Search around for mentions of the babycino, and you can quickly find a SMH article from 2005 about the price of a babycino, and what makes parents pay so much money for a drink that is essentially just frothed milk.
Of course, there’s much more to it than that. A parent who is ordering a babycino is hoping for a drink that their child can enjoy – hopefully without too much supervision. A cafe that is looking to make parents feel good about spending time there can keep people coming back on a regular basis during otherwise quiet time: this can be a separate source of revenue that doesn’t chew into the morning rush, or the lunchtime trade.
Obviously there are a lot of issues involved in making a welcoming environment for parents. Let’s look at getting the babycino right. What do you need to consider?
Price: how much should you charge for a babycino? You could make it free, free with another drink purchase, or charge for it. $1? $2? more?
Presentation: when you’re trying to justify having someone pay for a money, or make a child feel like a valued patron, you’re going to want to add some extra (preferably inexpensive) flourishes. The trouble with this, though, is generating extra mess, and eating in to the peace of mind that you’re trying to afford your customers (the parents).
Safety: in actually making the babycino, you want to minimise the risk to the kids. This is about making the milk be 80% or more thick froth, so that it’s harder to spill. You need to make sure that it’s a safe drinking temperature for a young child. If you’re going to put it into a ceramic or glass cup, or add a saucer, there’s an increased risk of breakage and spillage.
For very young kids, a paper or cardboard cup with a sealed lid, maybe with a straw: this will avoid the spills and the drops, and let a child be safe with a reduced level of parental supervision.
Tidiness and nutrition: kids drink thing differently to grown-ups. If you dust something with chocolate all the way to the edge of the glass, then the child (and your table, and maybe your floor) is going to need more clean-up. If your babycino is closer to a hot chocolate, and it’s full of marshmallows, this is a trade-off. You may end up hyping up the kids your customers hope will be relaxing, and risk losing that repeat business.
What makes you appreciate a particular babycino or decide a cafe is child-friendy? Let me know in the comments below.