: cost, equipment, training, and sophistication. While both these coffee programs are great options, I found that launching a cold brew program in your restaurant is not only less expensive and less time-consuming, but also just as sophisticated as an espresso program. So, let's take a deeper look...


Cost and Equipment

To initiate a cold brew program in your business, very minimum equipment is needed. The only equipment you need is a cold brew system (much like our Cold Brew 'N' Serv™ System). Most cold brew systems don't require any electricity or water filtration systems, which eliminates any potential mechanical costs. There is an additional cost if you're looking to serve Nitro Cold Brew, as this requires a tap system. Although if you're already serving tap beer in your restaurant this process is very easy to setup.

Launching an espresso program requires much more equipment. Basic and essential equipment includes an espresso machine, portafilter, coffee grinder, stamper, frothing pitchers, and other miscellaneous cleaning and espresso supplies. Espresso systems will need to be setup with a certified filteration system, or direct water line. This program will probably incur more installation setup fees and technical and mechanical help.

Consensus: Cold brew requires far less equipment, electricity, and installation fees than an espresso program.



No matter what program you choose to launch in your restaurant, each will require training for your employees. Depending on the training needed, there may be additional costs and time spent for the supervisor and trainees.

Cold brew is relatively easy to learn–for anyone! Watch this quick video on how we use our cold brew system to make cold brew. From experience, we expect it to take 5-10 minutes to prepare the cold brew, and then 12-24 hours to let it brew, which can take place overnight without supervision. Overall, the whole process should take a hands on time of 15 minutes for 2.5 gallons of cold brew concentrate.

As for an espresso system, training can be quite extensive. Many restaurants will reach out to a roaster to provide training on the equipment which could take up a full work day. Along with this, since there are multiple espresso related drinks, there may be a learning curve that takes time understanding each drink. Lastly, there are now higher expectations with espresso drinks such as latte art, rainbow art, and even glitter coffee which consists of a greater level of training.

Consensus: Launching a cold brew program requires limited training, where an espresso program will require an "expert" to come in, costing you time and money.



Remember earlier when I said, "Choosing one and being excellent at it is way better than choosing both and just being adequate?" This is where sophistication comes in to play. Sophistication in terms of coffee is the ability to serve a coffee drink that not only looks, but also tastes delicious.

There's a myth out there that cold brew can only be served one way– cold over ice. This is far from the truth. Cold brew can be served cold, hot, or through a nitrogen system. Creating specialty flavored cold brew drinks is a great way to intrigue customers interest– it's possible to even create a cocktail with it. Download our cold brew recipe book for some inspiration.

Espresso has very sophisticated perception. Mostly because it has the ability to make many coffee drinks– lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, etc. However, it still requires trained baristas to perform to the level of sophistication that is expected today. Since more and more coffee shops continue to pop-up, restaurants now have to compete with the standards set by these coffee shops, which includes latte art and perfectly poured espresso.

Consensus: Espresso has a high perception of sophistication, but requires a wide range of time and skill. Cold brew has the potential to be sophisticated by offering a variety of specialty drinks.

It's hard to deny that both cold brew and espresso are tasty coffee drinks, but the costs, training, and time it takes to launch both programs in your restaurant may not be the best decision. After comparing both programs, a cold brew program is less expensive, less time-consuming, and has the potential to be just as sophisticated as an espresso program. Are you ready to launch a cold brew program in your restaurant yet?

Tags: coffee, espresso, cold brew, cold brew system


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