Ready-to-drink coffee and tea beverages come in many forms. Some are zero calorie, with either no sweetener or a high-intensity sweetener, while others are sweetened, often with other ingredients – including juice, milk and dairy alternatives. Some are fresh products, with a short refrigerated shelflife. Others are processed to be heat stable for an unopened ambient shelflife of about a year. Whatever the brew, sales of both are booming.
The percentage of Americans drinking coffee on a daily basis increased to 62 percent this past year, up from 57 percent in 2016, according to the National Coffee Assn. This increase may be attributed to the growth in premium, gourmet beans as well as the variety and convenience of grab-and-go, ready-to-drink coffees. The latter has experienced an upsurge thanks to the cold-brew phenomenon, which, for many, turns an otherwise bitter beverage into something smoother, more palatable.
Data show that consumption of ready-to-drink coffee is highest among 13-18-year-olds. The same is true for ready-to-drink tea. In fact, Peter Goggi, president of Tea Association of the U.S.A., thinks Gen Z will be the largest ready-to-drink tea consumer yet.
“Ready-to-drink tea continues to grow and is estimated to have grown about 4 percent in 2017, accounting for some 45.7 percent of tea market share,” according to Goggi.
“While more expensive than bagged tea on a per-serving basis, consumers continue to reach for ready-to-drink teas for their flexibility, convenience and as a healthier alternative to sugary beverages.”
“Cold-brewed coffee is the hottest thing around right now. It is no longer reserved for java aficionados. It now has mass market appeal." - Mark Scialdone, co-founder, Café Agave, manufacturers of a spiked cold-brew coffee beverage.
Products To Watch
When Peet’s Coffee and Tea Corp. first entered the ready-to-drink cold-brew coffee business in 2016, its limited offerings came in half-pint gable-top cartons. Now the company has transitioned to plastic bottles. One of its specialties is The Black Tie, which is described as bold, smooth and never bitter. It is made with sweetened condensed milk and cream. Other offerings include Almond Milk, Au Lait, Dark Chocolate and limited-edition Peppermint Mocha.
The new Pure Leaf’s Tea House Collection from Unilever features crafted blends of premium organic tea, brewed in small batches and blended with fruits and herbs. Varieties are: Fuji Apple and Ginger Green Tea, Sicilian Lemon and Honeysuckle Black Tea, Valencia Orange Peel Black Tea and Wild Blackberry and Sage Black Tea. The organic tea beverages come in 14-oz. glass bottles and are sold individually as well as in club store packs of a dozen.
DanoneWave is expanding its refrigerated cold-brew coffee offerings with Stok Protein Espresso. Each 12-oz. bottle contains 16g of protein and is being marketed as “fuel for your daily grind.” The first A serving contains as much protein as two large eggs and a slice of bacon and as much calcium as a glass of milk. Its ingredient list is simply: coffee (filtered water, coffee), skim milk, micellar casein (milk protein), cane sugar, cream.