Prepared Foods showcases new ready to drink coffee and tea products debuting in January 2019.


Seasonal Snacks, Sips

PepsiCo, Purchase, N.Y., marked the holiday season with limited-time snacks and beverages for consumers to share with friends and family. Among the LTO offerings are ready-to-drink tea and coffee beverages.

Debuting late in 2018 was Pure Leaf Apple Cider Flavored Iced Tea, in addition to Mtn Dew Merry Mash-Up, Mtn Dew Ice Cherry, and the bubly holiday pack. Authentically brewed with black tea and apple cider, PepsiCo’s Pure Leaf Apple Cider Flavored Iced Tea (pictured) is a first-ever, limited-edition seasonal variety sold exclusively at Target. It’s sold in a 59 fl. oz. bottle for $2.59. 

One returning seasonal favorite was a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Ready-to-Drink Iced Latte. Officials say the café-inspired, RTD Starbucks Iced Peppermint Mocha Iced Latte combines bold espresso and milk with the cheery flavors of chocolate and peppermint—all wrapped in a festive, single-serve package. A 14-ounce single-serve bottle carries a suggested retail of $2.79.

Inspired by the seasonal handcrafted favorite, PepsiCo also offers Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Iced Espresso Classic. Officials say this at-home drink combines Starbucks espresso and milk with cheery flavors of peppermint and chocolate. A 40 fl. oz. multi-serve bottle carries a suggested retail of $4.99.


Mushroom Benefits

Granum Inc., Seattle, expanded its Choice Organic Teas line—and a Mushroom Wellness Teas collection—with a new Shiitake Oolong Mushroom Wellness Tea. 

Fair Trade Certified, Non-GMO Project Verified, and always organic, Shiitake Oolong was formulated to promote a healthy metabolism and support immunity, the company says. The tea pairs shiitake mushrooms with synergistic herbs ashwagandha and eleuthero root—plus invigorating oolong and smoked black tea for an aromatic, savory taste. 

Officials say shiitake encourages normal immunity and stimulates metabolism. Eleuthero root and ashwagandha support endurance and a balanced stress response. Last but not least, oolong and lapsang souchong tea help boost energy and provide antioxidants.

Says Granum, “It’s a rich and smoky cup with seductive hints of umami, sure to motivate and inspire.”

Officials said a Bastyr University master herbalist helped formulate the new offering, as well as the entire Wellness Teas collection. The teas are classified as Herbal Dietary Supplements (HDS), indicating that the product has met FDA standards for quality and testing. All the teas are certified organic by QAI for USDA Organic certification.

Shiitake Oolong is available to purchase at Choice Organic Teas’ website. The rest of the Wellness Teas collection, including the entire Mushroom Wellness Teas line, are offered in retail at the price of $5.49 and are available online and at independent natural retail stores nationwide.


Shot in the Dark

Less than two years after launching its first bottled iced coffee beverages, Dunkin’ Brands Group, Canton, Mass., introduced Shot in the Dark coffee espresso blend, the brand’s first coffee beverage served in a can. 

Delivered in a special slim can, Shot in the Dark delivers Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with a touch of cream and sugar—combined with espresso for a full-bodied, rich, smooth coffee espresso blend. Offered in three fan favorite flavors—Caramel, Mocha and Vanilla—each 8.1oz can of Shot in the Dark contains 80 calories. Shot in the Dark can be found in select retail locations, and its availability will continue to expand through 2019 at convenience and grocery stores across the United States. It is manufactured and distributed by the Coca-Cola Company.

“Our fans have loved our ready-to-drink iced coffees as a great way to power through their day with Dunkin’ anytime and anywhere,” says Brian Gilbert, Dunkin’ Donuts vice president, Retail Business Development. “Now, for the coffee-loving consumers who want something a little bolder than a traditional cup of coffee, but not as strong as a shot of espresso, our Shot in the Dark creates an exciting and energizing new option when on-the-go.”

Shot in the Dark wasn’t the only new Dunkin’ ready-to-drink choice launching last fall for on-the-go coffee drinkers. The brand also introduced a Pumpkin Spice Bottled Iced Coffee. 

Dunkin’ Donuts pre-packaged branded bottled Iced Coffee beverages include Original, Mocha, Espresso, French Vanilla and Cookies & Cream flavors.


