Granita vs. Frozen Carbonated Drinks: What is the most profitable frozen drink option?
As the frozen beverage category has expanded to encompass a wider range of products, and equipment manufacturers have created affordable, easy-to-operate countertop machinery, more and more industries are investing in commercial frozen drink programs.
The simplicity and popularity of the product make frozen beverages an ideal add-on to businesses in the restaurant, amusement park, movie theater, hotel, bar, and even cruise ship industries.
Offering an appealing array of colors and flavors and a refreshing, slushy texture; these frozen beverages are a crowd favorite, especially among kids and teens. Not only are frozen drinks popular, refreshing, and tasty, they are also an extremely profitable product for retailers.
One of the most popular types of frozen beverages is granita, which is often referred to as “slush”.
What is Granita?
Originating in Italy in the 1800s by combining coarsely shaved ice with fruit juice and sugar, granita (otherwise known as “Italian Ice”) is the original frozen beverage. While similar to sorbet and ice cream, granita drinks are not made with dairy, resulting in a less creamy, more watery (“slushy”), and coarse texture.
A typical granita recipe today would include water, sugar, and any number of flavorings, such as fruit juice or coffee.
Today, similar “slushy” drinks, like frozen margaritas, frozen lemonades, and iced coffee slushies continue to be extremely popular. All of these drinks can be served in a piece of equipment known as a “granita machine”.
A granita machine is made up of the “bowl” (where the frozen mixture is stored), a compressor to cool the mixture down to a semi-frozen state, an auger to turn the mixture and prevent it from freezing solid, and a nozzle/spigot to dispense the frozen mixture into a cup.
Benefits of owning a Granita Machine
Like all frozen beverage dispensers, granita machines provide the following benefits to your business:
- High demand: Frozen drinks of all kinds are a great way to increase foot traffic and sales. In fact, 51% of consumers said they ordered a frozen beverage in the last month, according to Technomic’s Beverage Consumer Trend Report, and 30% of consumers said they are purchasing frozen beverages now more than they were a few years ago.
- Highly-profitable: Frozen drinks can give you 20% greater margins than fountain drinks that use more water, and double what you'd earn from a canned beverage.
- Easy to operate: Granita machines are simple to set up and use, don’t require lengthy training, have very low maintenance and downtime, and pose little risk of having the bacteria buildup and health code issues that soft-serve ice cream and other frozen dairy products can bring.
- Low-cost ingredients: Slush and granita drinks are primarily comprised of water, cutting costs on more expensive ingredients such as dairy products.
- Small footprint: Granita machines allow you to take advantage of all these benefits, without the need to install lots of large, expensive equipment.
Advantages of Frozen Carbonated Beverage Dispensers
While uncarbonated slush and granita drinks are made of ice, sugar, and various flavorings, by adding pressurized carbon dioxide (CO₂), you end up with an entirely different kind of product; a frozen carbonated beverage.
Examples of popular frozen carbonated beverages include:
- Slurpee (7-Eleven)
- FREEZONI (QuikTrip)
- Frutista (Taco Bell)
- KOOLEE (Kum&Go)
- Numb Skull (RaceTrac)
- Hyper Freeze (Cumberland Farms)
How Frozen Carbonated Beverage Dispensers work
A frozen carbonated beverage machine works in a similar way to a regular fountain soda machine. With fountain soda, flavored syrup is mixed with water, and then carbon dioxide (CO₂) is added to give this mixture its signature bubbly, crisp texture.
Frozen carbonated beverages machines add one more step to this process: this mixture of syrup, water, and CO₂ is then injected into a cylinder surrounded by refrigerant that chills it down, often below the freezing point of water.
While water alone would freeze solid quickly under such temperatures, pressure (up to 40 P.S.I.), sugar, and CO₂ all combine to prevent the mixture from becoming a solid block of ice.
CO₂ makes up around 50% of the volume of frozen carbonated beverages. At first, that might sound like “selling air,” but it actually adds something special to the drinks that you can’t get in any other kind of frozen drink. When this mixture is dispensed into a cup, the pressure is released, allowing ice crystals to rapidly form and expand, giving frozen carbonated beverages their signature, smooth, fluffy, foam-like consistency that customers have grown to know and love.
