Cold Brews and Other Hot Trends

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Upscale your beverage business with any of these trends. Cold brews, premium tap beverages, and other on-trend new concepts can build repeat business.

Every food service operation serves beverages, but not everyone is able to attract customers’ attention, build repeat business, and reap extra profits by doing so.

Here are beverage trends to consider

Cold Brew Heats Up—According to Technomic Menu Clips, top coffee chains are heating up with cold brew, adding to their lineups with signature varieties that build on the success of the cold brew trend. This includes flavored specialties such as sweet-and-salted cold brews, which tap the sweet-meets-salty flavor trend, as well as ice cream-inspired coffee drinks like a cold brew float, made with cold brew coffee and vanilla gelato or ice cream.

In addition to taking off in specialty coffee outlets, cold brew has also become popular in restaurants and non-commercial settings—such as employee dining and colleges and universities—and in retail settings including c-stores. 

Using a cold brew coffee concentrate eliminates the time-intensive hassle of making this on-trend beverage, while still offering the quality consumers expect.

For more tips and ideas on how to leverage on-trend beverages, see below.

Premium Beverages on Tap—Another trend being called out by Datassential is serving nonalcoholic beverages on tap. This includes coffee, tea, juice, or kombucha, creating a premium experience that customers are willing to pay more for. Though tap sodas have always been staples—and a number of craft breweries dedicate a tap or two to a housemade root beer or cream soda—now operators are branching out, dedicating taps to other on-trend refreshments. This includes iced tea and juice on tap at fast casuals; kombucha on tap at a health-focused grocer or casual restaurant; or cold brew and Nitro coffee on draft at a specialty coffee shop, B&I, or college-and-university gathering spot.

Menuing selections on tap adds a premium quality to the nonalcoholic beverage experience, whether it’s a tap wall where customers can serve themselves (also easing up operations for staff) or a few options behind the counter. Putting beverages on draft also allows an operator or retailer to sell larger formats—like pitchers, growlers, or multi-portion takeout containers—of housemade drinks such as iced latte to boost the check average.

Signature Milkshakes—According to Datassential, the specialty ice cream trend is taking over, giving rise to over-the-top ice cream builds that beg to be Instagrammed—including not only sundaes but also milkshakes. Casual restaurants, in particular, can create a following with a rotating selection of premium shakes, with trendy signature flavors such salted caramel, tonka bean, and double chocolate. For added drama, frost the rim with chocolate sprinkles, cinnamon sugar or another sweet element, and garnish with the likes of whipped cream, chocolate drizzles, candy pieces or a chocolate-covered pretzel rod. 

New Uses for Juices—There will always be a place for juice on the breakfast menu or as a mixer in cocktails, but operators can boost their beverage sales by cross-utilizing juices in other applications.

  • Mix one or more juice flavors to create a signature blend
  • Create a refreshing Rickey or housemade soda by mixing citrus juice, lime, and club soda or sparkling water in a tall glass; garnish with a lime or orange wheel
  • Pair more unusual juices such as Passion Fruit Orange Guava or Citrus Peach with rum, vodka, gin, or sparkling wine to create a summertime or brunch cocktail specialty
  • Combine iced tea with lemonade or orange juice for a “half-and-half”
  • Freeze juice into an on-trend slushy or ice pop

Sources: Technomic Menu Clips, March 2017; Datassential FoodBytes, June 2015, “Tracking Beverage Trends”; Datassential FoodBytes, January 2017, “The Year in Trends”; Datassential On the Menu, February 2016, “Non-Alcoholic Beverages on Tap”