New Flavors

Humm Kombucha, Bend, Ore., introduced two kombucha flavors—Ginger Juniper and Raspberry Hops—delivering just 5g of sugar and only 25 calories per serving.

Officials say the Raspberry Hops offering pairs raspberry’s tartness with dry hops to provide a balanced finish pulling from local brews. Meanwhile the Ginger Juniper variety pairs ginger and juniper.

Made with certified-USDA organic and all-natural ingredients, this lineup also is verified non-alcoholic, organic, GMO-free and each product contains 2 billion probiotics at the time of bottling.

“Now, savvy kombucha consumers are steering away from sugar-forward drinks, but they’re still looking for great-tasting kombucha with sugar content that doesn’t overshadow the incredible health benefits and overall enjoyment of the drink,” says Jamie Danek, co-founder and CEO.

“Kombucha can sometimes be a category of extremes; an aggressively vinegary taste or a juice-forward taste that makes it a little easier to enjoy with a fair amount of sugar,” adds Mackenzie Stabler, director of innovation. “For these two flavors, we pulled from naturally strong ingredients and paired them with staples we love at Humm to create an extremely well-balanced flavor that folks can enjoy.”


Spiked Cold Brew

Cafe Agave, San Diego, says it’s revolutionizing the “hard coffee” market with the first prepackaged, spiked cold brew coffees: Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew. Made with super-premium ingredients, including 100% Arabica Columbian cold brew coffee, this 12.5% ABV coffee cocktail appeals to even the most discerning coffee drinkers, the company says.

Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew Coffee is packaged in sleek 6.3oz cans available in both singles and four-packs. It comes in four coffee-forward flavors: Espresso Shot, Caffe Mocha, Salted Caramel and Vanilla Cinnamon.

Cafe Agave is a premium blend of dark roast Arabica coffee cold brewed to extract the highest amounts of natural caffeine. It’s then blended with real dairy cream, fermented agave and other natural flavors. Each single-serve can is equivalent to one-half cup of brewed coffee, officials say. Initial launch states for Cafe Agave include Nevada, Arizona, California, Washington and Oregon.

“People are drinking better and looking for quality—whether it’s alcohol or coffee,” says Mark Scialdone, Cafe Agave founder. “In coffee, they are choosing gourmet blends and new brewing techniques. Cold brewing is at the top of this coffee revolution. The coffee is brewed for 12 hours or more delivering a smoother, less bitter experience than traditional brewing methods and its mass-market appeal is growing exponentially as people continue to discover it. We saw the opportunity to create a new category of beverages that combined two of peoples’ favorite things—gourmet cold brewed coffee and alcohol.”

Not Your Average Joe 

Consumers looking for more options, functions in coffee drink market

Loco Coffee Co. Cold Brew Coffee + Coconut Water

Coffee and coconut water deliver a functional fix.

Consumers are looking for options beyond their typical cup of joe—in favor of ready-to-drink (RTD) varieties offering functional benefits. 

When asked what their ideal bottled/canned cold coffee drink would include, new research from Mintel reveals that US RTD coffee consumers want options that include antioxidants (47%), promote brain health (40%), are anti- inflammatory (35%) or have added probiotics (30%).

Aside from functional benefits, there also is potential for coffee that encourages consumption beyond the usual morning or afternoon pick-me-up. More than two in five (42%) RTD coffee consumers say their ideal bottled/canned cold coffee drink would help them relax, while more than one third (35%) are interested in products with added protein.

Innovation in the RTD coffee segment has contributed to its strong growth. In fact, while roasted coffee is the largest segment of the coffee category (39.2% market share), RTD coffee continues to drive the category as the fastest growing segment, growing 31% in the last two years. Overall, total coffee retail sales in the US are estimated to grow 4% in 2018 to reach $14.4 billion, with steady growth expected to continue through 2023.

“Innovation is vibrant and diverse in the RTD coffee segment and includes new products that are carving out sometimes surprising territory and often taking inspiration from unconventional beverage categories. What’s more, our research shows that iGeneration consumers are more likely to drink RTD coffee than brewed coffee, indicating this is how they are entering the market,” says Caleb Bryant, senior beverage analyst at Mintel. “Consumer interest in better-for-you beverages is also shaping the market as demand for organic and non-GMO coffee or functional formulations enhanced with all-natural flavors, protein and vitamins grows. The broader trend of beverage blurring is also opening up opportunity for innovation and brand extension, especially in the RTD segment.”
Non-dairy milk makes a splash

The better-for-you beverage movement extends to consumers’ coffee preferences both at-home and away.

