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Coffee and tea trends lean functional, health-conscious

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Americans love coffee and tea that not only tastes great and feels indulgent, but also has a perception of being healthy without any of the downsides.

If you’re sipping a hot or iced coffee right now, you’re not alone. According to the National Coffee Association, Americans are drinking more coffee than ever, and the average coffee drinker is fueling up with over three cups per day.

At the same time, drive-through indulgences are causing a spike in premium beans and espresso-based beverages, as well as cold brew and nitro coffees, even if consumers are preparing their cup at home.

But Americans’ best-loved brews aren’t limited to coffee. As people spend more time at home, Euromonitor suggested they’re putting on the kettle and enjoying herbal and other calming loose and bagged teas to take the edge off pandemic-related stress.

Food & Beverage Insider spoke with experts from three brands—Danone (STōK), Kitu Super Coffee and Tea Drops—about the trends that will keep consumers reaching for their favorite cuppa.

Food & Beverage Insider: What are some of the top clean label trends impacting the coffee and tea market right now?

Jimmy DeCicco, CEO, Kitu Super Coffee: We're seeing two main health trends in bottled coffee today: sugar-free and plant-based. The days of coffee flavored with milk and sugar are behind us as consumers don't want all of the sugar and calories that make their traditional lattes taste so good; however, consumers still want creamy indulgence. Natural, plant-based sweeteners like monk fruit and stevia are replacing sugar in many high-growth coffees and teas like Super Coffee and Zevia. Additionally, consumers are shying away from traditional dairy creamers and embracing plant-based alternatives like almond milk, oat milk and pea protein. The key is making modern-day coffees taste delicious without the extra calories or sugars seen in mainstream beverages today.

Sashee Chandran, founder and CEO, Tea Drops: One of the most exciting new trends is with boba/bubble teas. We launched our first Boba Tea Kit in 2020, and right out of the gate it was an instant success. Our customers loved the ease of buying it online, and creating their own exceptional, premium boba/bubble tea experience at home.

Adaptogens are considered to have health benefits, and demand for them continues to grow. Many mainstream, legacy tea brands have launched new wellness lines, which reflects consumer demand for health-oriented products. Matcha is another exciting trend which continues to grow, and still has significant room for expansion. The health benefits associated with matcha tea are becoming more widely known, which aligns with the consumer’s commitment to personal wellness. Standout ingredients related to these trends include hibiscus, ginger [Zingiber officinale], turmeric [Curcuma longa], rose hips [Rosa canina], mushrooms, fruit-infused teas, matcha and of course the meteoric demand for boba/bubble tea.

Food & Beverage Insider: Are there any new innovations or trends on the horizon that can help brands capture increasing demand?

Andrew Hartshorn, senior vice president, Beverage Creations (including STōK, International Delight Iced Coffee and others), Danone North America: Overall, consumers will continue to look for customization in all the key areas (roast level, origin and add-ons) and authenticity in the way they are delivered. There will also be a continued interest in getting what the consumers believe to be the health benefits of coffee and tea, without any of the downsides. The STōK consumer, for example, always puts quality coffee first, and add-ons like seasonal flavors, cream and sugar are secondary to the low-and-slow cold brew.

To read this article in its entirety, check out the “Steeped in innovation: Coffee and tea go beyond energy” digital magazine.

Melissa Kvidahl Reilly is a freelance writer and editor with 10 years of experience covering news and trends in the natural, organic and supplement markets. She lives and works in New Jersey.

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