In today’s evolving beverage landscape, vibrant, cutting-edge, and health-forward creations are capturing customer interest. Whether they tell a story through wholesome ingredients, bold aesthetics, or sustainable servingware, consumers want beverages with depth. This expanding category provides a plethora of profit-building opportunities for operators to put more thought, originality, and creativity into their beverage menus.
Fresh & Functional
Consumers want to embark on culinary adventures that cater to their needs, and functional beverages (those containing key health-benefiting ingredients) allow them to satisfy their nutritional preferences. When menuing functional beverages, be sure to provide evidence supporting the claims of their natural, nourishing ingredients.
Kombucha (fermented tea rich in beneficial probiotics) is a function-forward beverage that speaks to digestive wellness, a huge driver in the beverage category. Customers are willing to pay a premium for its complexity, gut-healing properties, and unique flavor and carbonation. With a menu increase of 226% over the last four years, kombucha can create buzz on your menu and generate profits. Craft signature flavor profiles by adding fresh fruit juices, purées, herbs, and spices. Kombucha can also be incorporated across the menu in innovative ways – mix it into cocktails, condiments, dressings, or desserts.
Radiant Raw Juices
Consumers want to get the most out of their beverages, and natural, raw juices deliver on freshness and function. Nutrient-dense greens-based blends will always be a customer favorite, but to differentiate your juices, try exotic medleys made with unconventional produce, spices, oils, and herbal infusions. Experiment with unique additions like antioxidant-rich turmeric, microgreens, rose water, fresh pineapple juice, or maple syrup, or try a mixture of cayenne and chia seeds for added heat and texture. Cater to customers demand for transparency by including background information such as the farm where you sourced the produce in your juices. Try serving Peary-Beet Juice or Golden Mandarin-Coconut Juice.
Appealing Alternatives: Oat Milk
Milk alternatives are drawing fans – especially oat milk. Dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free (depending on where the oats are processed), oat milk is derived from soaked steel cut oats and is touted as more sustainable than other milks. Boasting several nutritious attributes, oat milk has more protein than nut milks and more fiber than any other milk product. This alternative is creamier than most of its counterparts and makes a perfect, rich addition to fruit and vegetable blends for a unique take on a smoothie. It can also be served as an add-on for oatmeal offerings or coffees, mixed into muffin batters, or enjoyed as a stand-alone beverage.
According to Technomic Inc., more consumers now than two years ago say that non-alcoholic beverage offerings are important when deciding where to go for a meal, signifying the value of innovative alcohol-free offerings. Booze-free beverages capture the attention of an array of customers. With a whole world of ingredients to choose from, make your non-alcoholic drinks indulgent, vibrantly hued, and delectable. Elevate alcohol-free beverages with unconventional sodas, house-made tonics, shrubs, fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, seeds, or oats. Menu signature mocktails featuring house-made syrups such as smoky ginger made with sugar, water, ginger, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Or, serve a Raspberry Elderflower Martini with Juniper Berry Simple Syrup that makes for a fruity, colorful, and Instagram-worthy summer mocktail.
An estimated 250 billion plastic cups are distributed each year in cafés and restaurants, giving environmentally conscious customers reason to be concerned about sustainability. With increased awareness, wastefulness is on its way out – straws are becoming vilified while reusability is achieving sainthood. Educate customers about your operation’s efforts to participate in more environmentally responsible practices. For example, serving beverages in biodegradable Greenware® Cups made from plant sources shows customers that you’re committed to protecting the environment.