The second wave of coffee certainly shifted U.S. culture and brought us popular drinks like espresso, cappuccino and latte. Now, Americans can scarcely remember a time before a coffee shop beckoned from every corner. In 2017, the National Coffee Association reported that 59 percent of the coffee Americans consume is in the “gourmet” category.
Indeed, consumers have grown savvier about coffee beans, roast styles and flavor profiles often promoted by gourmet brands. Additionally, coffee sellers continue to innovate to meet the American demand for new and interesting coffee flavors, drinks and techniques. Here’s a look at some of the hottest trends in coffee right now.
COFFEE BREWING TRENDS
Cold Brew involves brewing coffee without hot water. Here, time is more critical than heat, as coarse-ground beans steeped in cold water for 12 hours or more. The result is a delicious coffee lower in acidity and with a more subtle taste than hot brewed coffee. Cold brews are extremely versatile and can be served chilled or at room temperature, fresh from the pot or bottled. Iced coffee is a popular summertime drink, but cold brew is quickly taking over. It’s rise in popularity among Millennials continues to grow. Be aware, though, cold brew packs more punch in terms of caffeine content.
Vacuum Pot Brewing
The vacuum pot method was invented by the Germans, but it’s definitely caught on and spread throughout U.S. Baristas are specially trained to use the more complicated vacuum pot, but the result is a flavor lauded globally by coffee fanatics. The seven-step method involves a two-chamber pot, or syphon, that utilizes heating and cooling to create vapor pressure and vacuum. The vacuum pulls coffee through a filter and into the lower chamber. The equipment and process may be too much for most people to adopt for home use, but it can be found in specialty coffee shops in many urban centers around the U.S.
COFFEE SHOP TRENDS
Nitro coffee is definitely an interesting trend with much yet to be tested with flavor options. Here, cold-brewed coffee mixed with nitrogen and served through a bar tap. Often served in a pint glass, the effect looks similar to a creamy stout. However, the flavor is all in the realm of coffee as it contains no alcohol, barley or hops. Some sellers have managed to can nitro coffee, making it a hip new convenience drink. It’s quickly becoming another unique alternative to the iced coffee Americans so love. Nitro coffee uses cold brew coffee that has a higher caffeine content than regularly brewed coffee. Otherwise, its flavor is similar to cold brew but is lauded for its mouthfeel – a bubbly, creamy texture. The sky is the limit with adding flavors to create wonderful, bubbly coffee sodas.
Coffee in a Cone
Coffee in a cone? Why not? The name says it all. Evocative of coffee ice cream treats, this trend is all about the crunchy, leak-proof cone. Once someone realized it was the perfect container for a coffee drink of choice, pictures began popping up of coffee cones all over social media. The cones often feature chocolate around the rim, adding to the sweet pleasure of what is essentially an adult drink. Cones may not appeal to the commuter crowd, but for anyone who want to relax and savor the flavor? Yes. This trend offers a playful entry into the serious side of coffee culture, with many flavor varieties yet to explore.
Direct Trade Coffee
Millennials didn’t invent sustainability, but this generation is making sure that it’s part and parcel to almost everything they consume. Coffee is no exception. Also called direct-sourced coffee, the term picks up where fair trade has sometimes fallen short. Economically speaking, its goal is to build a reliable supply chain without losing quality. As new trade models have been established, coffee pioneers have sought to buy direct from coffee farmers, with fewer exchanges between the buyer and seller. The result is stronger relationships and knowledge of the product, and a fairer deal for the hard labor of farming. Often, coffee shops that participate in direct trade will sell bags of their own roasted product. This virtually eliminates the need to purchase coffee from large chains, keeping consumers closer to the product.
Teas from Coffee Plants
OK, so tea isn’t strictly speaking a coffee trend. But two coffee plant teas are uniting the coffee and tea drinkers more than ever before. Coffee cherry tea, also called Cascara, and coffee-leaf tea are both gaining in popularity. It’s probably no surprise that these products appeal to the health and sustainability conscious consumers. With the rise of flavored bottled teas and even kombucha, or fermented tea, coffee plant teas have a strong future. With creative flavoring and marketing, they stand to become even more widely recognized and consumed by Americans.
Considered aromatic and sensuous, coffee cherry tea comes from the dried coffee cherry, or the fruit around the coffee bean. Some say it tastes like the very popular rooibos tea, which is found in many coffee and tea shops. It is sometimes mixed with cinnamon sticks and has about one-fourth the caffeine levels of a regular cuppa joe.
Coffee-leaf tea is naturally high in antioxidants and is lower in caffeine and considered a viable alternative to green tea. Additionally, it’s become attractive to consumers interested in supporting fair-trade practices. The sale of coffee leaves helps coffee farmers earn a more stable income.
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