Bring out the flannels and haunted hayrides— it’s fall, folks! And as the temps settle to a comfortable cool, people will be warming up with those long-anticipated pumpkin spice lattes, cinnamon teas and apple ciders. Instead of settling for the occasional coffee-shop splurge, this autumn customers are reaching for hot beverages that feel indulgent and offer functional perks, so they can feel good about regularly sipping their favorites.
$97 million expected revenue for the 2019 Hot Drinks market (1)
Brewers of coffee and tea, the two most popular hot beverages on the planet, are incorporating new and exciting functional ingredients like moringa, matcha, dandelion, sencha, rhodelia, and more. And beyond the benefits they bring, these ingredients lend a touch of indulgence. “We have seen a bump in beautiful drinks—those that are most Instagram worthy,” says Jesse Richardson, Ambassador of Tea, CEO of The Apothecary. “Drinks that use activated charcoal, butterfly pea powder, and Matcha have really taken social by storm.”
People expect their beverages to do more than quench their thirst, adds Ann Foley, CEO of 10th Avenue Tea. That’s why the company has added ingredients that have a function, like valerian root for sleep and matcha and CBD for, well, just about anything.
Also, sips that offer gut, skin, joint and muscle support are particularly popular in the hot beverages and natural health industries, says Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, co-founder of Ancient Nutrition. “Formulas that include adaptogenic herbs, including ashwagandha, reishi and chaga, are also trending because they help the body deal with stress and maintain balance.”
Anyone looking for natural ways to reduce anxiety, improve their sleep, or immune system is in the market for these drinks, says Jacqueline Tylko, corporate sales and ingredient consultant at Nuts.com, which sells premium coffees and teas.
Younger shoppers are helping to drive the trend toward hot beverages with added benefits. “When it comes to today’s consumer, research shows 65% (2) of Americans want more functionality from their food,” says Maria Emmer-Aanes, senior vice president of marketing at Numi Organic Tea. “Consumers, especially Gen Y and Z, are looking for convenience and efficiency, but increasingly won’t settle for overly processed or artificial ingredients.”
Zeke Freeman, founder & CEO of Bee Raw, has also noticed the trend toward transparency. “We are seeing that people are more and more interested in knowing exactly what is in their cup and where it comes from,” he says. “Our loose-leaf hand-picked teas are single-origin and say right on the label what it is and where it is from.”
Here, a look at 5 trends for fall 2019:
1. CBD Infused
Offering premium CBD-infused coffee and tea, Green Roads is on the hottest trend. As an experience, a caffeine drink infused with CBD delivers jitter-free focus, says David Fuentes, coffee specialist at Green Roads. “You get more energy, but the calming properties of CBD keep you balanced. The CBD tea helps you unwind. It is delicious and it combines multiple soothing herbs for deep relaxation.”
Factoring in the desire for on-the-go convenience, Ancient Nutrition offers an add-in for ease of use. “CBD Golden Chai, our CBD hemp powder, is made with an organic blend of fermented herbs and spices, including ashwagandha, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon, in addition to USDA certified organic full spectrum hemp,” says Dr. Josh Axe. “Adding this golden chai CBD hemp powder to hot water, almond or coconut milk helps to promote a calm and relaxed state of mind, boost energy and enhance mental clarity, due to the specially selected clinically studied ashwagandha ingredient.”
Organic Traditions showcased CBD Golden Mylk Turmeric Latte with Saffron & Probiotics with 5mg of CBD+ featuring a complete range of cannabinoids at Expo East—which adds to their delicious line-up of just-add-water drink mixes with Ayurvedic herbs, spices, probiotics and more.
