Coffee Trends, Teas and Flavors: What’s Hot & What to Stock

When it comes to pleasing coffee and tea drinkers in your office, we’re steeped in research and brimming with ideas.

You know those people.  They like their coffee straight up, diner-style, right out of a paper cup like a detective on a stakeout. Then, some make a production out of it. It's a part of their morning ritual. They like pouring the creamer, the stir-in of sweetener. Others are all about the latest coffee trends and must-try teas. They’re not about to settle for anything that isn't trending with a hipster hashtag.

What do you do if you're charged with warming the hearts, minds and mugs of all these good people? How do you make everyone happy and stay up-to-date with beverage and coffee trends? Not to mention, make sure you’ve got the standbys for those who like their coffee more retro? It's a tall order.

The old-school coffee purists are pretty chill when it comes to trends.  So, stick to the basics and you're all set there. What about ideas for coffee and tea connoisseurs? One way to win over this group is to add some seasonal spice to the mix or trending products.

It’s not breaking news, but it bears repeating: You've got to be all things to all people in the break room. But, we’re here to help.

Coffee Trends

Our partner, Segafredo Zanetti, says our tastes are evolving toward a preference for single-origin coffees with fresh flavor and tasting notes.  Beans from Costa Rica (“bright, creamy, and balanced”) are distinct from those in Kenya ("clean, floral, and aromatic").

To please everyone's evolving taste buds, Keurig pioneered single-serve technology to do just that.  The best part? It offers all the choices available to coffee drinkers who may favor a particular flavor. A recent article in the industry watcher, Store Brands, notes that single-serve is the best-performing type of equipment in the market.  And, good news for the planet - manufacturers are taking steps to reduce waste by offering compostable and recyclable pods.  They are also offering fair-trade and Rainforest Alliance-certified products.

Another coffee trend making waves is cold brew. In an office setting, cold brew coffee can command its own do-it-yourself bar, complete with its own mixology – soda, tonic water and even lemonade are among the popular additions to the drink.

Tea is Trending, Too

In tea, matcha and turmeric are making headway among more traditional blends. In addition to producing vividly colorful drinks, these newcomers boast big flavors. Many tea companies are offering turmeric-centric herbal tea blends with spicy flavor profiles. Turmeric teas are widely believed to offer a range of health benefits because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, adding to their appeal.

Matcha, on the other hand, is a Japanese green tea that's ground into a powder, which gives it a bigger caffeine kick than your usual steeped green tea. Like turmeric, matcha is also known for its health benefits, primarily for its antioxidant qualities that inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Here’s something else to smile about – its magic ingredients may even attack microbes that cause tooth decay. Plus, some Chinese medical research shows matcha is a heart-healthy beverage as well.

If these health benefits of tea haven't inspired you yet, how about this fact? Research shows 87 percent of the millennial generation drinks tea, slightly above the national average. Green and white teas are among the most popular.

Making a Splash

New creamers are emerging as innovators seek alternatives to dairy products. Creamers derived from soybeans, oats, coconuts, and almonds are increasingly popular. Bringing them in sends a signal to your team that you value their commitment to wellness and dietary needs. Anyone for a shot of cashew-pepita milk in their artisanal blend?

Seasonal Flavor Trends

Now that we’ve covered coffee and tea trends, what about the changing seasons?  Many of us realized that fall would never be the same again once pumpkin spice hit the scene. And it’s still on a roll. Data analytics giant the Nielsen Company says sales in 2018 are up 12 percent from last year, earning its nickname “America's favorite fall flavor.”

In addition to pumpkin-spice, fall calls for hints of apple, too. Then, try something a little more brisk for winter like peppermint, or comforting like caramel. Don't forget about gingerbread, eggnog and pinecone-mistletoe (not that last one, but you never know what people are into these days).

There are all kinds of exotic offerings from all corners of the world that hit their peak at different times of the year. For example, Green Matcha is a big hit for St. Patrick's Day.

More Advice

Here are some other tips you may want to consider when spicing up your company's beverage options:

  • Ask yourself what percentage of your beverages should be seasonal/trendy? We recommend a 25% rotation a couple of times a year.
  • Creamers and syrups -- Keep your basics like French Vanilla, Hazelnut and Original and then add one seasonal choice per rotation.
  • There are lots of new sweeteners on the market like agave nectar and coconut sugar, so try adding one to the lineup.
  • Always look to bring in new choices, especially if you think something sounds interesting with food, but don’t forget to stock your core items.
  • If your mix is always something new and different, it's too much. Some people are creatures of coffee (and tea) habit, and you have to appeal to them, too.

When it comes to finding just the right mix of coffees, teas and other hot beverages, as well as the goodies to jazz them up, we can help you build the right level of rotation. We offer samples and can set up a quarterly tasting to keep you up-to-date on the trends, the tried and trues, and all the flavors of the seasons.

Need some help? No problem! We've got something to satisfy everyone in your office. Get in touch with us to learn how we can spice up your break room offerings.