With a reported 6 in 10 drinking it daily, coffee has been deemed “America’s favorite beverage”, but we’ve found a lot of tinkering going on both inside and outside of the cup. Whether impacted by the pandemic, influenced by macro trends driving consumer behavior across all categories, or latching onto micro trends in the beverage category itself, coffee is evolving. Here are some examples beyond nitro and cold-brewed:
At Home. Lockdowns, distance learning, WFH, as well as limited café seating have shifted coffee consumption to the home, but analysts are divided on its long-term outlook. While the pendulum currently hovers in the at-home consumption camp, retail brands are targeting the amateur barista with DIY recipes, as well as improving their digital experience to better facilitate takeout and delivery. In addition, we see momentum with instant coffee, where global sales are projected to grow +2.5%, buoyed by the Dalgona craze and prompting Starbucks and Nestle to team up on a premium Medium and Dark Roast version for sale overseas.
Craft Brewed. Consumer desire for personalization, heightened experiences and authenticity contribute to the +143% growth predicted between 2018 and 2025 in this “next boom industry”. Look for more emphasis on origin stories and the elevation of coffee “as an art form”, taking a cue from the craft cocktail movement.
Edible. While coffee-infused foods are nothing new, coffee as a food is. We see fine-ground coffee beans being combined with cocoa butter and new techniques to produce bars like Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Thins and Nudge Butters.
Hybrids. The last 12 months have delivered a rash of coffee-blended beverages. In fact, “coffee is being integrated into everything from sparkling beverages to energy drinks to juices”. Both Pepsi and Coca-Cola have debuted coffee-flavored colas either domestically or internationally, hard coffees have been rolled out by beer brands, “coffee juices – iced fruit drinks topped with cold coffee” are brewing on the East Coast, and Ocean Spray has created a non-alcoholic shandy pairing Cranberry Lemonade with Cold Brew Coffee.
Functional. Nearly 7 in 10 U.S. adults are interested in wellness benefits via beverages, with 4 in 10 interested in enhancing sports & fitness performance. WORKOUT coffee intends to deliver, armed with a patented black tea extract and clinical research to support pre-workout and sports recovery claims.
Sustainable. In response to global coffee bean crops negatively impacted by climate change, coffee rust and limited arable land, two entrants are raising eyebrows. Atomo Coffee, a startup with over $10M in VC funding that has developed an alternative coffee to mimic the beverage without the bean, and Jolt – a shelf-stable, coffee concentrate whose small, liquid volume reduces the burden on shipping and therefore, carbon footprint.
Despite all of this innovation, we feel compelled as coffee lovers to recommend a few ideas of our own. First, attempt to relieve stay-at-home-fatigue. Consider sending consumers on a trip around the world via LTO specialty drinks inspired by the flavors of the globe. Enhance the sensorial experience, experimenting with garnishes or textures. Enable mental and physical self-care pushing both flavor and health. Try swapping tap water with flavored, infused or functional waters like coconut, rose, birch, water kefir or chlorophyll water. And finally, be holistic in sustainable offerings, considering not just origin stories and footprint, but packaging as well.
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 “New Wave Coffee”, JWT, 1/24/19
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