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Flavors for coffee: what's hot for 92.

Flavors, flavors, who's got the flavors. You want a pistachio tutti-frutti? No problem ... somebody can make it for you. Are your tastes more traditionally oriented? Don't worry--you can stick with Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Chocolate or Vanilla, but within those traditional categories you'll still have to make decisions. Do you want a plain Hazelnut or a Hawaiian Hazelnut? Do you want a traditional Vanilla or a French Vanilla? Do you want a sweet Chocolate or a dark Chocolate? What type of Irish Cream do you prefer?

Aside from traditional, established flavors for coffees--what are the up and coming popular flavors? Do fruit flavors such as Raspberry Nut Cream, Peaches and Cream or Creamy Apricot have staying power? Are any flavors being formulated to help a shop owner capitalize on the growing interest in cold coffee beverages?

Flavored coffees allow a wide range of versatility and creativity whether you make your money on coffee by the cup or by the pound. Do you have a favorite dessert recipe? Duplicate it in a dessert coffee blend--Chocolate, Vanilla, Pecan, Coconut ... all the elements are available to allow your individuality to shine through.

Flavored coffee beans can be blended in unlimited combinations and can be called very marketable names, but let's face it, the flavors aren't cheap. So what does a roaster or retailer do when monetary constraints don't allow much experimentation and you want to concentrate flavor inventory and money on proven sellers? You ask the experts what sells.

"Sure, we can make a pistachio tutti-fruitti, if that's what you want," said Michael Boudjouk, president of Medallion International, Inc., "We are very responsive to our customer's needs and wishes and pride ourselves in being innovative with new coffee flavors."

Medallion International has sold flavors to the candy, ice cream, and soft drink industry for years and is accustomed to customer's request for unusual, sweet flavorings. "Our research & development department can produce any flavor that a customer requests and our response time is fast. While we can produce anything, our biggest sellers are in the more traditional range."

Medallion's top sellers are: (1) Hazelnut Cream, (2) All Chocolates, (3) All Vanillas, (4) Chocolate Raspberry and Cream, and (5) Macadamia Nut.

Jeff Nichols, marketing manager of Beck Cafe recommends concentrating flavor inventory within the traditional range, keeping a smaller stock of the less traditional to blend unique flavor combinations. In staying with this philosophy, the company has concentrated on developing traditional flavors that they consider exceptionally good.

Beck's flavor formulas have been developed over years to be especially sweet and rich, like ice cream; this is no accident since they have been in the flavor business for 80 years with 60% of sales in developing flavors for ice cream.

"Our flavors have a distinct creamy note without the cream. You can drink black coffee that has been flavored with our product and still taste the cream note because we have developed a built in enhancer with the flavor. Although our flavors have a creamy, rich taste like you would find in ice cream, the flavorings add no sugar, cream, calories, sodium, or cholesterol," according to Nichols.

Beck's top selling flavors are: (1) Vanilla Nut (2) French Silk (3) Chocolate (4) Irish Cream (5) French Vanilla.

In giving further clarification about his flavors, Jeff describes his top selling Vanilla Nut as "very creamy and our French Silk (like the pie) is a mixture of French Vanilla and Chocolate." In addition, he describes the Chocolate as creamy and sweet and versatile for blending; Irish Cream (with a similar flavor profile as the liqueur) and French Vanilla are also highly recommended for blending with other flavors.

Nichols thinks the two flavors that will grow in popularity are Butter Pecan and Chocolate Macadamia and flavors that would be particularly good cold are Peaches and Cream or Strawberry and Cream.

Flavor and Fragrance Specialties, Inc. can make some really different flavorings for coffee in addition to offering a full range of traditional ones. Robert Maleeny, president, told me that their top sellers are: (1) Hazelnut Cream, (2) Toasted Almond Cream, (3) Vanilla Nut Cream, (4) All Chocolates, (5) All Vanillas, and (6) Irish Cream. (Chocolate Raspberry is conspicuously absent from this listing and Maleeny explained that these were year round top sellers; sales of Chocolate Raspberry are more seasonal with sales concentrated in Spring and Fall.)

The flavors that he sees as real up and coming are: (1) Toasted Nut Fudge, (2) Pecan, and (3) Natural Cinnamon. Some flavors that he thinks are especially good for cold coffee drinks are: (1) Cola, (2) Toasted Almond, (3) Peach Cream, and(4) Mixed Berry.

Maleeny is seeing regional differences in tastes with the West Coast liking high impact flavors. (High impact flavors have a very pronounced taste.) When I asked him if this could be because tastes on the West Coast tended toward a darker roast and the flavorings could be being applied to a darker roast than normally used for flavored coffee he said, "That could be, but what I've found is that tastes (on the West Coast) tend more toward high impact flavor, not a heavier flavor application. If they drink a Chocolate Raspberry coffee, they really want to taste Chocolate Raspberry."

