Like so many other hobbies, coffee is susceptible to the ebb and flow of culture and trends.
Even though coffee has been around since the 15th century, many innovations have happened in recent years. This is primarily due to the advent of specialty coffee and the steadily growing community of homebrewers, who gather across social media to share tips and tricks.
This article will take the temperature on both old and new coffee trends so you know what to try in 2022 and beyond.
- Nitro Coffee
- Cold Brew
- Turmeric & Chai Latte
- Mushroom Latte
- Dalgona Coffee
- Non-Dairy Milk
- Single Dose Grinders
- 3D Printing
- Crowdfunded Coffee Products
Nitro coffee is a close cousin to cold brew. Nitro was introduced by Cuvee Coffee in 2012 but became a phenomenon in 2016 when Starbucks launched it in their stores.
Nitro is the coffee world’s version of a Guinness beer; it’s dark, dense, and poured from a tap. Nitro can have a smooth and sweeter taste to it.
However, this drink seems to be a hit or miss for people. Being nitrogen-infused, this form of cold brew is served without ice and is meant to be drunk without any additives. Oddly, nitro cold brew has been around for a few years already, and plenty of people are still discovering it and trying it for the first time.
From a barista’s perspective, cold brew versus nitro is a tough one to hash out.
Cold brew has become a staple in coffee shops. It is fast to serve, packs a lot of caffeine, and is versatile when making fun specialty drinks. Not only that, you can find some form of cold brew in nearly every grocery store anywhere.
Cold brews can have different preparation and serving methods. Some places have coffee specifically for cold brew, and some use cold brew concentrate. Although it is more work, I prefer to make cold brew in the shop. I’ve made cold brew with fruity single-origin blends, providing a unique experience. Overall, cold brew is still more popular than nitro. It is pretty straightforward and a consistent experience from place to place.
Turmeric & Chai Lattes
Turmeric and chai lattes have been around for quite some time. However, making these drinks is most common using either powder or concentrate.
Forgive the generalization, but typically the powdered versions are too sweet. Additionally, they can be watery if the mixture isn’t consistent.
These drinks are popular because of their low caffeine content. Health-conscious consumers also tend to order these drinks. Turmeric boasts anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. In addition, chai can help with heart health, reduce blood sugar, and aid digestion.
From the coffee shop perspective, chai and turmeric drinks can be found in Third Wave shops and more traditional cafés. The latter tend to use powders, while specialty coffee shops are more likely to use concentrates.
It’s prudent to ask the barista how they prepare these drinks before ordering. That way, you can avoid the overly sweet powdered form.
In recent years, mushroom coffee has been somewhat of a trend in the biohacker and ‘tech-bro” community.
However, I have never seen it on the menu during my visits to numerous specialty shops.
Mushroom coffee isn’t consumed for the taste. Instead, it consists of coffee blended with medicinal mushroom extracts.
Mushroom coffee is said to help with reducing anxiety and improving immunity. Although this may sound like it would taste undesirable, mushroom coffee is blended well enough to provide a smooth and nutty-tasting cup of coffee.
The south Korean coffee trend Dalgona coffee (also known as “whipped” coffee) became immensely popular in 2020 due to the combined forces of Tik-Tok and lockdown boredom. Dalgona coffee is made by mixing equal parts instant coffee, sugar, and water and then whisking them together.
Once the mixture has become fluffy and almost custardy, you add hot or cold milk to it. Finally, toppings can be added, like cinnamon, whipped cream, and honey.
Dalgona became a phenomenon overnight. However, as is often the case with Tik-Tok trends, they also disappear quickly. Here, in 2022, Dalgona already feels like old news. Unsurprisingly, the coffee community has moved on to more significant things than what is essentially just a photogenic mix of instant coffee and sugar.
Non-dairy milk is still all the rage in 2022 and probably will be for years to come.
Many years ago, consumers saw the rise of soy milk. As time passed, soy was accompanied by almond and coconut milk. However, nowadays, the undisputed king is oat milk. Oat milk is offered at practically every shop.
The once-popular soy option has begun to die out, along with coconut milk by its side. They will likely always be around but may be hard to come by in a coffee shop. At the same time, other non-dairy options have begun to surface; pistachio, macadamia, and sesame, for instance.
There are many things to consider when it comes to alternative milk. Ethics, environmental sustainability, and health are obvious ones.
However, baristas also tend to have strong opinions on the matter. While every barista should know how to steam whole milk, non-dairy milk has its own learning curve, depending on the type.
Oatly Barista has become extremely popular since it’s both tasty and excellent for latte art. Oatly has become so popular that Starbucks exclusively uses the brand.
According to Statista, the retail sales value of non-dairy milk in the U.S. was a whopping 2.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, and this number is expected to rise in the coming years.
A massive trend in 2021 and 2022 has been single-dose grinders. As a result, the number of customers, friends, and colleagues who have transitioned to having a single dose grinder has grown almost exponentially.
Historically, almost all grinders had big and bulky hoppers meant for storing beans. However, leaving beans in a hopper exposes them to oxygen. It also makes it difficult to switch between a wide variety of beans.
Single-dosing gives you more flexibility if you want to experiment with many different kinds of beans simultaneously. So in that way, it’s ideal for the home user.
Virtually all hand grinders on the market are single-dosers. Still, it wasn’t until the Niche Zero grinder arrived that big manufacturers realized that there was a huge demand for single dosing.
3D printed accessories
Another trend that seems to have been spawned by lockdown boredom and coffee discussions online is the rise in 3D printed coffee gadgets.
People who aren’t coffee geeks don’t understand it, but there’s a vast potential for geeky gadgets that can somehow elevate the coffee experience.
During the last year, some notable 3D printed inventions have been single dose hoppers, espresso distribution tools, and helpful accessories for grinders such as the DF64 and Eureka Mignon Specialita.
Crowdsourced products are pretty astounding – at least when it goes well, and the backers are content and end up with an affordable product on time.
However, quite often, things don’t go as expected. There is always a risk involved in crowdfunding, no matter how slick the marketing materials look. Sometimes the idea that seemed great on paper doesn’t work very well in real life.
Also, during the pandemic, many projects have been delayed due to shortages and bottlenecks. So if you need a grinder here and now, 12-18 months is long to wait.
Coffee forum users tend to create a lot of hype around new products, but the enthusiasm often turns into disappointment.
Ordering ice coffee and a vanilla soft serve ice cream cone to create a “Coffee Float” could be seen as a trend similar to Dalgona coffee. Brewing espresso directly on top of chocolate bars has also been a huge success on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
Non-dairy milk companies are trying to create “barista” versions to be used in coffee shops. Specialty coffee shops and roasters are trying to develop single-origin instant coffee packets for on-the-go use is another one that comes to mind.
Overall, the market is growing. However, it’s hard to say what the market looks like for Third Wave coffee. Still, there is difficulty in trying to remain as specialty coffee that sticks to its traditional roots while keeping up with larger innovative companies with the capital to push and try new coffee drinks.