Sick of the daily grind when it comes to your morning coffee? Good news: This year promises to be anything but your average cup of Joe. Consumer expectations in the U.K. around everything from bean to brew is growing significantly, and so are the offerings, as coffee shops serve up hot and cold options with nuances unheard of just a few years ago.
As London café owner Charlie Meadows from KinCafe puts it, “The new wave of coffee, with emphasis on the ‘flat-white,’ provenance of beans, and quality over quantity of product, has become so important to the mass audience of coffee drinkers that the coffee chains have tried to emulate these values in a more commercial and high-street setting.”
Here are some 2017 coffee trends to wake up and smell.
Beans Means Greens
Coffee chains from the capital’s Grind to Taylor Street are roasting their own beans so they can access farmers directly, select the beans of their choice and personalize roasting methods. This brewing game-changer has slowly seeped into consumer consciousness. From Guatemala to Yemen to Ethiopia to the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, customers are becoming more far more familiar with where their coffee is grown along with nuances in flavor, color, and more.
In the words of Ruta Sasnauskaite of Volcano Coffee Works, "Specialty coffee and the values it embodies - quality, transparency and ethics - are permeating popular culture, and I’m seeing more and greater engagement from the public. What was once a small community of independent coffee businesses supplying to curious consumers has now grown significantly, and competition with it. I think we’re witnessing a return to an emphasis on community within the coffee industry as independent businesses acknowledge one another as allies against the chains and work together to champion the values of specialty coffee."
From the Kalita Wave to aeropress, v60, and chemex methods, the pour-over brewing technique is growing in popularity amongst coffee aficionados. Pour-over brewing involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds to extract the most flavor from the grind. It can be a lengthier and more intricate process, which goes well with coffee’s renewed status as a highly ritualistic, supremely precise pastime. Filter-focused coffee shops like Sheffield’s MarmadU.K.es are popping up throughout the U.K., as the demise of coffee as a grab-and-go commodity accelerates.
Cold brew coffee used to be the preferred drink of an elite club of enthusiasts. Now, cold brews seem to have been adopted at a refreshing pace by the mainstream, including Starbucks. This year, we’ll see cold brews pop up almost everywhere, with bottled and jarred options available from your local coffee shop to the cold beverage section of your local grocery store. While particularly suited to the summer months, cold brew can and should be enjoyed all the year round.
Pea in Your Coffee
In the U.K. alone, the number of vegans grew in the last decade by a whopping 360 percent. This growing dietary trend has bolstered the market growth of products which used to be marginal, including milk alternatives – and that’s great news for those vegans who miss their latte fix. And it ain’t just soy anymore. There have been some interesting developments in the world of dairy alternatives, including Ripple’s pea protein milk alternative – which replicates the exact texture of milk for your cappuccino devotees who crave the real thing. Vegans can now order an entirely plant-based cappuccino that’s as foamy as its bovine-derived counterpart. Look for even more alternative dietary products from equally unlikely sources to hit the market in the coming months.
Swirl and Spit
Coffee enthusiasts are not born, they are made. As consumers learn to appreciate brewing techniques and the nuances of coffee beans according to their climate and terroir – in the same way that we’ve come to appreciate grape and fermenting techniques in wine – “cupping classes,” where participants learn to taste coffees from various beans and ways of brewing them, will grow more popular – with all the sniffing and slurping we’ve become familiar with from similar wine events. Cupping classes already exist in many urban centers in America, and as fine coffee becomes more central to the British palate, look for one coming to a café near you.
Coffee has been around for nearly a thousand years, and that pungent aroma, chocolatey hue and crucial caffeine kick that have been an integral part of waking us up and delighting our senses will continue to give us something to look forward to when we rise… and when we begin to sputter. Look out for some more delicious excuses to sip in 2017.