Café-Inspired Trends in Food & Drink

April 3, 2017
Beverage Dessert Flavor Trends

Click here to download the full report and see product launches!


With Millennials and Generation Z driving coffee consumption and innovation (“third wave” coffee drinks), cold brew trending as a premium ready-to-drink option, specialty tea shops on the rise, and seasonal latte flavors still causing national fervor each fall and winter, it’s clear coffee and tea flavors are extremely popular with consumers. So much so, we see these flavors popping up across categories in everything from protein shakes to oatmeal.

Let’s take a look at a variety of the café-inspired products and flavors seen on menus and store shelves today that take us beyond the office coffee pots.



The influence of coffee on food products goes beyond the beverage segment — coffee flavored products span the spectrum. We’ve spotted 611 coffee-flavored product launches between January 2012 and December 2016


1. Dairy-Based Frozen Products 13.9%/ 85

2. Non-Individually Wrapped Chocolate Pieces 12.3%/ 75

3. Sweet Biscuits/Cookies 8% /49



Espresso flavor showed growth over the past year with four launches in 2016. (There was one each in 2015 and 2014). New pairings include Dark Chocolate, Brownie and Cake.

We also saw cream flavor paired in products with flavors including vodka, bittersweet chocolate and chicory. It’s a natural pairing since cream and creamers are leading ingredients consumers add to their coffee: 38% of consumers add flavored creamer and 31% add cream. Approximately one in five use unflavored nondairy creamers. Sales of cream and creamers for coffee drinks have grown over the past 5 years, bringing in more than $5 billion.




●  The U.S. government’s Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee announced drinking up to five cups of coffee a day could be beneficial

●  “We saw that coffee has a lot of health benefits,” Tufts University Professor Miriam Nelson said. “Specifically when you’re drinking more than a couple cups per day.”

●  “Coffee’s good stuff,” Tom Brenna, a member of the committee and a nutritionist at Cornell University, said. “I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer — nobody thinks that,” he said. “But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”

●  The committee’s report says drinking three to five daily cups of coffee is not associated with long-term health risks and actually correlates with reduced risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.



About 70% of consumers want their cup of coffee to deliver additional health and wellness benefits or functionalities. Coffees that feature antioxidants, heart health, or multivitamin qualities resonate best with Millennials and Gen Xers. More than 10% of consumers are willing to pay more for coffee with these added benefits. Millennials are more likely to pay a premium than other generations, with more than 25% saying they’d pay more for functionality. Although consumers say they want functionality in their coffee, the stats show that such claims do not guarantee purchase over another coffee drink.



Despite coffee’s natural positioning as an energy boost, consumers are interested in coffees that can provide even greater forms of energy. In fact, energy is the top function consumers would like to see in coffee products, with 31% of consumers interested. Antioxidants, metabolism boost, heart health and immunity round out the top five. Protein makes the top-ten list, and we can see the combination of protein and coffee in two Sweet Biscuit/Cookie launches (the #3 top sub-category for coffee-flavored foods.)


Click here to download the full report and see product launches!




Outside of coffee itself, beer is the top sub-category to feature coffee flavor. In beer, coffee flavor often pairs with tastes like Vanilla, Chocolate, Toffee, Walnut and Citrus. Once of the most interesting new launches is Green Flash Cosmic Ristretto Baltic Porter with Espresso Beer. This toasty and smooth beer is made with roasted malts, espresso and Belgian candy sugar, giving it a rich, black appearance with bruleed edges and mocha-colored beer foam. It has a smooth espresso flavor and chocolate, coffee and sweet malt aromas.


● Of consumers who have purchased a coffee or tea beverage away from home in the past three months, 26% are interested in the option of ordering a coffee-based alcoholic drink.

● Washington DC’s Westend Bistro offers a Kentucky Cold Brew cocktail, mixing bourbon cold-brew coffee, Amaro liqueur, and chocolate bitters, while Betony in New York City features The Dude, mixing bourbon, rooibos cream, cold-brew coffee, and cascara.

● The Bound lobby bar in Las Vegas hotel The Cromwell goes beyond bourbon, and features an entire menu made of espresso cocktails served in a frozen traditional Italian moka pot (stovetop coffee maker). The Keep Me Awake Bro includes Peroni beer-flavored espresso, Botran Solera rum, Galliano liqueur, honey syrup, and spices, and the Negroni Svegliato mixes Martini Gran Lusso-flavored espresso, Tanquerey No. Ten gin, and Campari.




Expensive third-wave tea drinks are trending alongside coffee ones, and the Tea Association of the USA predicts tea sales will double in the next five years. About 42% of Americans under age 30 prefer to drink tea over coffee, and 27% of Millennials (ages 25-39) drink tea and never coffee.

Health and wellness might be the biggest driver for increased tea consumption. Eric Pfeiffer of RYOT says the evidence suggests the surge of tea popularity is part of a growing health consciousness, citing the fastest growing segments of tea sales as those with reported health benefits: green tea and artisan blends like oolong and white tea.



Tea’s popularity doesn’t end in the beverage sector. We’re seeing tea flavors pop up across a spectrum of categories from yogurt to snacks. Between January 2012 and December 2016, there were 183 food product launches with tea as a flavor. The year 2016 brought 67 of those launches, a 31% increase from 2015 and a whopping 180% increase from 2012.

One such launch is Vanilla Chai Quaker Oatmeal, one of the flavors in the Quaker Bring Your Best Bowl Flavor Variety Pack, containing consumer-created flavors. The creator of the Vanilla Chai flavor, Heather from Redondo Beach, CA, says: “My husband’s family is from India, and I have fallen in love with chai tea with a hint of vanilla for breakfast. Why not in my oatmeal, as well?”

Chocolate Tablets hold the top spot of tea-flavored foods in large part thanks to DavidsTea. In 2016 alone, they launched nine tea flavored chocolate bars including Just Peachy, Caribbean Crush (pineapple, papaya and cranberries), Cotton Candy and Caramel Corn. The 36 total launches over the time period represents a 425% increase from 4 launches in 2012 to 21 in 2016.

Coffee and tea categories continue to trend up with innovations and evolving interests such as health & wellness bringing new flavors and product opportunities to a variety of categories. Fans of these flavors have lots to choose from and lots of new combinations to look forward to!


Click here to download the full report and see product launches!



Let FONA’s market insight and research experts translate these trends into product category ideas for your brand. They can help you with concept and flavor pipeline development, ideation, consumer studies and white space analysis to pinpoint opportunities in the market. Our flavor and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. We understand how to mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution. From concept to manufacturing, we’re here every step of the way.


Sources: Mintel Menu Insights, Mintel Food & Drink, Mintel GNPD, Coffee Houses and Tea Shops, December 2015 Mintel, Coffee and Tea on Premise, US, December 2016, Snap Shot: Coffee Cocktails, Beth Bloom. December 2016,,,,,