He went on to explain that while high impact flavors were popular on the West Coast, tastes on the East Coast (New England and New York) tended to gravitate more towards more traditional flavors like Chocolate.

These observations on regional taste trends in flavored coffees fit into his basic company philosophy, "We know what makes flavors work. Technical knowledge, marketing, regional differences--we learn from our customers. Our basic company philosophy is that we treat every customer as if they are our only customer; small people are just as important as big people."

Comax Manufacturing Corporation has a different twist to their marketing strategy. While they offer a full range of flavors for coffee, they have been concentrating on developing a natural flavor line to complement the growing interest in organically grown coffee.

According to Laura Calabretta, Comax's marketing director, "Our natural flavor line is derived from plants and plant extract, none of the flavors contain Propylene Glycol." She also indicated that the response has been very positive, especially on the West Coast.

Natural flavors are nothing new, a small selection has been available for years, what makes Comax's natural line different is the inclusion of popular mainstream flavors. A few of these popular flavors are: (1) Vanilla Nut, (2) Vanilla, (3) Hazelnut, (4) Coconut, (5) Liquor flavored (Rum, Kahlua, etc.), (6) Chocolate, and (7) Chocolate Raspberry Cream.

All are available, all are natural, and all come complete (upon request) with documentation certifying the flavors as totally natural.

Comax is developing a brand new flavor that will be unveiled at the Specialty Coffee Association's April meeting in Seattle. Norman Katz, vice president of sales, tells me that this new item "could become a mainstream flavor." (Norman wasn't at liberty to discuss the flavor now but he assured me that when he could, he'd let me know so I could tell you.)

The reigning giant of the flavor industry is Flavor Technology Corporation and according to Mike Kennedy, vice president of sales and marketing, reprsent 75% of this industry segment. The range of flavorings that FTC sells is too long to to fit in this column, but Kennedy gave me a listing of their top sellers for 1991 with a comparison of the flavor's position in sales for 1990. Notice that there is no change in the top four sellers. (see chart)

As for up and coming flavors, he thinks Toasted Almond, all Macadamia Nuts, Cappuccino, Apricot and Cream, and Praline and Cream will find increasing popularity. One flavor he recommends watching is Cinnamon Hazelnut Cream--this flavor is a real comer and will give Vanilla Nut a battle for popularity.

Vanilla Nut has been number one for a long time and it is hard to imagine anything replacing it, but I've known Mike a long time and he really knows his flavors, so I would have to bow to his expertise on this one.

These companies are just a few of the companies manufacturing flavors for coffee (I called several more companies but some companies were unable to get back to me) but I think it gives a good cross section. Flavors with a creamy base continue to be popular, nut flavors continue to prevail and fruit flavors other than Raspberry are beginning to enjoy popularity.

How To Get Started

Want to get started? Sit down with this list and pick out the flavorings that consistently appear in each of these companies top sellers. Once you have done this, CALL AND ASK for samples. Don't know how to flavor or want to know how other companies your size are flavoring coffee? CALL AND ASK one of these companies and find out how it is done. Want to know what sells best in your region of the company? CALL AND ASK one of these companies. One of the many things that impressed me about each of these companies was their willingness to work with small customers. They will give you technical assistance and minimum orders are smaller than you think (in one instance, the minimum is one pound).

I know from experience that you don't need a lot of fancy equipment to start flavoring coffee. If you are small, start with a plastic spray bottle, a food grade bucket, and a stainless steel spoon ... the important thing is to start.

A word to the wise though ... devotion to freshness and quality is just as important in manufacturing flavored coffees as it is unflavored ones. Before flavoring is applied, the coffee should be fresh and high quality. If you flavor inferior, stale coffee, all you will get is inferior, stale flavored coffee and that is an excellent way to lose good customers.

FTC's Top 20 Flavors
1991 1990
(1) Vanilla Nut (1)
(2) All Vanillas (2)
(3) Irish Cream (3)
(4) Chocolate Raspberry & Cream (4)
(5) Hazelnut (6)
(6) All Chocolates (5)
(7) Chocolate Macadamia Nut (8)
(8) Macadamia Nut (11)
(9) Amaretto (7)
(10) Hawaiian Macadamia (10)
(11) Chocolate Almond (9)
(12) Vanilla Hazelnut Cream (14)
(13) Cinnamon Hazelnut Cream (18)
(14) Vanilla Macadamia Nut (12)
(15) Macadamia Nut and Cream (16)
(16) Raspberry Nor available in 1990
(17) Cappuccino Not available in 1990
(18) Cinnamon (13)
(19) Pecan (17)
(20) Apricot and Cream Not available in 1990
COPYRIGHT 1992 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:coffee beans blended with fruit, nut, spice, chocolate flavors
Author:Sturdivant, Shea
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:Column
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Words:1746
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