Top 5 beverage trends decanting for 2024

Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) mushrooms spicing up coffee, molecular filters extracting unwanted flavors and fermented drinks reshaping the cultural landscape. These are just a few of the trends and technologies currently being explored in the beverage industry.

Scott Miller, Staff writer

December 20, 2023

4 Min Read
mushroom coffee

At a Glance

  • Mushrooms and other functional ingredients will continue to bloom, but not without safety concerns.
  • Kombucha will keep leading the charge among fermented beverages.
  • Flavor balancing technology is preparing to smooth out those undesirable undertones.

As we sip champagne to usher the old year out, 2024 glistens in its glass like the next big beverage awaiting imbibement. And it’s shaping up to be quite a year for potables (alcoholic and nonalcoholic alike), whether you’re putting mushrooms in your coffee or filtering unwanted flavors out of your spirits. Here are our top 5 beverage trends to look out for in 2024.

Mushrooms will power up your coffee

According to 2023 Gallup research, 5% of U.S. adults consider themselves either vegetarian or vegan, and when it comes to veggies, it’s hard to outshine the hearty and versatile mushroom. Mushrooms are booming worldwide, even earning “ingredient of the year” from New York Times in 2022. Now fungi could be coming to a coffee cup near you, but don’t fret—these mushrooms, usually medicinal varieties such as lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) or reishi (Ganoderma sichuanense), are dehydrated and pulverized into powder before being added to ground coffee beans. This provides a less-caffeinated brew and could even have health benefits due to compounds called adaptogens, which may improve stress responses, reduce cancer risk and more. Despite its trending status, this kind of coffee is nothing new; mushrooms were reportedly used in Finland as a coffee substitute during World War II.

“Booch” paves the way for other fermented beverages

Kombucha has been gaining popularity for years due to its various health benefits (and the new flavors constantly hitting the market), and it might be opening the market to other fermented beverages as well.

“Kombucha is the most mainstream it’s ever been in regard to fermented and functional beverages,” Sam Walker, cofounder of Walker Brothers Beverage Company, said. “I think there’s more of a mass understanding of the functional benefits, and people are paying more attention to gut health … they are more willing to try fermented beverages.”

So, what’s up next? Is it kvass, a barely alcoholic European concoction of rye bread and berries, or maybe tepache, a fermented pineapple rind drink popular in Mexico? Whatever booms in 2024, one thing is clear: The future is fermented.

Functional beverages continue to rise—but so will safety concerns

As consumers flock to beverages that offer more bang for their buck, from immune system support to sparkling energy boosts, new and unique offerings will continue to emerge. One example is Kava 2.0, which creator Mitra9 has dubbed “the ultimate relaxation beverage.” Kava is a Pacific Island root crop renowned for its stress-reducing properties—and its earthy, bitter flavor, which Mitra9 claims to have eliminated. Safety concerns, however, persist for many functional ingredients. Some countries, for example, have banned kava due to possible adverse health effects. Cofounder Dallas Vasquez stresses that Mitra9 sources kava only from trusted suppliers with strict quality standards and uses extraction methods that enhance purity while minimizing unwanted compounds. He also emphasized that the jury’s still out in the research, with some studies suggesting kava may possess beneficial properties.

Food safety talks will concern nonalcoholic adult beverages, too

A recent study funded by Cornell University and USDA suggested that nonalcoholic beer may require additional food safety measures, such as pasteurization or added preservatives, to ensure the safety of the product. This is due to the absence of alcohol, which traditionally functions as a preservative, and means other nonalcoholic adult beverages—such as low- or no-alcohol spirits and wines—should be held to a similar standard. Fortunately, many brewers and distillers already ensure such precautions are part of their quality control process.

“As a noncarbonated soft drink, which fundamentally zero-alcohol spirits are, it does require a level of preservation,” Kerr Nicholl, production director and cofounder of Spirits of Virtue, said. “It’s an extensive testing process … we’ve put an awful lot of time and consideration into that, and we believe we have the right balance.”

Flavor balancing tech will make drinks taste even better

Eliminating unwanted flavors is the holy grail of beverage technology, but luckily, the tech already exists. True Essence Foods, an Indianapolis-based food technology startup, offers options for flavor balancing and flavor symmetry. The latter involves a low-heat dehydration process that concentrates flavors and improves shelf stability, while the former uses a pressurized system to remove molecules associated with undesirable off-notes. True Essence Foods is currently collaborating with more than 40 companies on research, development and implementation.

“One industry in which we see incredible, imminent potential is the spirits industry,” True Essence Foods Founder and CEO Matt Rubin said. “We see our technology solutions rapidly expanding in 2024 through implementation with customers around the globe.”So, prepare for better-tasting spirits (and other beverages) in the new year.

About the Author(s)

Scott Miller

Staff writer, Food & Beverage Insider

Scott Miller brings two decades of experience as a writer, editor, and communications specialist to Food & Beverage Insider. He’s done a little of everything, from walking a beat as a freelance journalist to taking the Big Red Pen to massive technical volumes. He even ran a professional brewing industry website for several years, leveling up content delivery during an era when everyone had a blog.

Since starting at Food & Beverage Insider, he’s written pieces on the price of greenwashing (and how to avoid it), debunked studies that served little to no purpose (other than upsetting the public) and explained the benefits of caffeine alternatives, along with various other stories on trends and events.

Scott is particularly interested in how science, technology and industry are converging to answer tomorrow’s big questions about food insecurity, climate change and more.

Subscribe and receive the latest insights on the healthy food and beverage industry.
Join 30,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like