Menu Development: The Wormhole Coffee


Editorial Policy

Published on

Last updated on

This post is part of a series on menu development, which examines strategies for building a menu that reflects your brand and engages customers. (Photo: courtesy of The Wormhole Coffee.)

[I]n a Chicago café that proudly displays a Nintendo and a DeLorean, you might assume the focus on coffee got lost somewhere among the floppy disks and eighties movie posters. Yet Wormhole Coffee’s fascination with kitsch is matched by its enthusiasm for single-origins and the locally sourced ingredients found on their specialty drink menu. You’ll find drinks like Cool but Rude, Koopa-Troopa, and Cruel Summer under the “Top Players” side of the menu, which reads like the high scores of an old-school arcade game.

“We try to have fun with the drinks we create,” says café manager Andreas Willhoff. “The big thing for us is not just having the same sort of drinks you could get anywhere.” For Wormhole, this translates to house-made syrups, local ingredients, and unique presentation—like espresso served in a scotch tulip. “It all comes down to feeling good serving whatever you’re serving,” says Willhoff.

With a staff that stands behind a peanut butter mousse (found in the Koopa-Troopa) as strongly as they promote a hand-brewed single-origin, customers have the opportunity to explore and learn about coffee in a step-by-step progression. For someone who likes a honey latte, Willhoff says they might suggest the Cool but Rude, which uses honey, but is a bit more adventurous with its ginger and curry flare. “If we can get someone to try that, we can get them to try something else,” he says.

In training, Willhoff and his staff spend a lot of time building tasting skills and learning to talk about flavors. When customers come in, the baristas can better guide them through both menu and retail offerings by identifying specific flavor preferences and encouraging them to experience something new from the menu.

Ellie Bradley is Fresh Cup’s associate editor.

More in this series:

Tea Bar

Share This Article

Ellie Bradley

Join 7,000+ coffee pros and get top stories, deals, and other industry goodies in your inbox each week.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Other Articles You May Like

Decaf Coffee, But Make It Specialty

Decaf coffee has come a long way over the last one hundred years, but can it join the third wave?
by Fionn Pooler | February 16, 2024

Welcoming Home Baristas Into Coffee: “It’s On Us, The Professionals”

More and more folks are finding a passion for coffee through swipes and likes, but who is the home barista? How can roasters and cafes welcome them into the larger coffee community?
by Miranda Haney | January 12, 2024

The Prototype of All Desire: How Processing Can Increase—and Improve—Sweetness in Robusta

Sweetness in coffee is often a marker of quality, but it’s often ignored when talking about Robusta. But small changes at the farm level can be the key to finding more sweetness in Robusta.
by Mikey Rinaldo | December 15, 2023

Latte Art and Alternative Milks: The Good, The Bad, and the Tasty

Milk steaming is a hard-earned skill; alternative milks don’t make this task easier. But with a few tips, you can easily toggle from oat to soy to almond.
by Zoe Stanley-Foreman | December 13, 2023