Drinks in Cups

Chef's Corner: Staying Ahead of Coffee Trends

Eleonora, Lahud, Research Chef, Domino Foods, Inc.

Eleonora has a degree in Food Science and is a Certified Baker from the American Institute of Baking, with management studies in Barcelona, Spain. She has experience working with leading global food companies in research & development, technical sales, consumer engagement and catering.

Staying Ahead of Coffee Trends

What seasonal trends are you seeing in the coffee category?

During fall, it’s all about pumpkin. It’s everywhere: on the streets, in offices, on Instagram®. This year Starbucks® launched their Pumpkin Spice Latte as early as August and have even added Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. Cinnamon Sugar and Maple flavored drinks are also gaining in popularity in operations everywhere. At Peet’s Coffee®, they are introducing their new Honey Harvest Latte, which they describe as having “a warm honey sweetness with a subtle smokiness.”

How do you see cold brew playing a role in sales?

Cold brew coffee is stronger than traditionally brewed coffee and presents lower bitterness and acidity, which appeals to a younger demographic. The cold brew trend, and the nitro coffee trend in general, are anticipated to rise. Cold brew drinkers also tend to not add cream to their cold brew but, because they see it as a healthier option, will add sweeteners that convey naturalness, like brown sugar and pure cane sugar.

Chilled Rose Chai Latte

Are certain coffees more popular during certain dayparts?

Stronger coffees like espresso tend to be more popular during morning hours. Iced coffees tend to be more popular later in the day and serve more as a sweet “treat-myself” refreshment.

What sweetener trends are you noticing among coffee drinkers?

Flavored syrups are very popular in that they allow the consumer to personalize their drink. We also see demand for brown sugars like turbinado that not only add sweetness but also add an extra layer of depth to one’s coffee.

Why does vanilla continue to be so popular?

It’s really a global thing. Vanilla is one of the most popular and recognized flavorings in the world. It offers a highly fragrant flavor and adds depth, warmth and roundness to almost any sweet food or beverage. Vanilla has a strong flavor profile that creates memory association that reminds consumers of home and comfort.

What is in store for after-dinner coffee drinks?

In Europe and other parts of the world, coffee is an after-dinner staple. Here in the U.S., coffee is associated more as a daytime beverage because of its caffeine content. There is certainly a great opportunity in the coffee cocktail segment with recipes like Irish coffees, espresso martinis, and Carajillo growing in popularity.

Irish Mocha

Are you seeing coffee drinks being considered as functional beverages?

Coffee can be defined as a functional drink in that it is perceived to provide health benefits and other desirable effects. Consumers are starting to see more coffee brands marketing the drink’s antioxidant properties. When operators leverage this messaging and serve coffee with plant-based milks and turbinado sugar, it can boost the image of the purposefulness of coffee.

Who is driving the demand for sweeter, more unique coffee offerings?

It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen-Zers are looking for coffee drinks with unique flavors and sweeteners.  Also, driving this growth are Hispanic Americans – in the U.S., they have the highest rate of coffee consumption.4 A beverage that originated in Hispanic cuisine but is now trending into the mainstream is the horchata. Here’s a recipe idea for your coffee program which brings the rich sweeteness of the horchata to cold brew coffee.

4. Source: NCA 2019 Report


Horchata Cold Brew Coffee

(1 serving)


  • 6 oz. Cold Brew Coffee
  • 6 oz. Rice Milk
  • 3 pumps Tate + Lyle® French Vanilla Beverage Syrup
  • Generous dash of cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a 16 oz. cup, add ice and enjoy.

Horchata Cold Brew Coffee

Download this recipe.

baked goods

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