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The number of consumers choosing chilled coffee, both at and out-of-home, is booming. 75% of US Starbucks orders in Q2 of 2023 were cold and similarly in South Korea in 2022, 76% of orders coined the phrase “iced Americano, even if I freeze to death”.

The numbers don’t lie, cold-brews are having a moment. So let’s dive into what we need to know about the trend and how to make the most of it. 

26% of cold coffee consumers in the US say they drink it throughout the year, showing chilled drinks appeal all- year-round, no matter the weather. In 2022, the cold brew version of Starbucks famed Autumnal Pumpkin-spiced Latte outsold the hot version for the first time. Leaning into the popularity of cold brews, US chain Dunkin’ launched a cold brew tumbler emblazoned with the slogan ‘Winter Warrior’.

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Sip, sip, share

Some attribute cold coffee’s explosion to its heightened visual appeal. Clear cups, bright colours and various toppings in iced drinks make them highly attractive for social media posts.

Whilst cold drinks are not only popular with Gen Z, but it’s also the members of this demographic cohort that often post images of their favourite brew on digital platforms. And in turn this group that have the most influence on others – inspiring each other and their next purchases.

Over 10billion views for TikTok videos tagging #icedcoffee and over 3million Instagram posts with the same hashtag prove the popularity of the drinks across social media platforms. 

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Customisation is king

It is on social media that consumers share their favourite customised combinations and hacks - customisation now emerging as a significant trend across the industry (you’ll also see it mentioned relating to the fun coffee trend here).

Howard Schulz, Starbucks CEO, said the “modifiers” for cold brews – like syrups, puree and fruit pieces – yield a “virtuality unlimited range of taste, flavour and colour profiles.”. This means the brand can serve many different ‘need-states’ while creating opportunities for self-expression. 

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Schultz went on to say how this customisation and ‘modifiers’ that are raising the ticket price. The modifiers produce colour, excitement and something people immediately want to share online. 

The impact of this trend is significant - “We have never been, in our history, more relevant than we are today to Gen Z,” he said. “And to me, that cohort is so powerful and the attachment rate that we have with them and the loyalty is just building.”

Chilling at home

These drinkers are enthusiastically consuming brews at home. Seeing a huge opportunity, coffee machine giant Keurig has launched K-Iced, a machine designed to make both cold and hot coffee. Ramping up on the enjoyment factor, it also launched pods in flavours like Original Donut Shop Iced Duos Cookies & Caramel and McCafe Iced One Step Mocha Frappe, designed to be consumed cold.

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With the number of consumers choosing cold coffee over hot throughout the year, it’s time to start seeing it not just as a seasonal special but a core menu product. And as customisation continues to grow as a key reason for sharing and inspiring others, if your brands has coffee on the menu how can you add an element of personalisation to your guests orders? 

Our F&B consultants can help advise on building the perfect menu for your guests to maximise cost per head and increase brand loyalty. Get in touch to discuss your brands coffee needs. 

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