The perfect solution to rising food and labor costs, caffeinated drinks beckon.

As labor and food costs inflate, restaurants are raising menu prices. But are there other ways to create revenue that will excite diners rather than potentially turn them off? Will Bowron, vice president of wholesale distribution at Red Diamond, suggests restaurants take a fresh look at their beverage menus.

If water is table stakes, then carbonated beverages might be thought of as the next step up. But water and carbonated beverages aren’t driving traffic, Bowron says, and it’s important for operators to understand the many benefits of caffeinated drinks.

“In the past two years, everyone has been at home drinking the same stuff every day,” Bowron says. “Being able to provide variability on your menu makes you stand out, and, in that way, coffee and tea are differentiators because you can create so many different types of drinks with them. Diners will choose where they eat based on the coffee and tea beverages that you have. And you can provide unique coffee and tea drinks without a huge investment.”

Using the right coffee and tea products can help brands create a consistent and memorable experience while saving on labor and achieving a higher margin than they would on water or soft drinks. Take, for example, Red Diamond’s Watermelon Simple Sweet Tea. It’s a beverage that requires little-to-no time for front-of-house team members to prep. Then diners can enjoy customizing the beverage in any way they want. That same sweet tea can also be used in menu items like cocktails or mocktails, Arnold Palmers, and more.

Because coffee and tea can be hot or cold and served during different dayparts, the opportunities for LTOs and customization are areas where operators can ensure they’re appealing to diners of all generations. “For Gen Z and millennials, flavor and customization are huge,’’ Bowron says. “We have a number of flavored teas to meet that demand. But you know who else likes that? The older generations that are looking for a sweet afternoon pick-me-up.”

Similarly, coffee products are appealing to diners when they can be customized to meet their own taste preferences. Customization in the coffee space often relies on a milk product, or a milk alternative, whether it’s oat milk, almond milk, or coconut milk. The key, Bowron says, is starting with a high-quality product that will help showcase something special. Red Diamond offers a variety of farmer-to-cup style products—a single origin line called High Altitude—where diners can learn the name and location of a farm and a little bit about the family who grew the beans.

“Our tagline is ‘Expect Perfection,’” Bowron says. “Our brand name is Red Diamond because it’s the most valuable gem in existence. These aren’t just marketing gimmicks, but they are our core philosophies as a company. We have always focused on making sure the consumer gets the absolute best, highest quality experience. Our operations are second to none, and we know that’s what people in the restaurant business strive for, too.”

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