The Secret Menus of Rochester: Caffeine Craze

December 13, 2018 10:37 PM

(ABC 6 News) – Many people have their favorite local restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. However, many of these places also serve menu items they don't advertise.

Old Abe Coffee on Seventh Street in Rochester is known for its vegan and dairy free menu options, but what most people don't know is that there's a secret menu, with items only a handful of people know well enough to order.


ABC 6 News asked business owner Abe Sauer how a secret menu gets off the ground.

“Usually it's an individual customer that gets it started by ordering something special,” Sauer said. “Then they'll come back and they'll tell a friend. It's usually a word of mouth kind of thing. Or, we'll do a week of a special which is something that we cook up and then they'll come back again and again."

The ABC 6 News crew also asked Sauer to share one of these special items.

"We have one that I'll tell you about, it's an Almond Joy coffee drink,” Sauer said. “It's to replicate an almond joy candy bar; it is coconut and almond and chocolate."

There are a lot of rumors that Café Steam along Broadway Avenue, in downtown Rochester, has tons of secret concoctions. ABC 6 news tested that theory and found out that Café Steam has an entire secret binder hidden behind the counter filled with well-known and mysterious beverages.

“It's a thick binder, there are other things in there, not necessarily just the secret menu items, but a lot of them are the secret menu items," Café Steam co-owner Will Forsman said.

"There's an inclusive exclusivity to it,” Forsman said. “What we're looking for is to allow a customer to develop a relationship with the barista, but there's also some level of comradery so that you feel as though you're a part of something."     

Forsman opened the binder and crafted the secret “Calypso” drink for ABC 6 News.

"We're adding two scoops of our matcha powder, then we're grabbing our lemonade, two pumps of vanilla bean syrup and then we shake," Forsman said.

Forsman also mentioned that there are also special drinks of the month, the most recent being the “Churchill,” which is a hot spiced cinnamon apple cider drink. He said regular customers who recognize the drink can order those any time of the year, even after they’re taken off the menu.

Saint James Coffee also creates seasonal drinks that aren't on the permanent menu.

The non-profit, shop sits just off of 18th Avenue northwest.

”A lot of times our baristas have their own secret menus in their minds of things that they like to make when they're here," Saint James Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Gallenberg said. "All of our specialty drinks are named after saints, or are a play on different religious orders."

For example, you can order a “Saint Dominic,” which is a combination of light and dark chocolate and coffee.

But just like at Café Steam, customers can order any special seasonal drink any time of year. Our ABC 6 News crew tried the summer “Campfire S’mores” drink special in December.

“We really see it as part of our mission to be hospitable, to be welcoming to be a place where people encounter something that they don't get going to another coffee shop in town,” Gallenberg said.

If you own a local small business, such as a restaurant, bar or fast food joint and have a secret menu item you'd like to share with ABC 6 News, send your tips to the Twitter handle @ABC6News or e-mail


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