Leading beverage supplier and innovator S&D Coffee & Tea® recently teamed up with Nation's Restaurant News to predict the top beverage trends most likely to appear on restaurant menus in 2020. Drawn from a comprehensive survey* commissioned among restaurant operators nationwide, along with an in-depth audit of market insights and testimonials from influential industry insiders, the report is diverse in its findings. Trends range from the nitrogenation of coffee to beneficial adaptogens and an increased demand for sustainable sourcing. Overall, the trends revealed in this report offer insights into what beverage menus will look like in 2020 and beyond.
Gone are the days when beverages were simply about taste and price. Beyond wanting to know how beverages are prepared, consumers are inquiring about the health benefits of the individual ingredients, how those ingredients were sourced, and if the people who sourced them were treated and compensated fairly.
The following is a summary of three of the top beverage trends included in the 2020 report:
The Nitrogenation of Cold Brew: Nitrogenation (permeating liquid with nitrogen) is gaining popularity among coffee drinkers for its smooth and creamy mouthfeel and is beginning to pop up everywhere from independent coffee shops to convenience chains. In addition to coffee, tea is also being nitrogenated with increasing frequency. Expect to see even more beverages (e.g. lemonade, aguas frescas) follow suit.
Sustainable Sourcing: About 20% of operators take sustainability issues (such as fair-trade sourcing) into account when deciding what beverages to serve, and nearly double that number recognize sustainability as a growing trend. This is directly in response to growing consumer demand for sustainably sourced ingredients, especially within the coffee industry. In light of this movement, many American coffee roasters are shifting away from commodity product and toward beans sourced directly from farmers or farming collectives.
Drinks That Sparkle: As consumers seek out alternatives to traditional soda, and seltzer popularity continues to surge, operators are making their own carbonated drinks and also serving smaller-production "craft" sodas. When surveyed, 20% of operators predict the emergence of carbonated coffees and teas in 2020.
Additionally, the report takes a deeper dive into the following seven trends:
• Next-Level Frozen Beverages: Frozen mixology technique called "switching"
• Beverages with Added Health Benefits: Drinks containing adaptogens, protein and MCT oil
• CBD in Beverages: CBD in coffee and tea specifically
• Revitalized Energy Drinks: Performance beverages that are more complex
• H2O-Plus: Water with added benefits
• Plant-Based Drinks: Beverages exclusively derived from plants
• Better-for-You Booze: Alcohol-free adult beverages

* Survey Methodology
On Sept. 4, 2019, Informa Engage emailed invitations to participate in an online survey to members of NRN. The emails included a live link to the survey to make it easier for invitees to respond. Each respondent was afforded the opportunity to enter a drawing for one of four $100 Amazon gift cards. Follow-up emails were sent to non-respondents on Sept. 10, 2019. The invitations and survey were branded with the Nation's Restaurant News name and logo. By Sept. 16, 2019, Informa Engage had received 413 usable responses. The findings in this report are based on those responses as well as an audit of market insights, expert interviews and testimonials from industry insiders.