Top Coffee Trends of 2021

While businesses must limit their occupancy and implement social distancing solutions, the usual crowded coffee shop scene of studying students, remote workers, and laughing friends has temporarily faded from our view.

Coffee house culture may require short-term amendments, but one thing remains the same: people love coffee. As creative and cultural epicenters, coffee shops are navigating what it means to operate during a pandemic with persistence and ingenuity.

From international coffee drinks to subscription services, grab a cup of joe and dive into the top coffee trends of 2021.

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1. International Coffee Flavors

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Coffee lovers turned to the world wide web for coffee recipes during the pandemic, igniting their interest in international coffee flavors. We expect this trend to rise, with many Asian coffee drinks taking center stage as the caffeinated beverages of choice in 2021.

Dalgona Coffee

Dalgona coffee is a Korean whipped coffee trend first popularized on TikTok in March of 2020 and was shared by millions in the next 8 months. Dalgona coffee contains four ingredients: instant coffee, sugar, water, and milk. While Dalgona coffee is simple in its composition, its pleasing presentation of fluffy whipped coffee floating atop iced milk captured the public’s attention. Now that consumers have mastered basic dalgona coffee, specialty dalgona coffee recipes will emerge.

Dalgona Coffee Recipes Shaking up Menus in 2021

  • Dalgona Boba Tea: boba tea topped with whipped dalgona coffee.
  • Seasonal Dalgona: pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha and dalgona coffee hybrids.
  • Dirty Dalgona: a cross between a dirty chai and a dalgona coffee.
  • Dalgona Affogato: gelato topped with whipped dalgona coffee.
  • Ano Nuevo Horchata: a boozy horchata cocktail topped with dalgona coffee.

Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee is extra-fine ground coffee dissolved into water. Turkish coffee has a powerful coffee bean taste and is served in small, 2-2.5 fl. oz. Turkish coffee cups. To offset the overly extracted coffee bean flavor of Turkish coffee, you can offer a cold-water palette cleanser with a small, sweet item such as chocolate or Turkish delight.

How to Make Turkish Coffee

The key to making Turkish coffee is the powdery, Turkish grind consistency, which is not achievable by most burr grinders and requires an extra Turkish grinder tool. You can grind any coffee bean variety to a Turkish coffee consistency.


Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnam is the second leading exporter of coffee by volume, so it’s no surprise that Vietnamese coffee drinks are taking off as some of the hottest international coffee flavors of 2021. Most of Vietnam’s coffee beans are from the robusta species. Characteristics of robusta coffee beans include their double caffeine strength, increased acidity, and thicker mouthfeel. The preparation methods of Vietnamese coffee drinks ca phe trung (egg coffee) and ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee) offset robusta bean’s strong flavor and create beverages both coffee enthusiasts and novices can enjoy.

How to Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Ca phe sua da, which translates literally to "coffee milk ice", is the most popular Vietnamese iced coffee preparation method. To make Vietnamese iced coffee, pour a shallow layer of sweetened condensed milk into a cup and brew approximately 2 oz. of robusta coffee over it. Once the coffee is brewed, add ice and serve.

How to Make Egg Coffee

Vietnamese egg coffee (ca phe trung) is rich robusta coffee topped with a fluffy meringue composed of whipped egg yolk and sweetened condensed milk. This sweet, airy meringue can serve as a topper for either hot robusta coffee or iced coffee. For a truly authentic Vietnamese egg coffee, extract your robusta beans with a Vietnamese coffee filter, phin. If you don’t have a phin, you can use espresso or a strong pour over brewed coffee. If you cannot access robusta beans, French roast beans are the second-best choice for making egg coffee.


2. Easy Coffee Drinks to Make at Home

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With many coffee consumers working from home and more unable to lounge in their favorite coffee shop, there is a growing demand for easy coffee drinks to make at home. While some will hone barista skills to try different types of coffee drinks and craft international coffee flavors, the majority are looking for simple ways to simulate a high-end coffee house experience in 2021.

Instant Coffee

Throw out what you know about instant coffee, because bitter and stale are not on the menu in 2021. Consumer interest in instant coffee was building momentum before dalgona coffee, and instant coffee sales have skyrocketed since. However, instant coffee won't just be an ingredient in more complex drinks; it will be the main event. While consumers want the convenience instant coffee provides, they aren’t willing to sacrifice flavor. In 2021, businesses will compete to become the most trusted brand of organic instant coffee that is fair trade, delicious, and healthy.


Canned Coffee

In 2021 and beyond, canned coffee will replace soft drinks as consumers become increasingly health-conscious. As far back as 2018, marketing intelligence agency Mintel identified ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee as the fastest growing segment in the retail coffee market and the fastest growing nonalcoholic beverage product. Gen Z consumers (those born between 1995 and 2007) are the primary RTD coffee audience, with 46% of this age group purchasing RTD coffee. Gen Z consumers care about environmental impact, so 2021's RTD coffee will be made of recyclable materials.


