Adding a good beverage menu to your bakery provides a great way to increase your revenue stream. Beverages offer a high profit margin with a reasonable investment and quick return on investment. While alcohol remains the top profit maker, non-alcoholic beverages still give foodservice retailers plenty of profits. Coffees and teas remain a top trend, especially with millennials, and soft drinks always steadily sell. Smoothies continue to trend as well due to their perceived healthiness.

Bakeries that want to truly grab every possible bit of profit margin they can need to do more than just offer coffee, tea and a narrow choice of soft drinks. A recent survey suggested customers at fast food and fast casual restaurants wanted, more than anything else, a better range of drink options. You might need to purchase some equipment to maximize your beverage business, but it will produce good returns once customers begin to choose their favorites and start consuming on a regular basis.

Espresso Machines

For your bakery to offer a true gourmet coffee experience a pot of black coffee with the choice of cream or sugar will not suffice. While commercial espresso machines cost a lot of money, the popularity of coffee doesn’t seem to be slowing down any. Instead of your regular customers dropping by the bakery for usual and then heading to Starbucks for their coffee, give them the option of buying coffee of the same standard from you. Better yet, give non-regulars a reason to frequent your shop and buy coffee and baked goods.

Of course you will want to consider a few things before diving in and spending $5,000 to $15,000 on a commercial espresso machine for your coffee offerings. The first thing to consider is the group size of your machine. If you think you’ll be making 20-30 drinks a day, then a one group machine will suffice. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the four group machine serves the largest of operations. These serve extremely high volume operations with two baristas at all times. For the retail bakery, a four group machine is most likely too much. Two and three group machines fall between, but for a retail bakery just getting started a two group machine is probably the best.

Who will use the machine and how they will use should also play a role in your choice. Four basic styles of espresso machines exist. A manual espresso machine requires a high degree of skill and is used mainly by those with a lot of experience. A semi-automatic machine also requires skill and is used by those who still want most of the control over the entire process.

Retail bakeries just starting out in espresso and gourmet coffee service will most likely benefit most from automatic and super automatic machines. The super automatic machine makes espresso easy for the user. Minimal to no skill required, the super automatic style grinds, tamps, extracts and dumps spent grounds. Taking away the control from the barista yields consistently “okay” espresso, but that’s better than bad espresso made by someone without sufficient skill. The automatic espresso machine takes a step away from the user—water flow selection—but still requires a fair amount of skill.

You can get started with a smaller, super automatic machine and grow your gourmet coffee business from there. Or, you can jump into the business by purchasing a larger automatic or manual machine and hire one or more skilled, full-time baristas to run the operation. Either way, gourmet coffee represents a lucrative business and avenue to increase your bottom line.


Fruit smoothies continue to gain popularity with the American consumer due to their perceived healthiness coupled with a sweet fruity flavor. Contrary to great gourmet coffee beverages, smoothie production requires considerably less operating capital, but with the same large profit margin that comes with offering beverages.

All that’s needed to make smoothies are ingredients, a blender and recipes. The questions that beginning smoothie makers need to ask revolve around whether a current blender is sufficient or a new one is needed, which flavors and mixtures will sell best, and how many different flavors should I put on the menu.

The blender is the most important piece of equipment when it comes to making smoothies. Like the espresso machine, your volume and budget will dictate which blender you purchase or how long your existing blender will last. You can go low-end (budget friendly, which you may already have), mid-range, or high-end.

The low-end blenders make your basic fruit smoothies, but often involve multiple steps to make sure ingredients come out smooth and with the desired texture. The mid-range blenders step up to work better on harder to blend ingredients without breaking the bank and the high-end blenders work best for hard to blend ingredients and high-volumes.

Low-budget blenders run from $25 to $50. Mid-range blenders price out at $75 to $110 and the best fall between $400 and $500. These prices are rough estimates, but should serve as a starting point. No matter which blender you decide to use, smoothies have the ability to provide additional revenue to you retail bakery.