Selling CBD-infused sips doesn’t come without challenges, especially regarding customer confusion. “Hemp and CBD is a potentially confusing and tricky new market, but finding a good CBD manufacturer means you will have assets on hand,” says Richardson. “Business owners on the forefront need to be constantly up to date, and leveraging our knowledge is a great way to keep a pulse on the hemp industry. Further, the main thing any CBD brand should consider is value and quality. The space has grown substantially, primarily because of widespread private label and 3rd party manufactured products. This means a lot of what is on the shelves is the same, just with different branding. A successful CBD brand will break out of that through uniqueness in packaging, formulations, and the story around the company and focus on transparency, making testing easily available—most shoppers look for this with CBD products.”
“Adaptogens have really taken the spotlight, whether it’s Mushroom Powders, Organic Rhodiola Rosea, or Ashwagandha Root—consumers are looking for that feel-good all-natural ingredient to stir into their tea mix,” says Tylko. “We offer a wide variety of ingredients for a perfect mix-your-own tea bar at home. “Rosehips, chamomile flowers, crystallized ginger, hibiscus flowers, cinnamon sticks, lion’s mane mushroom powder, just to think of a few. As a nourishing adaptogenic root, Organic Rhodiola Rosea is known to reduce fatigue, relieve stress, and improve overall health.”
Tylko recalls that a 2008 pilot study at UCLA examined the effects of a daily dose of the herb on people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The researchers found that Rhodiola Rosea effectively reduced their anxious symptoms. Further, she points to a double-blind study published in Phytomedicine which suggested that a low-dose treatment of Rhodiola Rosea can reduce the symptoms associated with general fatigue.
At Teeccino, their newest flavor features the adaptogenic herb maca, which is said to be naturally energizing while supporting healthy adrenal gland function. “Although adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms have been around since the ‘70s, people are just starting to learn about them as the media covers their health benefits,” says Caroline MacDougall, CEO/founder of Teeccino. The company is launching new flavors with more adaptogenic ingredients this fall.
3. Twists on Tradition
Adventurous consumers are looking to infuse health benefits into just about anything in innovative ways. That’s what Bragg is showing the industry. “Traditionally our products are served cold but adding them to warm/hot water or tea is the perfect way to enjoy a hot, healthy—tasty!—drink,” says Michelle Zettle, senior vice president of sales at Bragg Live Food Products. “People are looking for new ways to incorporate their health regimes into their daily lives—we think ease and accessibility are key to keeping on trend and top of mind in this category.”
When it comes to apple cider vinegar, studies show its health benefits. A review published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice found that vinegar consumption can reduce the postprandial glucose and insulin levels, which may improve glycemic control (3).
Bragg’s top seller is their original Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider, explains Zettle. “However,” she says, “we foresee the Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar & Honey Blend to be a big hit—especially related to hot beverages.”
Bee Raw also knows that unexpected and interesting mixups are a big deal. “We are starting to see the use of other ingredients alongside tea and honey to make these beverages even more potent and soothing,” says Freeman. “Adding spices and herbs to create a concoction that helps invigorate, heal or calm the body and mind.” The company’s Chamomile Herbal Tea paired with Maine Wild Raspberry Honey is soothing and sweet, he adds. “The organically grown, caffeine-free Chamomile flowers with notes of fig are even smoother when complemented by the light, floral and unique raspberry finish of our raw Wild Raspberry honey.”
Another nostalgic sip getting a 2019 upgrade: hot chocolate. Firefly Chocolate is a maker of organic ceremonial cacao, similar to what we’d consider hot chocolate. The difference is, Firefly uses organic 85% cacao and instead of grinding the cacao into powder, consumers take cacao disks and add them to hot water. In this process, the natural benefits are maintained and enhanced, according to Jonas Ketterle, CEO of Firefly Chocolate. “Ceremonial Cacao offers a gentle stimulant from theobromine, minimal caffeine, low sugar, high levels of magnesium, all of which contributes to beneficial effects on brain chemistry,” says Ketterle. “For products with less than 85% cacao content, sugar-processing bacteria in the gut outcompete beneficial bacteria that help the full absorption of cacao. This is why 85% or darker is essential for health.”
