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McDonald’s is the most successful restaurant company in the world. They have painstakingly developed products, marketing and consistency to deliver an experience to consumers that never disappoints. Consumers choose McDonald’s and the product is exactly what they expect.

Starbucks has been in the “experience” business for 30 years providing consumers a daily staple served just a bit better. Both companies focus on consumer need, one from the high-end, one from the lower end with massive success. McDonald’s, not satisfied to be the burger only place, took on Starbuck’s dominance of coffee, at the perfect time, when consumers, rich and not so rich, decided to cut back. McDonald’s now serves better than average coffee, charges a little more and grew their sales and profits dramatically. Maybe it is time for pizza operators to do the same.

Raise the Bar

Caffeine is America’s favorite drug. We drink it all day long, hot, iced, fancy and straight. Look at your coffee offer; is it a great customer experience? You do not need to have a full espresso maker, cappuccino coffee shop offer, simply buy better beans, good equipment that will deliver 190-degree hot water and PROMOTE the difference. If you tell customers that you NOW have better coffee and demonstrate the difference, they will notice. Simple signs, counter cards, menu boards or printed on your carry out menu raise the bar of expectation.

Consumers like to know where their food originates. Think California Cheese, Parma Prosciutto, Greek Feta. Tell the story; “our beans come from high elevation farms in Central America. They are shade grown, hand-picked and fresh roasted within 30 days of brewing.”

Coffee Drives Dessert Sales

I spent 14 years in the wholesale bakery business. One thing I learned was better coffee drove dessert sales. Restaurants that featured good coffee got their customers to stay and order dessert. I think dessert sales are a missed opportunity for pizzerias. The main objection to dessert sales is that people feel full after a few slices of pizza. A nice slice of cheesecake, a cup of ice cream or gelato and a very good cup of coffee, end the dine-in experience on a high note.

For carry out and delivery, coffee is a little tougher. Bottles of soda travel easily. If you deliver fountain soda, coffee works just as well. Tight fitting lids, coffee sleeves and cup holders are essential.


Inexpensive coffee will cost you 15-20 cents per serving but you can only charge a $1.00. A serving of better coffee will run you 20-30 cents. Selling premium coffee at $1.75 or more, drives a very low food cost. It also widens choice. Another successful McDonald’s strategy is the expansion into salads; now “moms” are more likely to say yes to their kids, because there is something for them. Good coffee provides one more YES to parents who want their children satisfied AND want good options for themselves.

 Coffee sales are hot, now is a great time to capitalize on the trend without investing a lot of capital. A good coffee set-up will run you $500-1,000 including the air pots. Maybe the best reason to have premium coffee is that with all the hours you spend in your shop, wouldn’t you like a great cup of coffee for yourself. Success in the pizza business today requires not doing things as you always have, but to look beyond and really serve consumer’s needs.

Wishing you success in pizza – Ed

Ed Zimmerman is a pizza industry veteran and President of, the number 1 web portal that connects consumers to pizzerias. His almost four decades of foodservice experience includes food manufacturing and distribution leadership, food industry technology, marketing services and restaurant and grocery operations management.


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Ed Zimmerman
Ed Zimmerman is a pizza industry veteran and President of The Food Connector. His almost four decades of foodservice experience includes food manufacturing and distribution leadership, food industry technology, marketing services and restaurant and grocery operations management.
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