4 coffee trends to satisfy student cravings

snacking mobile phones coffee

From Keurig Green Mountain.

University students are on a quest to discover their own tastes and preferences, and that includes beverages — especially specialty coffees.

Study sessions are usually fueled with coffee, and plenty of it. Hard-working students look to break monotony with variety, and they also want to treat themselves. Limited time offerings of flavored coffees coupled with seasonal variations are one way to satisfy these cravings. Here are four ways to do so.

Seasons change

The most natural time to change up beverage menus is when seasons turn — 32% of consumers say their preferences tend to change depending on the season, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report. Consumers want to enjoy the bounty of spring and summer produce and are looking for light and lively refreshment. In fall and winter, they want warm and comforting flavors and festive drinks. Single-serve systems are perfect for accommodating these changing tastes, from coconut coffee in the spring to the ever-popular pumpkin spice for autumn.

Iced is nice anytime

Every season is right for iced coffee, at least for some consumers — around 10% of Americans get iced coffee every day, and iced coffee surpasses popular beverages like energy drinks, sports drinks, and others, according to Datassential’s Coffee & Tea Overview.

Purchasing impulses for iced coffee vary. Gen Z and Millennials are much more likely to purchase iced coffee for “energy/pick me up” occasions, while Gen X and Boomers are more likely to purchase iced coffee for “refreshment” or “treat” occasions, according to Technomic’s Beverage Trends Away from Home. For operators, iced coffee boasts high margins of 80+% as well.

A rising subcategory of iced is cold-brew coffee. This type of coffee is produced via longer brewing times using cold water that insures a smooth, full-bodied brew with less acidity. Cold-brew is hugely popular: mentions of cold brew on iced coffee menus have increased 56% year-over-year, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.

LTO means unlimited opportunity

Coffee LTOs are a terrific way to test market appeal of different coffee flavors. But how to discern which flavors are trending? Overall, the fastest-growing flavor is marshmallow, according to MenuMonitor, which has increased 55% year-over-year. That’s followed by berry, trending up 36% and honey, up 31%.

One good way to discover the next “it” coffee flavor is to monitor trends in other beverage segments to consider how they might translate to coffee. For example, confectionary flavors — whipped cream, cupcake and marshmallow, for example — are trending in other beverage categories. Glazed doughnut or cinnamon roll coffee flavors may appeal to these consumers.

Keep it simple

Offering unique and seasonal sips can keep coffee drinkers interested. And in the college and university segment, where coffee is a round-the-clock drink, that opportunity is huge.

Of course, college and university foodservice operators can research and create their own flavored coffees, but with large batches, maintaining consistent quality as well as keeping up with rotating LTOs can be challenging. That’s why many operators turn to single-serve brewing systems such as Keurig® for their coffee programs. This type of brewer especially makes sense on sprawling university campuses.

Because college coffee service goes far beyond the dining halls and retail foodservice outlets to encompass study centers, bookstores, athletic stadiums and catering venues, as well as administrative offices, break rooms and professors’ lounges, these single-serve brewing systems fit every need and nook on campus.  And with single-serve cups, operators can satisfy a broad customer base and accommodate every daypart.

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