Like everything in life, industries evolve. In the ultra-competitive coffee world, cafes, baristas, growers, and processors are always trying to come up with that “new thing” that is going to set them apart from everyone else. Sometimes a trend flashes in popularity and disappears, and other times it becomes the new normal.
Although my original draft list for this article had over 20 emerging trends in coffee, I will give you 7 that I believe are applicable to most people and have a good chance of becoming the future norm.
1. Green & White Coffee
If your friend starts telling you that she started drinking Green Coffee for its medicinal benefits and swears that it has put more pep in her step, let me give you a quick view into what she is talking about.
“Green Coffee” simply refers to unroasted coffee beans. While most people would prefer to roast these in order to make a familiar brew, the health world has latched onto a rising trend of boiling green coffee beans and drinking the liquid as a tisane.
Green coffee brews are high in chlorogenic acids, have a lot of anti-oxidants, and have been credited with anti-inflammatory properties, aiding in weight loss, easing of diabetes, and reduction of blood pressure.
A deeper dig into the trend will show that most studies have come back inconclusive, but that doesn’t change the minds of those who swear by it.
There are though some negative effects reported including loss of calcium in the body and over intake of caffeine. Please do your due diligence before using this new and as yet unproven “natural medicine.”
“White Coffee” is another animal altogether. Taking the same unroasted green beans, they are cooked at lower temperatures (around 325 degrees) and not allowed to reach the first crack. This results in a coffee bean with a light beige color that has a very different taste profile (nutty, acidic, non-bitter).
White coffees, while trending, are not new, deliver more caffeine, and more of the health benefits associated with coffee. White coffee is most commonly consumed as an espresso shot and sometimes is infused with spices.
If you are curious, keep on the lookout for these non-coffee coffees that are sure to be offered at a specialty café near you or available online.
2. Home Roasting is Booming
Buying green coffee and roasting it yourself is one of the most economical ways to enjoy coffee with the added satisfaction of saying that you cooked it yourself and that you can drink it during the peak of its freshness. In a way, this is a retro trend as our great-great-grandparents roasted their own coffee.
The modern twist is that there are a host of devices you can use to roast your own coffee readily available online, and endless YouTube videos of how to do it. A little courage and a little trial and error and you are an instant home roaster. Much easier than a home beer brewer.
A quick peek at the most popular home roasting devices will show you the wide range of price points and device types available.
In addition to home roasting, restaurants that want to demonstrate the prowess of their flavor creation talents have trended toward in-house roasting.
3. The Coffee List
In line with the previous snippet about restaurants roasting coffee in-house, the trend of presenting a Coffee List to the guest pre-dessert course in the way one would receive a wine list before the meal is rising in popularity at specialty restaurants around the world.
Seekers of Epicurean delights have often lamented that even at Michelin Starred restaurants you can have an amazing meal and a mind-blowing dessert with a mediocre cup of coffee. Not anymore.
A recent survey of the world’s top 50 Restaurants finds that these companies are reaching out to local roasters, sourcing higher-level beans, and offering a list with descriptions to patrons seeking to have the best of the best.
I found it interesting to note that at Mirazur, in Menton, France one of the world’s best restaurants, you can order 100% Kona Coffee served to you as an espresso shot from their Coffee List.
4. Coffee Subscriptions are the New Normal
Just like subscribing to Sports Illustrated or Newsweek to get your favorite content, you can now subscribe to coffees from all over the world.
You get to choose the interval, are guaranteed the freshest roast (literally roasted and shipped), and can adjust subscriptions from your phone in many ways.
In some cases, you choose the coffee and in other cases you “subscribe” to a roasting service and they send you coffee based on a profile that you create.
During the Pandemic, Amazon reported “Food & Beverage” as their fastest-growing category. Although coffee subscriptions have been around for over a decade, 2020 saw a near 30% spike in global online coffee sales, and subscriptions were a large driver of that number.
Dale Harris, the 2017 World Barista Champion, states that “it isn’t just the freshest coffee but the information that comes with the subscription, the understanding of the origin and the exploration of coffee from different regions of the world.” Through subscriptions, people are seeing coffee in a much more nuanced way.
Regardless, the Coffee Subscription trend is here to stay and you will see more and more people turn to these services once they understand the immense benefits.
5. The Rise of Coffee Tourism
We smile at this one as Greenwell Farms has been offering tours of our farm for over 15 years, but following the trend of getting a “behind the scenes” look at the various industries we take for granted coffee farms all over the world are realizing that tourists are eager to see “how things are done”.
This creates many benefits for the coffee farm as guests see and understand costs more readily, can bond with the farm and the farmers, and can become part of the farm’s extended fan base.
The guests on the other hand get a new experience, feel more connected and comfortable with what they are consuming, and feel that they are supporting people or small businesses rather than sending their money to corporate giants. It is truly a win-win.
The other aspect of coffee tourism is that it allows for farms to be creative with their products, offer a variety of classes like coffee cupping or extraction methods, even roasting. It is fun, interactive and many people have come to love these “factory tours” to the point where vacations are now created around these experiences.
6. The Multi-Extracted Household
When I was a child the Mr. Coffee drip-maker was the only extraction device in the house. Coffee was made the same way every day without exception.
The rise of espresso-based drinks (think lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas) has created a whole new industry for people to be able to make those drinks at home. The trend is toward being able to make a truly cafe level cup of coffee at home.
Professional coffee gear is more easily purchased by the home consumer and specialty brands like Chemex, Oxo, Baratza, and Breville have taken previously café only level gear and turned them into home appliances that produce exceptional coffee.
The National Coffee Association reports that most households now have at least three ways of extracting coffee at home.
Do you have a French press, a pour-over system, a Moka Pot, a drip maker, an aero-press, a siphon, espresso maker, percolator, drip bag, cold brewer, a Hario, a Phin dripper, a Kuerig machine, or a Nespresso VertuoPlus?
The real lesson in this is that people have come to see coffee in a more detailed way and know that each of these systems has a time and a place and creates slightly different results.
Fast or slow, ritual or convenience, the option now lies with the home coffee brewer and the mood that strikes them when they’re ready for a nice cup of joe.
7. Coffee Classes
If you haven’t heard of coffee cupping classes, it is similar to a guided wine tasting class that seeks to both educate you on “how to” evaluate the beverage while enjoying the drink. In a sense, it is a deep dive into what makes good coffee good and how to describe that experience. Even after one cupping class, you will never see coffee again in the same light.
A quick google search in your area will reveal dozens of ways to “learn” about coffee. How to judge it, how to brew it, and how to roast it are all popular class types. The trend here is to get to know your coffee on a deeper level.
These types of classes used to be more common on the West Coast but now a search of Atlanta, Chicago, and Kansas City reveal plenty of options for all Americans to acquire a deeper appreciation and understanding of specialty coffee.
I have never been one to follow trends, but I am heartened to know that more and more people are seeing coffee in a new light and learning to experience it at the highest level, which in the end will make a better experience for all of us!
About the Author
Matt Carter is a retired teacher (1989-2018), a part-time musician, farmer, and currently manages Greenwell Farms Tour and Retail Store Operations.