Coffee Flavors Add Buzz to Alcoholic Beverages

Coffee and cold brew are trending, creating a need for specialty coffee flavors, extracts and concentrates that can be used in beer and cocktails

KerryDigest Fast Facts:

  • From beer to pre-packaged cocktails, alcohol infused with coffee is trending.
  • As consumer become more familiar with specialty coffee, there’s a growing need for the use of premium coffee in alcoholic beverage formulations.
  • Cold brew and coffee flavors and extracts are especially in demand.

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KerryDigest Full Scoop:

The growing presence of coffee shops in North America has helped make premium coffee ubiquitous, raising consumer expectations for coffee purchases and helping move coffee from morning necessity to all-day treat. As a result, a large segment of everyday coffee connoisseurs has emerged, and these individuals want premium coffee in other drinks and products, including alcoholic beverages.

From beers to cocktails, premium coffee is an in-demand ingredient in alcoholic beverages. Brands exploring such products will want to use coffee to elevate the entire taste experience, rather than just appearing as a label callout. We’ve gathered insights on the consumers this trend most appeals to, the coffee and alcohol drinks they want and the types of coffee flavors and other ingredients now available.

Bartender Meets Barista

The lines are blurring between bartenders and baristas. Over the past four years, alcohol on coffee shop and bakery menus grew by 109%, according to Datassential. During the same time period, coffee experienced a 99% rate of growth on beer menus. Coffee is one of the top five flavors used in alcoholic beverages launches in the past five years.


Millennials and Gen Z consumers of drinking age are the two largest consumer groups seeking alcohol infused with coffee at restaurants, according to Mintel. But there is a general curiosity around new coffee beverages among consumers of all ages. Around 66% of American adults agree with the statement “I like trying new/innovative coffee and/or tea drinks,” which highlights the breadth of opportunity for coffee-infused alcoholic beverages.

Cold Brew Coffee is Hot

The cold brew revolution continues to gain traction and it’s led by millennials, one in four of whom admit to loving cold brew coffee, as we found in our proprietary cold brew research. They’re not alone: according to Datassential, 88% of consumers of all ages are familiar with cold brew coffee and 37% of them either “like” or “love” it. Cold brew drinkers appreciate the fact that it is perceived as “naturally sweet” compared to regular coffee, limiting the need for additional sugar or cream, and they like its craft appeal.

As a drink, cold brew has seen 52.7% CAGR menu growth since 2015, per Datassential. According to Mintel Menu Insights, coffee in general experienced a 750% increase in beer and cocktail menu mentions between 2015 and 2018. The beer industry, especially, was an early adopter of the coffee-in-alcoholic beverage trend, with brands like Shiner Bock and Sierra Nevada releasing coffee-infused beers.


Choosing Between Coffee Products for Alcohol

Traditional coffee or cold brew can be added to a number of alcoholic beverages, but other options such as coffee extracts or concentrates may work better, depending on the application, desired taste and manufacturing process. Here are some of the available cold brew and coffee products for alcohol.

  • Coffee and Coffee Pairing Flavors: Flavors are available in powder and liquid formats. This is often an impactful, cost-effective solution for large batch products. In many countries, coffee flavors must be labeled as flavor.

  • Dry and Liquid Extracts: Extracts are available in dry and liquid format, including coffee crystals. These solutions offer an authentic coffee flavour and premium feel and are often a clean label solution.

  • Ready-to-Use Concentrates: Premium coffee concentrates combine a rich, consistent and fresh flavor with full-bodied mouthfeel. Concentrates come in different strengths, depending on application requirements. This option is convenient for foodservice applications.

  • Ready-to-Drink Cold Brew: Flavors such as black, sweetened and latte cold brew are available. This solution may be optimal for retail bottled and shelf-stable products, such as those designed for consumers or small restaurants and bars.

Kerry’s flavorists, application scientists, certified roastmasters and baristas take pride in sourcing the best coffee from nature and perfecting it with Kerry expertise. From bean selection to roasting and extraction, Kerry offers premium coffee solutions that meet the needs of high-quality, unique and customized coffee experiences. To learn more about our cold brew and coffee solutions, which include organic and clean label varieties, contact Kerry.

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