Although it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when people started drinking coffee, we know the practice dates back hundreds of years. Popular lore holds that when an Ethiopian goat herder noticed his animals became energized after eating fruit from a coffee shrub, he started eating the fruit himself and sharing it with others.
Coffee roasting and brewing as we know it today is thought to date to the 13th century, with roots in Arabia. As coffee spread, contributions from a variety of cultures and regions – Dutch, Caribbean, and Central and South American nations, among others – resulted in new variations.
Today, coffee is a worldwide industry. It is estimated that 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed across the globe daily. Whether you’re in the restaurant business, you’re a coffee roaster, or you’re looking to expand to new manufacturing markets, understanding the latest coffee trends could lead to new avenues of exploration.
There’s a lot to be said about the health benefits of black coffee. In addition to mental stimulation, it could improve concentration, uplift mood, aid in weight loss, and enhance physical performance. Studies have also linked it to improved liver health, and it is thought to help reduce risks for cancer and diabetes.
That said, not everyone loves black coffee, and additions like cream and sugar can significantly counteract health benefits. Today, we’re seeing healthier additions like alternative milks (soy, nut, oat, etc.), ghee butter/MCT blends (aka bulletproof coffee), and even substitute beverages like mushroom “coffee” and golden milk.
Canned, bottled, and otherwise ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee beverages are nothing new – Starbucks started selling bottled frappuccinos back in the ‘90s, and the trend took off in a big way. What’s new in the RTD coffee world nearly 30 years later?
For one thing, options have expanded so that the market for RTD coffee is now valued at roughly $22 billion, with room to grow. Consumer attitudes regarding on-the-go convenience seem to be one of the major driving factors, but it doesn’t hurt that there are products for every preference, from nitro brews to dairy-free cold brew to carton-style packaging designed to do less environmental harm.
For those in other segments of the coffee industry, from roasting to fresh brew establishments, RTD coffee is an opportunity to expand to new markets and reach consumers seeking grab-and-go convenience. These beverages are frequently positioned as a healthy alternative to sodas.
If you think about it, people have long added protein to coffee in the form of animal products like cream. However, this method also adds fat that health-conscious consumers these days may prefer to avoid.
The current trend is to add protein through powdered or liquid additives like protein shake mix, protein powder (including plant-based protein), pea milk, or collagen. This infers a hefty dose of protein without unwanted additives like fat and sugar.
With new research into gut health and maintaining a balanced microbiome, more consumers are showing interest in fermented foods. These items offer a range of desirable benefits, from antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions and more.
Although experimentation with fermenting green coffee beans is in the early stages, from a mass market standpoint, it shows promise as a tasty addition to beverages like kombucha.
Tart, earthy kombucha reaches a whole new level of complexity with a coffee liqueur flavor infusion and hints of citrus. It’s a great update to both beverages, delivering the convenience and health benefits consumers are searching for.
Taking the cold brew trend to the next level is flash brewing, where coffee is brewed hot to extract the most flavor and then quickly chilled (without adding ice that could dilute it). The result is an incredibly tasty brew, served cold, that’s faster and less wasteful for coffee shops than making cold brew.
Capitalize on the Newest Coffee Trends
With coffee trends and consumer preferences constantly in flux, there’s always room for coffee roasters, brewers, and manufacturers to explore and grow.
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