With the easy access we now have to the internet and social media, consumers are constantly bombarded with new ideas and product information. As such, this means brands have a greater number of trends to contend with – in the coffee sector and beyond.
Keeping up with these ever-changing consumer preferences can be challenging. However, they also present opportunities for coffee businesses looking to keep their existing customers and attract new ones, too.
TREND #1: HEALTH, FITNESS & WELLBEING
Coffee has seen huge growth in the past five years. The next trend is health. Tea-based beverages and plant-based nutrition are seeing a surge in popularity.
The Covid-19 pandemic has influenced consumer behaviour, pushing people towards improving their physical and mental wellbeing.
This can be charted through a natural move away from sugary soft drinks in favour of other refreshing cold beverages. As well as kombucha and cold teas, this also includes cold brew, which has become a popular alternative to sodas, and other cold or iced coffee products.
Many people even use black coffee as an exercise supplement, as it gives them a boost of energy to get through a workout session but is incredibly low in calories.
TREND #2: COLD COFFEE
The shift towards cold coffee with things like the growth of cold brew have become mainstream. Consumer palates and preferences are changing, with cold coffee sales on the rise for some years now.
In the US alone, the iced beverage segment has grown incredibly quickly in just a few short years. According to Allegra’s Project Iced USA 2020, the product category had an annual growth rate of 7.3% in 2019 and a total value of US $10.4 billion.
One of the biggest factors driving this change is the weather. Traditionally, coffee consumption has fallen during warmer months, as consumers have historically turned to colder and more refreshing beverages. However, in recent years, this fall has been covered by the introduction and rapid growth of iced beverages, cold brew, and other cold coffee options. We will all be experiencing longer and warmer weather in the years to come, until a clear and sustainable solution is found to reverse it.
TREND #3: ENVIRONMENTAL & SOCIAL IMPACT
According to a 2018 survey by Forbes, as much as 88% of consumers prefer brands have a positive environmental and social footprint. This motivation to invest in sustainable and ethical products affects everything, from the food they eat to the coffee they drink.
Research from Mintel in 2021 indicates that 32% of people they polled drank plant-based milk, up by 7% from a figure of 25% in 2020. The study also suggests that the demand for alternative milk was being driven by environmental and personal wellbeing factors.
Another great example of this is the uptick in sustainably-grown coffee. Not only is this a change made by coffee farmers, it’s also becoming increasingly popular with consumers, with the sales volumes of Fair Trade, UTZ, Rainforest Alliance, organic, and 4C-certified coffee increasing year-on-year, according to the CBI.
TREND #4: AN EVER-GROWING FOCUS ON QUALITY
Specialty coffee is one of the biggest trends in the wider food and beverage sector. This has elevated the café experience, and as a part of that, coffee shops are diversifying into a range of different quality-focused products outside of coffee. Non-caffeinated lattes such as those made with turmeric, matcha, or other quality ingredients are a great example of this.
Quality doesn’t always mean having an overwhelming range of drink options, coffee businesses should strive to achieve consistent high-quality coffee as a basis, to please their regular customers who are perhaps not so interested in the latest trendy latte.
TREND #5: PHOTOGENIC PRODUCTS
In today’s social media focused world, food or beverages have to be photogenic.
Today, an overwhelming number of people post photos of what they eat or drink after making or ordering it. A quick Instagram search of the hashtag “coffee” returns more than 145 million posts.
More and more coffee shops are prioritising the aesthetic appeal of their beverages as well as their premises.
Use presentable cups and crockery, ideally ones which match your café’s colour scheme. Many brands customise their equipment, with branded colours, an unusual or artistic look, and even hand-made equipment in some cases.