As non-dairy milk sales continue to rise, consumers are increasingly looking for it in their coffee, too: more than one third (36%) of RTD coffee consumers say their ideal RTD coffee would contain non-dairy milk. What’s more, Mintel research shows that just as many dairy milk consumers add dairy milk to their coffee/tea as non-dairy milk consumers add non-dairy milk to their coffee/tea (32% respectively). 

Dairy alternatives are making a splash on-premise, as well. According to Mintel Menu Insights, the use of non-dairy milk as an ingredient in coffee drinks on US menus grew 107% in the last two years, with almond milk as the standout star, growing 198% in the same time period.

 “Non-dairy milk is a fast-growing segment of the non-alcoholic beverage market, with many consumers, especially iGens and Millennials, switching from using dairy milk to non-dairy milk on an everyday basis and as an addition to their coffee,” adds Bryant. “While soy milk is the most common non-dairy milk used in both coffee and tea drinks, it is falling out of favor. Meanwhile, almond milk has experienced strong growth on menus across the US, indicating that we can expect to see operators swap soy milk for other non-dairy milks, with oat milk emerging as another rising star to watch.”
Generation X drives third wave coffee movement

Innovation within the on-premise coffee market is spurring increased consumption among consumers as Mintel research reveals that one-quarter (25%) of those who drink coffee away from home (AFH) say they are buying coffee drinks AFH more often in 2018 compared to a year ago. Those who are ordering coffee AFH more often are not only trying out new drinks (39%), but are also buying more premium and cold coffee beverages (32% respectively).

While younger consumers are driving consumption of cold coffee drinks, with 28% of iGens who drink coffee AFH saying that they most often order flavored iced coffee, Generation X consumers are driving the third wave coffee movement. In fact, Generation X consumers who drink AFH are the most likely generation to say they enjoy treating themselves to expensive coffee (38% vs 33% overall) and that they would be motivated to visit a new coffee shop for premium coffee beans (31% vs 21% overall)—staples of third wave coffee.

“The third wave coffee movement demonstrates that a sizable population of coffee drinkers view coffee as something that should be celebrated. Gen Xers, while a smaller segment of the US population compared to Baby Boomers and Millennials, are a prime target for shops offering third wave drinks as they are most likely to treat themselves to drinks made with premium coffee beans. Further, the growing presence of third wave coffee drinks means younger iGens will likely enter the third wave coffee market at a relatively young age. While iGens love flavored and iced coffee drinks now, operators must follow this generation throughout their ‘coffee career’ as many will ‘age out of’ these drinks and eventually join their older counterparts in the third wave coffee movement,” concluded Bryant.

City Sips: Imbibe San Fran Trip Includes Coffee, Tea

Last fall saw beverage products developer Imbibe, Niles, Ill., visit San Francisco for a taste and trends tour. After visiting restaurants citywide, Imbibe trend observers shared insights in each of four categories: “fermentation,” “house-made sips,” “coffee house” and “flavors.” 

Here are five quick reads with restaurant and brand names treated in bold type.

OBSERVATION: “Kombucha products were ubiquitous throughout the city. We tried a kombucha flight at MeloMelo Kava Bar and saw it on tap at Zazzi Food. RTDs from local brands Lev’s and House Kombucha featured interesting flavors like black currant and smoked pear. 

OBSERVATION: “Matcha is one of the hottest ingredients right now. The sparkling matcha beverage at Asha Tea House adds enjoyable textural complexity to the antioxidant rich ingredient.”  

OBSERVATION: “Incorporating fruits and veggies into lattes is a trend that started in Australia with beverages like beet and broccoli lattes. Zazzi offers a seasonal Butternut Squash Latte that combines espresso with a butternut squash and bourbon puree.”

OBSERVATION: “Cold brew tea comes at the heels of the cold brew coffee craze. Asha House had a variety of nitrogen-infused cold brew teas to enjoy and Samovar offered a Cold Brew Matcha Mochi Muffin.” 

OBSERVATION: “Cheese tea may sound unusual, but it’s a popular trend in Asia that is emerging stateside. Matcha Cafe Maiko has Matcha Cheese Tea and Hojicha Cheese Tea on the menu.”

Visit for more information.

Originally appeared in the January, 2019 issue of Prepared Foods as Hitting the Shelves.