3 Nonalcoholic Beverage Trends to Jump On (According to Google)

Could your beverage menu use a refresh? Consider these ideas based on data from Google.
infused water
Instead of just serving plain, boring water, offer customers an "enhanced hydration experience” by infusing ice water with herbs or fruit for a fresh, new flavor. (Photo: Tatiana Bralnina/Shutterstock)

Are you worried your cafe or restaurant’s nonalcoholic beverage menu is getting stagnant? Mixing up a few new drink options based on current taste trends could draw additional revenue and differentiate you from the competition.

In its 2017 Beverage Trends Report, Think With Google pulled data from Google and YouTube searches and comments to analyze what people are drinking and why. The study suggests consumers are gravitating toward cold-brewed coffee, earthier flavors and more premium water options.

Here are a few ideas to spice up your drinks menu by including some of the latest trends in your selection. Or really stand out by building off these beverage ideas and creating a signature drink of your own.

Cold-brew coffee

coldbrew

For cold-brew coffee fans, the process of making the their drink is just as important as the ingredients you use. (Photo: P-fotography/Shutterstock)

Made by infusing coffee in room-temperature or cold water over 12 to 24 hours, cold-brew coffee has grown significantly more popular in recent years — reaching 158 percent year-over-year growth in 2015.

“Highlighting ‘process’ can be a driver of interest and a reason for consumers to recognize extra value in your beverage,” the Google study noted. “How a drink is made is just as important as what’s in it. Whether it’s driven by health, taste or connoisseurship, we see growing interest in beverages that are defined by the key process through which they are made.”

Part of the growing popularity of cold-brew coffee can be attributed to YouTube DIY tutorials, which teach viewers to cold-brew their own coffee using common household items.

Related: Nitro: A Completely New Coffee Experience

Enhanced water

Consumers are looking for accessible, clean water, often in large quantities. Instead of only serving plain, boring water, establishments should find ways to offer customers “a more enhanced hydration experience,” the Google study said.

Adding a little spice to your water is easy: simply add plant leaves, herbs or fruit to your ice water to infuse it with fresh new flavors. Or, let the added ingredients steep in hot water to create a unique tea for your guests.

Other ways to elevate your water selection include adjusting the pH balance, adding carbonation or using premium water bottles. Alkaline water, which has a higher pH level than regular tap water, has seen steady growth in the U.S. since 2012. As for seasonal tastes, consumers tend to show more interest in sparkling water in the summer months.

Additionally, YouTube hosts have been educating consumers on the safety of water packaging materials.

Sweet Hut Bakery and Cafe in Atlanta serves their water in drink boxes, said manager Robert West. “It’s a cleaner taste and leaves a smaller carbon footprint,” he explained. And if you serve water in a way that’s beneficial to the drinker and/or the environment, be sure to let your patrons know that you care by include it on your packaging.

Related: How to Incorporate Superfoods Into Your Menu

Earthy flavors

matcha latte

U.S. interest in matcha rose by 202 percent in 2015, and matcha lattes are picking up steam, showing 70 percent year-over-year growth as of early 2017. (Photo: NatashaPhoto/Shutterstock)

If you’re curious about which flavors to experiment with in your beverages, Google’s data suggests earthy flavors are trending, such as matcha, ginger, turmeric and chai.

Amy Ho, marketing and special events director at Chalk Point Kitchen, offered this advice on creating cold brews and infusions: “Chicory, cacao nibs and cinnamon are easy starting points. With their history of use in various cultures, there are plenty of recipes to choose from.”

Ginger, the underground stem of a southeast Asian plant, and matcha, a strong green tea, are two earthy flavors that have grown in popularity in the U.S. market. Matcha can be used in beverages as well as foods — especially desserts. In the U.S., interest in matcha rose by 202 percent year over year in 2015, and matcha lattes are picking up steam, showing 70 percent year-over-year growth as of the beginning of 2017.

West noted that matcha lattes are “a creamier, sweeter drink that appeals to a large audience. They order it because they like the way it tastes; it’s mostly flavor driven. Matcha generally caters toward a younger crowd and is more relatable to a regular vanilla latte. However, matcha has less caffeine for those monitoring their caffeine intake.”

Related: How to ‘Pumpkin Spice’ Up Your Business If You’re Not a Coffee Shop

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