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The average coffee consumer breaks down into two uniquely distinct categories: The Indulgers and The Purists.

4 Coffee Trends to Watch in 2022

Manufacturing expertise and industry knowledge is crucial to crafting the right program. 

The coffee bean is a complex crop consisting of various elements that impact the taste, smell, quality and format of a finished cup of coffee. To craft the perfect beverage program, foodservice operators should understand the selling points of the coffee that they offer, the best way to serve it, and how it fits into the trends that today’s consumers are craving.

To uncover ways coffee can help operators increase profits, let’s dive into the top trends that make up the future of coffee.

  • Types of Coffee Drinkers
  • Growth of Cold Coffee
  • Global Flavors
  • Sustainability Matters

Two Types: Indulgers or Purists

When it comes to enjoying coffee, there are thousands of ways to personalize it, but in general the average coffee consumer breaks down into two uniquely distinct categories: The Indulgers and The Purists. Indulgers see coffee as a treat and expect their cup to include milk, foam, chocolate powders, you name it. They are the latte, cappuccino, and macchiato drinkers of the world and like having that special ingredient added to their drink. The Purists, on the other hand, view their coffee as a treat in and of itself. They explore the subtle nuances of high-quality coffee and love learning about the different properties that each cup delivers. No need for creams or sweeteners for this bunch—the natural acidity, nutty, fruity or flower notes are enough for them.

OPERATOR TIP: Providing offerings that are both less likely to be prepared at home and can be enjoyed on-premise is a wonderful way to drive sales and build a long-term customer relationship. Bundling your drinks with additional offerings can further increase sales. Some ideas include an easy point-of-purchase snack, a coupon with a to-go order or a simple personalized thank you note.

Cold Coffee Demand

Although hot coffee is still the most widely consumed format, cold coffee is rapidly rising in popularity, especially among younger Millennial and Gen Z consumers. As iced tea has replaced traditional hot tea as the go-to drink for younger generations, many have projected that in the next decade, cold coffee will outpace hot coffee as the format of choice. Much like iced tea, cold coffee allows for customizability with milks, alternative sweeteners and unique flavors and helps to expand the daypart consumption timeframe.

OPERATOR TIP: Cold coffee can also be customized to be enjoyed in different dayparts as either a traditional breakfast drink, a lunch time treat, or during dinner as part of a happy hour cocktail, helping to drive consistent traffic throughout the day.

Global Influence

Having access to global flavors is considered table stakes for the younger generations when it comes to their food, and we’re finding that the same experimental approach applies to the coffee category as well. While older generations still gravitate towards traditional drip coffees, the growth of global and regional coffee cultures is showing us that future generations of coffee drinkers will expect a more varied coffee menu that consists of flavors such as unique fruits, spices and untraditional ingredients.

Premium coffee is frequently associated with very specific countries, but we are seeing improvement in crop quality grown in a variety of different regions. It’s even possible that you will start seeing coffee inspiration on menus that originates from places like Australia, Mexico, Vietnam, and Sweden. Eastern Africa, notably Ethiopia and Kenya, has shown promise in producing coffees that have become highly regarded by coffee consumers.

OPERATOR TIP: A great way to add education and increase value to your coffee menu is to include unique origin stories to your menu descriptions – farm to table stories sell!

Sustainability & Transparency

Sustainability has become a buzzword in recent years, but the long-term economic, environmental, and social health of those in the coffee industry are of vital concern to everyone involved – including operators. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of where their coffee comes from and are invested in making sure that they’re purchasing a product that gives back to the people and community who are responsible for cultivating it.

OPERATOR TIP: Being able to speak about sustainability can go a long way toward building customer loyalty. Showcase stories and statistics in marketing to help build trust with your customer base and communicate a sustainability story with short, simple messages.

As an operator taking the steps to understand the future of coffee, you are headed in a profitable direction that will help your establishment appeal to customers today and into the future. When looking to enhance your beverage offering, be sure that the partner you choose has the manufacturing expertise and industry knowledge needed to help you craft a program that meets the needs and interests of your customer base.

Emily Wood Bowron is the VP of Strategic Marketing at Red Diamond, Inc. in Birmingham, Alabama. Bowron has worked tirelessly to grow and raise the profile of the 115-year-old, prominent Birmingham-based coffee & tea company. With the execution of successful marketing strategies, Bowron has helped secure a dedicated customer base, propelled new product development and managed sales launches that have help build the Red Diamond® brand. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Emily Wood has exhibited a stellar talent for overseeing and collaborating on facets from marketing and manufacturing to distribution and sales.