If you’ve been to our Carmel coffee shop, you’ve likely noticed that we offer rotating signature drinks on our menu, changing them out each quarter. Many of our customers have asked questions about these special menu offerings, wondering where they come from, how we choose them, and why they only last for a single season. This blog will answer all your most pressing sig drink questions!
Who makes the sig drinks?
Our signature drinks are all created and perfected by our staff. We love being able to get our team involved with curating our menu. The friendly competition is also a great team-building opportunity! We love to see when some of our staff members work together to create something special because, as they say, sometimes “two heads are better than one.” Some of our team-created beverages have been big hits!
Getting our sig drinks on the menu
The process for creating sig drinks has been perfected over the years and it goes like this:
First, the process operates a bit like the TV shows Iron Chef and Chopped. Management comes up with a list of ingredients that can be used. (Some ingredients are chosen for the season, some for their uniqueness if they’ve never been used in a sig drink before, and some because they are commonly liked flavors that make great-tasting drinks!) The only rules the staff have to follow are that the base of the beverage they create has to be one that appears on our regular menu–espresso, cold brew, tea, etc.
Staff members are able to experiment with different flavors, testing out various combinations and tweaking them to perfection for two or three weeks leading up to the judging. Each staff member is allowed to submit up to two coffee-based drinks and two tea-based drinks.
On the day of the sig drink judging, we bring in a special panel of judges, different each quarter. The judges selected include one staff member, usually from the coffee department to ensure that the flavors selected are complementary to the natural flavor notes of the coffee, and two or three customers who are regulars at our shop and have consumed our signature drinks in the past. Each judge is given a score sheet for judging every drink on its presentation and taste. We also factor in ease of creation, because all sig drinks chosen have to be able to be made in a reasonable amount of time behind the counter!
Sig drinks embody the season. We love offering quarterly beverages to represent the season we’re in and to keep our menu fresh and interesting for our customers. It’s fun to come in in the summer months to get something that’s a little more citrusy and something in the winter that’s a little more comforting. But of course, what we actually end up with is often a pleasant surprise!
Some past favorites
We’ve noticed that the sig drinks that end up on our most-popular list often include blueberry or blackberry flavors. Remember the Jasper and Black & Blue? Blueberry and blackberry are extremely complementary flavors to our coffees’ natural flavor notes. We also notice that drinks that have a strong seasonal connection tend to be popular as well. The Gwen was a simple cold brew-based drink with chocolate and banana flavors that ended up being one of our most popular summer favorites of all time!
What makes a good sig drink?
The sig drinks that are typically deemed “the best” are those that feature a balance of flavors, usually with a traditional flair. Most of our customers seem to like flavors that are complementary to our base coffee and tea rather than overpowering. ICR regulars seem to prefer to cut the sugar too.
What we see in the future for sig drinks
We’re really looking forward to seeing some fresh flavors on the menu in the coming seasons, especially concepts that haven’t been used before! Get your taste buds ready for something featuring unique flavors like basil, lavender, or fruity purees. The possibilities are endless and we love giving our staff the opportunity to try new things and push the boundaries a little.
What are some flavor combinations that catch your interest?