Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
September 28, 2022

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Coffee-forward desserts can tap into the energizing year-round menu appeal that hot and chilled coffee beverages have garnered, transitioning favorite coffee drinks and their crave-inducing seasonal flavors into aspects of contemporary dessert features. Restaurants can incorporate top sellers like the latte, mocha, Dalgona, espresso or cold brew into dessert mainstays or seasonal LTOs anticipated by diners with the change of the seasons.

Here, we provide in-market examples from across the national landscape and offer inspiration with a “try this” section, reflecting coffee opportunities within each season.


Pair coffee with soothing sentimental flavors like caramel, cinnamon roll, maple, pumpkin spice, gingerbread, graham cracker and cider.

  • Caramel Macchiato Crêpe: Italian espresso gelato, caramel spread, dark chocolate-covered espresso beans, chocolate chips, caramel bites, espresso powder, caramel drizzle, whipped cream on a freshly made crêpe
    Daily Drip Coffee & Desserts, Glendale, Ariz.
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte Swirl: Pumpkin spice doughnut dipped in a pumpkin spice/sugar blend, swirled with white buttercream and coffee buttercream
    Krispy Kreme, based in Winston-Salem, N.C.


  • Cornucopia Nitro Cake: Miniature vanilla bundt cake + maple-poached pears + nitro coffee sabayon


Pair coffee with rich, full flavors like dark chocolate, brown sugar, chai, peppermint, butterscotch, roasted nuts, warming spices and chiles.

  • Opera Cake: Rum chocolate sponge, coffee butter cream, ganache, chocolate cream, Kona coffee ice cream
    53 By The Sea, Honolulu
  • Coffee Dessert Flight: Tiramisu, mudslide cake, caramel macchiato-cremeux cinnamon cake truffle
    Ocean House Restaurant, Dennis Port, Mass.


  • Chocolate Java Pavlova: Chocolate pavlova + whipped espresso cream + chai-spiced black mission fig compote + pomegranate-coffee liqueur drizzle


Pair coffee with invigorating flavors like tree fruits, berries, white chocolate, horchata, vanilla, florals, herbals and honey.

  • Gone Bananas: Banana pudding ice cream, caramel drizzle, fresh banana slices, praline pecans, whipped cream, espresso
    Perets Dessert & Coffee Bar, Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Dalgona Coffee Nutella (Shibuya Toast) topped with chocolate ice cream, Dalgona coffee, Nutella, almond cookie, chocolate drizzle and whipping cream
    Sweet Memes, with locations in Houston and Austin


  • White Mocha Churros: Lavender sugar-dusted churros filled with white mocha cream


Pair coffee with refreshingly cheerful flavors like citrus, berries and tropical fruit.

  • Cold Brew with Coconut Cream: Light and bright Slingshot Coffee cold-brew sorbet twisted with lush coconut cream
    Jeni’s Ice Cream, based in Columbus, Ohio
  • Breakfast in Lima: Plantain cake, coffee-lime buttercream, chocolate ganache and chocolate crunch
    sugargoat, Chicago


  • Charged Berry Cheesecake Hand Pie: Whipped cream cheese + açai-blueberry-green coffee extract filling + pie dough + violet sparkling sugar



About The Author

Rob Corliss

Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.