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      • Which Christmas coffees and festive drinks should you be offering this December?

      • Cast your mind back a decade – painful though that may be – and the only festive drink we British start slugging back at Christmas any more than the rest of the year was mulled wine. The big American coffee chains have changed that. We don’t know whether people always make a special trip to coffee shops for a Christmassy take on their usual coffee, but Costa’s spiced cappuccino and gingerbread latte always go down a treat! For this reason, it’s worth considering adding one or two of the most popular Christmas coffees to your menu over the next few weeks.

        One drink which has come on to vie with mulled wine in the hot alcoholic stakes is mulled cider. Got an alcohol licence? Big events and late-night shopping happening in your area? Then it might be worth your time knocking up a test quantity. And if you don’t have the licence to sell alcohol – fresh apple juice instead of cider will give you a tasty non-alcoholic version.

        Here’s your test recipe for mulled cider: two litres of apple juice or a dry cider, a couple of apples and half a dozen cloves, and a couple of tablespoons of sugar for a sweet touch. After that, it’s all about individual taste, and a blend of nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange zest and allspice should get the taste buds zinging.

        Back on the coffee shop menu, here are some of our favourite sickly but straightforward Christmas coffees. We’ve chosen these because you only require a handful of extra ingredients, and the rest is handled easily by your trusty espresso machine.

        Salted caramel cappuccino. You’ll need – salted caramel syrup, your standard cappuccino, and perhaps a sprinkling of salted caramel as a topping

        Gingerbread latte. You’ll need – gingerbread syrup, a good latte pour, and some whipped cream to top it off. Decorate with edible glitter or crumbled wafer to go one better.

        Toffee nut latte. You’ll need – toffee nut syrup, your espresso-based latte, and the all-important swirl of whipped cream. Tiny toffee sprinkles will seal the deal.

        Praline latte. You’ll need – a praline syrup, the never-a-surprise latte, whipped cream and a handful of small marshmallows to throw on top.

        Eggnog latte. You’ll need – to swap the milk in your latte for steamed eggnog, then top the poured drink with whipped cream. Add a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg and you’ll find your own distinctive flavour.

        Hot chocolate. You’ll need – something to give it extra nose and taste appeal. Hot chocolate will always go down a treat when your customers want to feel extra cosy, but add mint, Belgian chocolate sauce or salted caramel flavouring, and it becomes a seriously moreish option.

        Spiced cappuccino. You'll need - cinnamon syrup, your typical cappuccino, hot milk and a pinch of ground cinnamon. 

        You can decorate festive coffees however you like – there are masses of different edible toppings out there in all sorts of colours and flavours. Who knows, you may even find a signature coffee of your very own for next festive season. Best of all – except for the whipped cream, which is hardly a pricy purchase – syrups and flavourings have a long shelf life, so you can always stretch your extended coffee menu for as long as the weather remains frosty.

        Use the run-up to December as valuable time to experiment and perfect your cafes faultless festive offerings. Practice recipes on friends and family, or perhaps think about offering free testers to passers-by! This will provide you with valuable insights, so that when December is eventually upon us, you’ll have a myriad of products you know people will love!