Recyclable Coffee Pods

While many coffee drinkers appreciate the convenience of single-use pods, they’re also concerned about plastic pods' environmental impact. To stay relevant in 2021, coffee pod producers will address consumer concerns and supply recyclable coffee pods. We will also see several coffee pod subscription services emerge in 2021, allowing people to sample multiple roasts in the easy-to-use coffee pod form. When they use recyclable materials, coffee pod subscriptions turn three 2021 coffee trends, environmentally friendly products, home delivery, and convenience, into a single service.


3. Healthy Coffee

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Thanks to an increasingly health-conscious population, the trend toward healthy coffee will boom in 2021. Despite recent studies by the Harvard School of Public Health showing that coffee can reduce the risk of developing type two diabetes, some consumers hold on to outdated beliefs that coffee is unhealthy and seek coffee substitutes. Those who understand coffee's health benefits want to incorporate supplements and other nutritional boosters into their morning cup.

Coffee Substitute

While the theory that coffee is unhealthy is outdated, a scientific study showed that coffee consumption should not exceed four 8 oz. cups per day because of its high caffeine content. Many turn to coffee substitutes to replace their second (or third) cup of coffee. Others want a healthy beverage but don’t like the taste of coffee. These are the coffee substitutes everyone will be craving in 2021.

  • Matcha: Matcha is specially produced green tea leaves ground to a fine powder. You can make matcha lattes, frappuccinos, and lemonades.
  • Golden Milk Latte: A golden milk latte, or turmeric milk latte, is milk mixed with turmeric and spices such as cinnamon and ginger. Touted for its health benefits, golden milk is growing popular in Western cultures and has long been a staple in India.
  • Brewed Cacao: Roasting, grinding, and brewing cacao beans like you would coffee unlocks their rich nutrients and delivers a nourishing coffee alternative that tastes like a warm cup of dark chocolate.

Healthy Coffee Additives

Consumers who have up-to-date information on coffee’s inherent health benefits want to expand them. Since coffee is a part of many people’s daily routine, slipping healthy ingredients into their cup helps them ingest supplements. These are the healthy coffee additions people won't be able to get enough of in 2021.

  • Mushroom Coffee: Mushroom coffee is conventional black coffee mixed with medicinal mushroom powder. Mushroom coffee is valued as an antioxidant that aids digestion.
  • Turmeric Coffee: Turmeric coffee is perfect for those who want the health benefits of turmeric without giving up their coffee because turmeric coffee is brewed coffee with turmeric mixed into it.
  • Collagen Creamer: Collagen supplements will become a top 2021 trend for their positive effects on skin, gut, and joint health, and collagen creamers are a great way for health enthusiasts to incorporate a collagen supplement into their morning coffee routine. Additionally, collagen is an excellent source of protein, and busy people will turn to collagen creamer as a fast way to nourish themselves in the morning.

4. Coffee Subscription Boxes

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When you take Americans’ coffee consumption and buying habits into consideration, coffee subscription boxes just make sense. Approximately 79% of coffee drinkers consume coffee at home, and 45% of that group are using roasted coffee that is preground. More and more, coffee shops and roasteries will create subscription services and send customers personalized coffee deliveries. The most effective coffee subscriptions will cater to niche markets. Discover the top coffee subscription business models of 2021.

Unroasted Coffee Beans

Third-wave coffee enthusiasts know coffee beans only maintain their peak freshness 7-10 days after roasting. Subsequently, coffee drinkers are interested in roasting coffee at home and are eager to purchase unroasted coffee beans. Unroasted coffee bean subscription services will also sell home coffee roasting equipment, creating one-stop-shops for achieving the perfect extraction.


Single Origin Coffee

With travel plans interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, receiving single origin coffee beans from around the world is a fun way for coffee lovers to experience a taste of other cultures. Also, this coffee subscription business model is potentially the most profitable because coffee drinkers will pay nearly 200% more for coffee with a clear origin country. Single origin coffee subscriptions will provide information on the country the beans came from, as well as photos and snack pairings to create at-home destination experiences.


Local Coffee Roasters

Seeking fresh roasts, high-quality tastes, and more ethical business practices, coffee drinkers will pay 25% more for coffee from a premium local roaster. Coffee subscription services will capture this trend by curating a collection of local roasters. They may define local as anything from their metro area to their region. However, a quality service will make sure they're able to deliver freshly roasted beans.


Cold Brew Coffee Subscription

Cold brew coffee meets the demand for highly caffeinated and evenly extracted coffee, but it's time-consuming to make. Cold brew coffee subscriptions will streamline the cold brewing process by delivering cold brew pods, gallons, or half gallons based on customer’s preferences.


Of all the 2021 foodservice trends, new coffee trends create uniquely profitable business ventures. Approximately 83% of Americans drink coffee, and 64% drink coffee daily. Staying on top of coffee trends and learning how to market them to coffee’s many diverse consumers will help your business thrive in any climate, so keep calm and roast on.

By Corrinn McCauley | Coffee Shop Industry Trends to Watch in 2021 (webstaurantstore.com)
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