I have been trying to avoid this for a long time but the day has come. We need a blender and we need to get set up with frozen drink mixes. When we were in Bozeman, we pretty much could get away with Italian Soda and iced coffee drinks. Here in Oklahoma, not so much.

So, I really like what Caffe D'Amore is doing with the new Bellagio line of frozen drink mixes and I think that is probably what we are going to use. We also need fruit smoothy mix as well. I am pretty green when it comes to blender drinks mainly because I do not drink them myself.

What is good?
Who is doing something new and fresh?
Are there good companies that we can use and not have to use fresh fruit (I know, that would make it much better but we are a catering company and not ready to do that quite yet)?

If you have any advise, I would love your help!

..be bold

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Comment by Alex Galt on March 13, 2008 at 9:44am
I'd like to add something to this discussion (what great forum this is... so nice to be able to communicate with a number of other coffeehouse owners!). Years ago I lived in Jamaica Plain in Boston, back before it was totally gentrified. Don't know if El Oriental de Cuba is still there on Centre St, but I used to go there to get their 'batidos' when doing my laundry at the adjacent laundromat. These were just fruit blended with soft serve. Flash Forward to Summer 2007, I decided to revive these for our coffeehouse. I bought a soft serve machine, which we use with a Columbo non-fat frozen yogurt base (vanilla). It's pretty good stuff. We make our batidos with it (1 cup fruit to 1 cup fro-yo, blended), our espresso shake, chai shake, etc. We used to use ice cream for these, but the soft-serve is cheaper (once you pay for the machine), and it's made with skim milk so it's non-fat. For fruit smoothies, we use Dr. Smoothie stuff.
Comment by Jason Duncan on March 11, 2008 at 5:00pm
Thanks guys. I think I will go with a neutral base for our blended drinks. Can I do both fruit and coffee based with a base like that?
Comment by Matt Milletto on March 11, 2008 at 2:03pm
I tend to agree with Jared, that a neutral base is necessary to give a blended drink that milkshake like texture. Caffe D'Amore, Dr. Smoothie, Cappucine, Big Train, Torani, and many more companies make these powder mixes, and sauces. If you are looking for something that is a bit more health conscious check out Coffee Inventions products at http://coffeeinventions.com/
Comment by Amy La on March 11, 2008 at 1:51pm
I picked it up here, but don't see it on their list (you may want to contact them directly):

Health food or natural product stores may carry it too.

There are other gums that can do similar things, such as xanthan. I do not recommend pectin, if gave an odd flavor to the coffee drinks.

If you have the freezer space and the cost works out I love making coffee shakes with ice cream and a milkshake blender, which may be a good option too (especially if you don't want to use a thickener).
Comment by Jason Duncan on March 11, 2008 at 1:07pm
Guys, this has been great. Thanks for all of your input. Where would one get Carrageenan? I think going homemade sounds great and probably something we will try out.

Ward - thanks for the advise! I would love to get your thoughts on recipes. This is new for Evoke and something we really did not want to have to get in to.

Thanks again!
Comment by Brady on March 11, 2008 at 12:48pm
We're all-homemade too now, for the same reasons Amy gave (do you really want to serve your customers SAND?). I honestly like the taste better anyway. Carrageenan is something we haven't tried yet though - we may look into that. Gotta polish-up the blendy drinks, the kids will be out of school soon...
Comment by Amy La on March 11, 2008 at 12:01pm
Hey, I saw your post and thought I'd let you know what we're doing. We go all home made except for adding carrageenan to keep the drinks form separating. We make an espresso/sugar base that we refrigerate, then each drink has a shot of that, milk, ice, syrup or chocolate sauce, carrageenan and blend. We can also pull a shot of espresso instead and increase the amount of syrup and make a sugar free version, or sub soymilk - it's nice we can offer these options for the non sugar and non milk people. The mixes can be temptingly easy and cheap (and tasty) but I like knowing exactly what is in our drinks.
Comment by Ward Payne on March 11, 2008 at 11:10am
Can't help but rely on offering the full menu to stay in business myself. On that note: Dr. Smoothie smoothie mix and Deep Vanilla Creme. The smoothies are 100% fruit and the vanilla creme we use to create anything we need, including some fairly healthy drinks (happy to share). The vanilla is also low in calories compared to other mixes, and since we add the espresso we can vouch for the coffee. I hate all the promo material they use, but it's great product. Also, ask for a sample of their Chai Tea powder.
Comment by Jared Mockli on March 11, 2008 at 10:28am
I generally like using a neutral vanilla base for blender drinks. I think they offer a nice balance and texture. They are very simple to use, and often you can by your blenders right through your powder supplier.

As for the fruit smoothies, there are a number of companies that offer a great product. A few that I can think of off the top of my head are:
Dr Smoothie
Jet Tea
Torani (Frusia)
Comment by Bruno on March 11, 2008 at 10:03am
Instead of using milk + ice, I strongly recommend that you use 50% of cold milk and 50% of vanilla ice cream (and sugar to taste).

This way your iced coffee won't be watered and besides, it will be far more creamy.

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