What’s Hot This Season? Four Ways to Boost Hot Beverage Sales

Offering seasonal beverages makes good business sense. According to Technomic’s 2018 Beverage Consumer Trend Report,1 one-third of all consumers and 40 percent of customers in the 18 to 34-year-old age group say their beverage preferences change seasonally. Colder weather brings with it a desire to sip more robust, steamy beverages. This craving also results in 29 percent of foodservice customers being willing to pay slightly more for seasonal specialties. Examples include signature mochas with housemade marshmallows or flavored whipped toppings, luxurious lattes, and spirited winter warmers like coffee-spiked cocktails with spices.

If you’re looking for ways to build sales of coffee and tea drinks this season, here are some of the trends driving consumer decisions, along with a few inspirations for creating seasonal drinks.

  1. Put functional ingredients to work.
    Customers are 52 percent more likely to purchase antioxidant-rich drinks and 43 percent more likely to buy beverages containing probiotics (they aid digestion), according to the 2018 Technomic Beverage Consumer Trend Report.1 Enhance the already-healthy halo of coffee and tea by spicing up your beverage specialties. Wellness drinks, for instance, feature antioxidants or other wellness-promoting ingredients. Examples include lattes made with turmeric, which adds antioxidant properties.Or, kick up the intensity of your coffee and tea creations by offering plant-based ingredients such as nondairy milks and botanical flavorings. Functional botanical extracts and nondairy milks don’t have to be made from scratch, thanks to today’s wide range of available products, but they can be. Cafe Clover in New York City, for example, offers a matcha tea drink with housemade almond milk and raw honey. The Square Coffee Report 2018 notes that the most popular nondairy milks are, in order, almond, soy, oat, coconut, hemp, macadamia nut and pea.2
  2. Let beverage toppings express your creativity. Technomic reports that 31 percent of customers like to try new and unique beverages at restaurants.1 Garnishes have stepped into the beverage spotlight because they not only allow customers to customize coffee and tea specialties, but also reinforce the operation’s culinary creativity. Consider LTOs like holiday whipped-topping flavors (think eggnog and peppermint), or something as simple as a sprinkling of allspice or nutmeg.Lattes are the most popular coffee drinks in the U.S., and the average customer requests two add-ons with them, according to Square Coffee Report 2018.2  Lattes offer an opportunity to get creative. Examples of latte signature drinks at Crème and Sugar in Anaheim, Calif., include the English Rose with espresso, chocolate and rose; and the Pink Elephant shortbread latte garnished with circus animal cookies and nonpareils.
  3. Share the story of your beverage menu. Promote the variety and attributes that matter most to your own customers. Include details that speak to your beverage program’s quality and uniqueness. Call out sustainably sourced ingredients, and don’t overlook the freshness factor, since Technomic reports 67 percent of customers are more likely to purchase fresh-brewed beverages.1
  4. Offer hot drinks that have a sense of place.
    Ethnic authenticity has customer appeal. According to Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food and Beverage Consumer Trend Report, 24 percent of consumers say they are trying more unique ethnic foods and drinks than they were two years ago.4 When you’re looking for new spins on coffee and tea specialties, consider choices that reflect the global or regional inspirations on your menu. Thai Tea Latte at Fairgrounds Craft Coffee and Tea in Chicago combines cold brewed Thai black tea, sweetened condensed milk and simple syrup, and can be served hot or cold.

This winter season, tap into what’s hot to build your beverage business.From on-trend functional ingredients to comforting classics and a little creativity, now’s the time to capture consumer interest and drive sales.

[1] Technomic, Beverage Consumer Trend Report (2018), Infographic

2 Specialty Coffee Association, Introducing the 2018 Square Coffee Reports, 2017, www.scanews.coffee/2018/09/27/introducing-the-2018-square-coffee-reports/

3 Lancaster, Alaina, 6 Trends Driving Hot-Beverage Sales, CSP Daily News Mar. 27, 2018, https://www.cspdailynews.com/foodservice/6-trends-driving-hot-beverage-sales#page=1

4 Technomic, Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report, 2018