Ever since the documented emergence of coffee in the 15th century, this ubiquitous beverage has grown from being a somewhat peculiar drink enjoyed by remote Ethiopian monks to a fundamental staple of international food culture.
In today’s world, coffee has become a juggernaut of an industry, raking in hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue. When you think about the fact that coffee is the second-most sought-after commodity in the world behind crude oil, you really get a feel for just how massive the coffee industry really is.
So where is the coffee industry heading, and what types of trends are currently shaping the java world? Below are some of the most notable coffee industry trends to pay attention to this year.
1. Younger coffee consumers
The age demographic for coffee drinkers continues to get younger; in fact, the fastest-growing demographic of coffee consumers today is the 13- to-18-year-old age bracket.
As you probably have guessed, the somewhat “old-school” practice of drinking straight-up black coffee hasn’t held much appeal with younger audiences, so the coffee industry has responded by introducing a myriad of coffee-based concoctions that offer a sweeter and/or creamier flavor and texture.
For example, coffee shakes have absolutely exploded in popularity ever since they were added to the regular product lineup of popular coffee outposts such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, but they can also be found in smaller specialty bistros and cafes as well.
2. Cold crew coffee
When most people hear the phrase “cold brew coffee“, they imagine a beverage made of coffee that has been brewed hot, but then cooled down by pouring it over ice. This is actually known as “iced coffee”, and is not the same thing as cold brew coffee.
To make cold brew coffee, you simply place ground coffee in a container of cold or non-room-temperature water, and allow it to steep for anywhere between 12 to 24 hours. When it’s all said and done, you will have a container of freshly-brewed coffee that required no heat or special equipment to make.
Fans who swear by cold brew coffee will tell you that it offers a much smoother taste with a lower acidity level than its hot-brewed counterpart. The ease with which you can brew this wildly popular beverage has made it a smash hit with coffee shops and restaurants, as it can be prepared in bulk with very little hassle.
3. Superfood coffee (a.k.a. Super coffee)
It was only a matter of time before the nutritional beverage and coffee industries intersected, and this year looks to be the year when this unique collaboration will come to fruition.
Makers of super coffee beverages are basically taking many of the nutrients and superfoods that you would find in the average breakfast smoothie and putting them into your cup of joe.
For example, you could fuel up for the day by guzzling down a morning super coffee that includes protein powder, maca, various healthy spices, and other key nutrients.
4. Nitro coffee
This intriguing new trend is an offshoot of the craft brewing genre, and basically involves taking cold brewed coffee and infusing it with nitrogen gas. Similar to cold beer, nitro coffee is typically served from the tap, and it features a bubbly or frothy carbonated element that resembles the consistency of a stout or porter. With its rich, creamy texture and strong taste, nitro coffee has garnered a niche following all of its own.
5. WiFi-enabled coffee makers
The age of the “Internet of Things” has descended upon us, and one of the products of this revolutionary shift in technology has been the advent of “smart” coffee makers.
Instead of having to manually go through the process of brewing your cup of joe, you can now issue commands to your WiFi-enabled coffee machine through fully integrated smartphone apps.
You can set and save certain preferences such as brew strength, number of cups, etc., and when you’re ready to crank up your coffee maker, a simple tap of the screen will set everything in motion. How’s that for convenience?
There are dozens of other trends in the world of coffee that are definitely worth paying attention to, including barista courses, subscription coffee services, and the rise of extravagant latte art. The truth of the matter is that although the coffee industry has been firmly established for several centuries now, it has just recently arrived at a fascinating inflection point that will open up a world of new possibilities for java lovers of all stripes. Here’s to an exciting future for this uber-popular beverage!