All year round coffee remains the most popular beverage in the world, with more than 400 billion cups consumed each year, but the 1st of October is an even more special day for coffee lovers as it marks International Coffee Day.

The roasts are getting lighter, pallets more discerning and morning coffees are even getting colder. Caffeine and decaf lovers alike are enjoying their cuppas in more ways than ever before, but for the trendsetter, here are five trends are leading the way in 2018.

Sweetness: A sense of occasion

Although South Africans have traditionally enjoyed their coffee sweet and creamy, we see a breakaway culture developing among the more discerning coffee drinkers, opting for less milk and sugar-based drinks, because they want to experience the coffee without disguising it with additives like milk, sugar and syrups. This trend is led by speciality coffee shops as well as a certain segment of consumers who are more health-conscious around sugar. The growth in the popularity of banting (or paleo) diets also contributes to this trend.

On the contrary, the introduction of popular American coffee retailers, who traditionally still operate in the segment of the market where syrups and other indulgent toppings make a huge portion of their sales, has made way for the less discerning coffee drinkers. These are usually the younger generation, who enjoy indulgent drinks and the convenience of these retailers.

Traceability: Origin to cup experience

More than ever, people want to know what they are drinking – drawing unique flavour experiences and notes from the coffee’s origin. Single origin’s flavour depicts its genesis, by possessing characteristics of that specific area where the particular coffee was grown. In 2018 and beyond, we’ll see people connect their preference to the origin that brings with it a great variety of tastes to experience. People will increasingly choose the perfect tones for their beloved beverage, based on the coffee’s origin.

Brewing: On the rocks

Cold coffee hit us about a year ago, and it is fast becoming one of the favourites. With more speciality coffee shops offering this chilled variation, the popularity is continuously growing, with no sign of slowing down.

There are many different ways of creating and serving cold coffee. Like nitro coffee, which is coffee that is nitrogen-infused and served like beer, offered by smaller boutique roasters. A more popular, and readily available option, is the slow cold-brewed coffee, which takes about 24 hours to make and can be enjoyed with ice or even syrup. Although cold coffee does not need to be cold brewed, the slow, cold-brewed variety is smoother, extracts a lot of flavour, and gives a unique and widely celebrated taste. 

Convenience: Variety on demand

Traditional ways of doing just about anything are swiftly phasing out, and making coffee is no exception. South Africans are increasingly moving towards using coffee machines at home. The latest machines give the versatility to play around with different beans and varieties, like the Philips 4000 series Super-automatic espresso machine, which allows one to choose from a wide choice of specialties at one touch.

The café culture is also growing exponentially. People want convenience, but quality is key. For the first time, the convenience of making premium coffee at home, will be just short of a requirement, because as your palette becomes more refined, the harder it becomes to drink instant coffee.

Pairing: It’s more than the sum of its parts

Pairings bring out different taste experiences, which is a trend across different industries and is now seen spilling over into the coffee industry. Because coffee lovers, just like whiskey fans, have distinct pallets, they are engaging in more coffee pairings to further enhance its flavours. Coffee and chocolate pairing is a favourite one, but we see some interesting items being paired with brews, including fruit, like strawberries and citrus. Another favourite is coffee and whiskey, which brings out the similarities between the two beverages.

South Africa follows the U.S. and U.K. coffee trends – about two years later, but as global society grows closer, the trend lag is expected to drop in the next couple of years. One thing is for sure, coffee will never go out of style.

Happy International Coffee Day for tomorrow!

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