Related: Interview with Katy Perry of Bragg
Teeccino’s customers are looking for ingredients that support gut health, immunity and overall vitality, says MacDougall. “Our chicory and dandelion roots have a soluble fiber called inulin that is a prebiotic, a term that is just now becoming visible in the media,” she says. “People are realizing that in order to have a healthy gut, they need to feed their microbiome, the community of microorganisms that live in the gut. Prebiotics like inulin in Teeccino feed the beneficial probiotics to support gut health and the immune system. Customers are also looking for more ways to increase their energy without caffeine.”
Ancient Nutrition is innovating the hot beverage industry with another gut- and bone-healthy add-in. The company’s chicken Bone Broth Protein powder features Type II collagen and other compounds (glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid) that help to support many areas of the body, says Dr. Josh Axe. “Adding Bone Broth Protein powder to coffee, warm almond or coconut milk can help to support healthy joints and skin, which can be particularly important in colder months. Consuming beverages with powder made from bone broth also supports the health of your gut.”
On the Horizon
Listing trends to watch for in the hot beverage category, Numi Organic Tea’s Maria Emmer-Aanes calls out:
- Clean, raw materials that enhance health properties like vitamins or enhanced extracts with herbs, vegetables and fruits. (go here for news on raw materials.)
- Plant power with herbs and vegetable ingredients.
- Ayurveda and adaptogenic blends using moringa, maca, ashwagandha, turmeric and fungi.
- On-the-go and ready-to-drink for functional beverages.
- Sustainable packaging, as consumers become more eco-conscious (go here for trends in packaging.)
- Functional teas and condition-specific blends like hemp and CBD-infused.
- Artisan whole leaf premium teas including single origin / Fair Trade / organic / non-GMO Certified Sustainable Sourcing and Rainforest Alliance.
What’s on tap for the future?
“In 2020, we expect growing demand from consumers for a wide variety of healthy herbs due to increased media coverage and shopper education. Adaptogens such as maca, eleuthero, astragalus, schizandra, ginseng, tulsi and rhodiola will continue to grow in popularity as people find it more pleasant to drink them in their tea cup rather than take them as a pill,” says MacDougall. “Mushroom coffees and teas that include reishi, chaga, cordyceps and lion’s mane will move more into consumer awareness. Natural energy that brings vitality without stressing the adrenal glands will be increasingly sought after.”
Another trend that is emerging in the tea category: Freeze-dried fruit, according to Tylko. “Freeze dried fruit retains all the nutrients and flavor of fresh fruit, without the quick expiry date. Flavors and color transfer into liquids much more efficiently than fresh fruit.”
The experts at Green Roads see convenience and ease-of-use as a trend that will continue to gain attention. “We’re rolling out our premium coffee in pods that will work with Keurig-style machines,” says Fuentes. “We’re going to introduce seasonal flavors that people will love such as Pumpkin Spice, as well as traditional tastes like hazelnut and vanilla.”
On the topic of sustainability, Ketterle notes that the future is about increasing regenerative farming practices that have beneficial impact beyond what organic offers. “A lot of this has to do with soil, watershed, and habitat regeneration. Also, I think Fair Trade is on the way out in favor of private certifications that can have more social impact.” WF
- “Hot Drinks, United States.” Statista.com. Accessed 8/16/19. www.statista.com/outlook/30000000/109/hot-drinks/united-states
- Beth Newhart, “65% of Americans look for functional benefits in food and drink and want immediate results,” Dairyreporter.com. Posted 3/21/2019. www.dairyreporter.com/Article/2019/03/20/65-of-Americans-look-for-functional-benefits-in-food-and-drink-and-want-immediate-results
- Farideh Shishehbor, Anahita Mansoorilow, & Fatemeh Shirani, “Vinegar consumption can attenuate postprandial glucose and insulin responses; a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials,” Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 127 (May 2017) Pages 1-9., https://www.diabetesresearchclinicalpractice.com/article/S0168-8227(16)30851-8/fulltext.