The market for cold coffee is heating up.

By Rieva Lesonsky

We recently mentioned the growing popularity of tea, but that doesn’t mean coffee has been dethroned as a top beverage. According to new research from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), “cold coffee has drinkers buzzing.” Last year 19% of global new coffee launches were iced, ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages, up from 16% in 2015.

Mintel says chilled coffee is an especially hot commodity in the U.S., growing at least 10% annually between 2013 and 2017. In fact, 56% of new RTD coffee launches in America were cold brew in 2017, up from 38% the year prior. Plus, retail cold brew sales hit about $38 million in 2017, representing a single-year growth of 137%.

A lot of this RTD growth is driven by millennials, like my millennial niece who was an early adopter of the trend. Some 68% of Americans ages 18-34 “drink single-serve, RTD coffee (in bottles or cans),” compared to 43% of total U.S. adults, Mintel says.

Mintel’s Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink, Jonny Forsyth, says RTD coffee is a “better format for innovation than other hot-serve formats. While new product launches of iced coffee have reached record highs globally, in the U.S., cold brew has emerged as a vibrant growth segment of chilled coffee.”

There are two other coffee trends brewing. One is what Mintel dubs “the rise of super coffee,” which is coffee laden with coconut oil, chia seeds, protein and grass-fed butter, making it “healthy.” This is leading coffee companies to “target health-obsessed younger drinkers.” Mintel reports in the U.S., 17% of 18-34 year-old male coffee drinkers view added “functionality,” such as extra protein or added vitamins, as important when selecting which coffee to drink.

The other trend to keep an eye on is the growing demand for organic coffee. Last year, Mintel says, 10% of global coffee launches claimed to be organic, up from 8% in 2016. But in the U.S., organic coffee “accounted for 22% of all coffee launches in 2017, up from 15% in 2016.”

There’s still a lot of opportunity in the coffee market. Forsyth says, “Coffee with added protein is still a relatively unexplored area of global coffee innovation despite Starbucks targeting this space in the U.S. market since 2015. Increasing attention to health and wellness among consumers globally will result in specific opportunities for coffee with added protein, as well as organic coffee, in the next two years.”

Coffee stock photo by annop26/Shutterstock