We Asked Experts About the Top Coffee Trends to Know Right Now

Find out what these industry leaders have been seeing and loving lately in the coffee space.

Cup of coffee on table with green overlay
Photo:

Jorn Georg Tomter / Getty Images; Design: Better Homes & Gardens

Coffee gets a lot of us through the day. For many, it’s even one of the first things we look forward to after waking up. Whether you prefer brewing a hot cup with your French press or grabbing a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, coffee is not just part of a routine—it’s a personal ritual and a way to connect with others. (Some may even call it a lifestyle.)

We spoke with three industry leaders on their thoughts on what the future looks like for this beloved beverage: Here are six coffee trends standing out to them right now. 

1. Ready-to-Drink

Since single-serve pods (like K-Cups) took over the coffee scene more than 10 years ago, people have shifted more toward ease and convenience to get their daily hit of caffeine. We aren’t just consuming coffee in the morning anymore, says Luke Schneider, founder and CEO of Fire Dept. Coffee. His company, which is run by a team of firefighters and first responders (and coffee aficionados), specializes in canned coffees you can store in your fridge. “Ready to drink is a big, growing category because people are wanting to drink it throughout the day and different parts of the day,” Schneider says. 

Josey Markiewicz, senior director of La Colombe Cafe, says customers have been enthusiastic about La Colombe’s cold brew fridge packs and lattes-in-a-can. 

“The greatest trends seem to be happening in the ready-to-drink space,” he says. “Everyone is racing to the supermarket shelves.”

2. Fruit-Forward Processing

Maryna Gray, director of coffee for coffee subscription service Bean Box, is a huge fan of processes that bring out the fruity, acidic flavors in beans—though, she acknowledges, these processes are sometimes considered a little controversial in the industry for being “too trendy.” 

The first time she tried one of these drinks, she was repeatedly blind tasting a range of coffees at a competition. While most of the different brews blended together, she recognized the specially processed fruit-flavored one each time she tried it. While there will always be those who solely crave a classic, rich cup, Gray believes the innovation in these processes will continue to expand and new flavor profiles will become more accessible and popular.

3. Speciality Flavors

It’s likely you’ve heard of pumpkin spice and cookie butter lattes, and you can expect to continue hearing about them—specialty flavors and syrups aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, especially seasonal ones. 

Related: The Fascinating Journey of How Pumpkin Spice Found Its Way into Our Lattes

“I think the innovation in coffee and the flavors that come out will continue to get better and better,” Schneider says. “I think we're seeing with our research that people [are] looking for new flavors to associate with those experiences and seasons.”

Markiewicz agrees and thinks the popularity of fun, tasty flavors is a response to living through COVID-19. “The pandemic was harder on our collective psyche than any of us probably care to admit, and I think that folks are happy to treat themselves now that we're all cruising back to the office and whatnot,” he says.

4. Improved Quality

Coffee is going to continue getting better, both in terms of how it’s made and how it’s consumed, Schneider says. This includes instant coffee. 

“Instant coffee has never been better,” Gray says. “There’s new steeped coffees that are like tea bags, and [that’s] more artisan coffee that has been preserved, so it's not meant to taste like instant coffee. There's even Cometeer, little frozen cups that you can buy and put in your freezer—that's super new. Instant coffee is no longer treated as a forgettable side of the coffee market.”

5. Spirit-Infused Coffees and Cocktails

After the espresso martini had its resurgence in 2021 (and continues to be a go-to order at bars and restaurants everywhere), it’s safe to say coffee cocktails are one of the biggest trends in the industry. Markiewicz is a fan—La Colombe even created their own specialty coffee cocktail, cleverly named the Daily Grind, complete with Off Hours bourbon, disaronno, maraschino liqueur, maple syrup, nutmeg, and a triple latte. 

Schneider has seen the trend come to life through his own company: Fire Dept. Coffee’s drinks infused with spirits, specifically their Irish Whiskey and Vanilla Bourbon flavors, have become a favorite among customers. 

6. Ethically Sourced, Sustainable, and Fair Trade

People are more aware of where their coffee comes from, and they want to be sure it’s made ethically and with sustainability as a priority. Because the pandemic had us making coffee at home, many people became more curious about the origins of what we were buying. Brand transparency has become increasingly important—knowing everyone is treated fairly throughout the whole process, from farmers to baristas.

“Now a lot of specialty coffees have the actual name of the family [who] grew it, and you can look them up and see their pictures, or you can see their farm, or you can see that they donate when you buy,” Gray says. “And I think that adds a really good feeling when you’re drinking that coffee, and you can see this connection that you have to someone so far away. And that makes it into a product that’s more relatable.” 

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