Granita vs. Frozen Carbonated Drinks
Now that you know the differences between slush/granita and frozen carbonated beverages, let’s see how they compare side-by-side so you can decide which one is right for your business:
Because of the advanced technology and higher build quality, the up-front cost of a frozen carbonated beverage machine is higher than a granita machine. However, when you factor in cheaper ingredients, higher margins, lower downtime, higher reliability, and a longer lifespan, frozen carbonated beverage dispensers generate much higher profits in the long-term than granita machines.
Frozen carbonated beverages are, by far, the most profitable type of frozen drink you can sell. A frozen carbonated beverage program can bring you 70% to 120% gross profit!
This extremely high level of profitability is mostly due to the fact that 50% of a poured frozen carbonated beverage (FCB) drink is CO₂ (air) and 40% is water.
In comparison, a frozen uncarbonated beverage (FUB) from an open bowl system is 60% water, 15% expansion, and 25% syrup. Without carbonation, syrup usage increases and profits decrease.
Frozen carbonated beverage machines are the easiest frozen drink machines to maintain. They ship from the factory sanitized and ready to use when they arrive. Keep the water on and the syrup and CO₂ full, and your frozen carbonated beverage machine can pour frozen drinks for a whole year before you have to do any routine maintenance on it.
Slush and granita machines, on the other hand, require much more hands-on, daily upkeep. Since the ingredients are mixed and frozen in an unpressurized open-bowl tank, and none of the process is automated, they have to be mixed manually in the right quantities when they’re added.
Sanitation and Food Safety
The main reason frozen carbonated units can go a full year without maintenance is because it is a closed, sealed system with a stainless steel cylinder and high acid product which, combined with CO2, will not allow bacteria to grow.
Bag-in-box syrup packaging makes it easy to refill machines without making a mess mixing product or taking them offline for time-consuming and labor-intensive sanitation routines.
Because slush and granita machines are not sealed from the outside world, the bowls also have to be emptied and properly cleaned out every day to keep them sanitary.
If not properly cleaned on a daily basis, these open bowl systems pose many food safety risks that could lead to illness and hefty Health Department fines for food safety violations.
Running out of product means lost revenue and lower profitability. Higher capacity dispensers ensure you have enough product during peak times with high foot traffic and customer demand.
Even a smaller frozen carbonated beverage dispenser, such as the FBD 37X series, can pour 105 cups per hour compared to only 48 cups per hour with a standard, open bowl system.
Our frozen carbonated beverage machines are built with high-quality materials and parts, and are designed to last 7-10 years.
In comparison, an open bowl system will only last 3-5 years, on average.
One of the biggest advantages of frozen carbonated beverages is the variety of exciting flavor combinations you can offer to your customers that just aren’t possible with granita machines.
In addition to standard frozen carbonated beverage dispenser configurations, one of the best ways to generate more traffic, increase sales, and stay ahead of your competition is to offer unique and innovative Multi-Flavor options.
Multi-Flavor dispensers allow customers to choose 1 base flavor, and then add up to 8 additional flavors to create a completely unique drink that’s perfect for them.
With up to 32 different drink combinations, you can satisfy even the widest range of tastes and preferences.
FBD’s Multi-flavor units feature a simple touchscreen interface that allows customers to easily select their desired flavor combination. The design of the interface can be customized to any brand or program!
At the touch of a finger, customers can instantly mix the frozen beverage and flavor of their choice, such as:
- Frozen lemonade mixed with strawberry, mango, blueberry, or peach
- Frozen coffees with a shot of mocha, caramel, hazelnut, or french vanilla
- A frozen cocktail with a shot of their favorite flavor and spirit, such as Margaritas, Vodka Lemonade, Sangrias, or Jack & Coke
The choice is clear. Get the industry’s #1 most profitable and trusted Frozen Carbonated Beverage Dispensers
Whether you run a restaurant, amusement park, movie theater, hotel, bar, or cruise ship, our expert team can advise you on the best way to set up a highly-profitable, frozen carbonated beverage program.
At FBD, your business becomes our business. We work hand-in-hand with you to adjust your Frozen Beverage Program to your specific capacity and footprint needs, and to shifting market demands.
With over 532 unique equipment configurations, we can completely transform the interface of our machines, whether crew-served or self-serve, to align with your marketing needs.
Our Frozen Beverage Program has the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry, and is trusted by 80% of the world’s frozen beverage retailers.
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