Cold Brew: What’s Hot is Cold!

Cold Brew is undoubtedly the hottest trend going in today’s coffee segment. With menu mentions up nearly 500% in Foodservice and sales growing 53% at retail, Cold Brew has clearly made its mark. Which begs the question, why – and what’s next?

For one, Cold Brew has captured the attention of the coveted Millennial consumer. In our recent Cold Brew Coffee Insights study, we found that 84% of younger consumers had tried the beverage, significantly higher than those aged 55+. Consumers also indicated that flavor and smoothness were key attributes driving appeal.
Non-trial is most often driven by unfamiliarity: what will it taste like? To address this challenge, coffee shops highlight key Cold Brew benefits, such as smoothness and flavor. “Slow-steeped for a smooth, less acidic taste” and “smooth flavor without acidity” are perfect examples.
Our team recently traveled to the west coast to further explore emerging trends. While Nitro, Cold Foam and “Fog” variations are seen more frequently, we also noticed shops featuring progressive variations such as carbonated Cold Brew and Coffee Soda. New flavors are also gaining: healthy notations such as Coconut, Almond, and “Energy”; regional callouts such as Vietnamese and NOLA with chicory; and decadent flavors, like Maple Pecan, Pumpkin, and White Chocolate.

We also observed the similarities between Cold Brew and specialty beer positioning. “On tap”, “Cold Brew Bar”, and “inspired by dark chocolate stout” callouts link the category closely with specialty brews, which may also explain the strong male appeal we found in our recent research study.
What’s next remains to be seen, but we expect further growth in flavors to widen appeal, as well as an emergence of interesting descriptions to further differentiate – and explain – the category.