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That was the year that was, and what a year it was.

That was the year that was, and what a year it was

Last year in my January column, I wrote about "Coffee in the Next Decade: Upcoming Trends." I thought long and hard about the changes in the trends that I was seeing in the coffee business and I shared my thoughts with you. Although I commented on many different trends, the ones particularly emphasized were espresso, coffee concentrate, and iced coffee; and from that column:

* The 90's will be the year for espresso in the U.S. . . . sales will increase, machines will become simpler operationally and you'll begin to see espresso machines everywhere.

* Coffee concentrate, whether prepared commercially or at home, will enjoy greater popularity in the 90's.

* Coffee based soft drinks and coolers will become stiff competition for iced teas and colas.

I felt very strongly that these areas would experience tremendous growth over the next 10 years. Espresso (the beverage and the machinery), coffee concentrate, and iced coffee had been around for decades and the time was right for some sort of breakthrough in technology, packaging, and/or marketing. Even I was amazed at just how much happened in these three areas after just one year into the decade.

Espresso

Pick up a magazine, you read about how espresso is made; leaf through a food magazine and you get recipes for espresso drinks; read a newspaper and hear all about the local coffeehouses and how they roast their own coffee and blend it especially for espresso; walk to the nearest busy corner in a major metropolitan city and get espresso or cappuccino from a coffee cart--expresso is everywhere.

Liquid Coffee Concentrate

Although I have long been a believer in liquid coffee concentrate's value and versatility, I was truly surprised to see General Foods begin testing a liquid coffee concentrate, Maxwell House Brewed Coffee Concentrate. The product is stored in the dairy case and to prepare the coffee, the consumer measures out the desired amount of concentrate, adds water and then microwaves it if it is to be served hot and adds ice cubes if it is to be served cold.

Concentrate, particularly flavored concentrate, can provide iced coffee's entree into the foodservice world especially if the product can be developed so that it doesn't require refrigeration.

Iced Coffee

I was pleased with the growth of espresso's cup sales and gratified to use espresso machinery that one could understand. I was surprised that someone of the magnitude of General Foods took the risk on coffee concentrate (a smart maneuver) but I was downright amazed at the number of companies who entered the iced coffee arena.

Advertising Age, in its May 21, 1990 issue said that iced coffee may be the "product of the decade" and lists five companies that are producing a cold coffee beverage. These companies include major players as well as smaller coffee marketers. They go on to say that "major markets are racing to capitalize on what industry experts say could become a $1 billion business by the year 2000." And while five companies are mentioned, I know of many more who have plans for cold coffee drinks on the drawing boards or are testing an iced coffee product in the laboratory.

Iced coffee is just now getting media attention but it is not exactly a new kid on the coffee block.

Iced coffee has shown to be a popular European item and will continue to grow in importance to American coffee manufacturers who are looking for a cold coffee beverage to attract the younger consumer who prefers the heavy, sweet, taste of a cola to the taste of a hot cup of coffee.

I have to admit though, espresso's high visibility last year and its resultant increased sales surprised me the least. Long a tradition in Europe, espresso became de rigueur for hip, cultured, coffeehouse patrons in America in the 50's. Sales increased slowly over the next 30 years and began to gain real momentum in the 80's as gourmet coffee was "discovered" by a broader base of American consumer.

I don't have any hard and fast statistics about espresso's growth during the past year, but I travel quite a bit and order espresso in every city I visit and I'm usually able to get it. This is not to say that I have had a lot of good espresso, in fact, some of it was downright awful, but the point is, it's everywhere.

The increasing availability of espresso in restaurants, bakeries, deli's, mall carts, offices and homes leads me to believe that it has become firmly entrenched in certain geographical regions in the U.S. and is slowly but surely wading out into the mainstream of America. Shopkeepers, restaurants owners and consumers who are lovers of espresso and who enjoy serving and imbibing the beverage, don't necessarily feel the same way about the espresso machine.

Espresso Machines

It has long been a commonly held belief that to own, operate, or even walk in close proximity to an espresso machine, you had to be some sort of a mechanical genius. Well, "it ain't necessarily so!" This past year, I learned that espresso manufacturers are developing user-friendly machines. Last year, in the August issue of this magazine, I reviewed a simple, basic machine with a built in grinder that made freshly brewed espresso from whole bean coffee with a touch of a button ("Restaurant Espresso Isn't Bad, It's Just Made That Way"). This machine is only one of many available on the market and since that review, I have heard from other equipment manufacturers about their easy-to-operate espresso machines that produce a quality cup. This year I plan on reviewing as many machines as I can fit in my kitchen because if last year brought a lot of advances in espresso technology, I can't wait to see what this new year brings.

The battle for shares of the iced coffee market will escalate as more competitors are entering the arena. In my opinion, flavored coffees will play a big role in determining the winners and the better the flavor, the bigger the sales. If consumers try a new product, they want it to taste different, and a Hazelnut Cream Coffee Cooler or Mocha Mint Cappuccino certainly fits the bill as being different.

Sometime this year, I plan to do an in-depth article on cold coffee beverages available on the market and I gladly solicit samples. If you would like to be included in my survey and hear my two cents on your product, send me literature and samples of the product and I'll try it.

Equipment--Smaller But More Sophisticated

Something that was not commented on last year was the downscaling in size of commercial coffee grinders and the increasing attractiveness of some commercial coffee brewers. During this past year, I saw grinders for food service and OCS use that held one pound of coffee in the hopper, and wrote about a brewing system that had an electronic circuitboard as a "brain" (October, 1990, "Cafe 98: Good, Better, Best"). I saw absolutely beautiful brass and copper coffee brewers, having previously thought that coffee brewing appliances (besides espresso machines of course) could not have real beauty, but I was wrong.

As always, I will be reviewing equipment this year and if you have something that is "new and improved" and want me to take a look at it, send me written information and then let's talk about it.

Another area that I will continue to concentrate on will be employee education. You and I both know that you can have the finest product, equipment and location but if you don't have well informed, interested employees, you will rarely be successful and will frequently be embarrassed (December, 1990, "Hawaiian Flavored Coffee").

Please continue to give me your input as to topics you would like to see covered; the main purpose of this column is to educate and if you don't tell me what's important to you, I can only cover what's important to me and I'd rather cover topics important to both of us. Let's stay in touch.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:coffee trends for the '90's
Author:Sturdivant, Shea
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Article Type:column
Date:Jan 1, 1991
Words:1350
Previous Article:Dioxin in filters: a 1991 update.
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