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Top flavors for coffee: a look back, a look forward.

Flavored coffee sales are still growing annually with no signs of leveling off. Some flavor suppliers have hundreds of different flavorings for coffee and more are being developed daily. So how do you know the flavors that show the most staying power and the ones that will be the new, hot flavors? You ask the experts.

Joey Allen, President of Allen Flavors, says that Nut Cream was his most popular flavor in 1992. Right behind in popularity was Sinful Delight, a caramel chocolate combination with cream notes, and Chocolate Raspberry. According to Allen, most of his coffee flavorings have a cream note to give them a rich, sweet aroma and the flavors are not harsh, do not smell like chemicals and have no aftertaste.

Allen thinks that chocolate, nut flavors, and vanilla will always dominate the flavor category and cordial flavors and chocolate blends will continue to rise in popularity in 1993. Allen will be showcasing chocolate and new flavors at the SCAA Conference and Trade Show in Boston.

Jeff Nichols, Beck Flavors' director of marketing and general sales manager-Midwest, said their top seller for 1992 was Vanilla Nut, the same position it held in 1991, and Butter Pecan, new for 1992. Other big sellers in 1992 were Amaretto, Irish Cream, Hazelnut, French Vanilla Chocolate, Cinnamon Hazelnut, Vanilla Cream, Chocolate Hazelnut, Chocolate Almond, and French Vanilla. He sees Cappuccino, Chocolate Cappuccino, Caramel, Pralines and Cream, Cookies and Cream, and Coconut Hazelnut as big sellers in 1993.

Even though Beck has a wide array of flavors to offer, Nichols think that the old standby's seem to be holding their own in sales. ,According to Nichols, "New flavors increase in sales temporarily but traditional flavors have holding power. You can have only so many tastes."

According to Nichols, the taste that sells cold is sweet, "Sweet flavors tend to be very successful in iced coffee products, i.e., Cappuccino, Chocolate Cappuccino, Caramel, Pralines and Cream, Vanilla Nut, Vanilla Creme, French Vanilla Chocolate, and Irish Cream."

Something important to remember about flavoring coffees is that roast colors vary regionally and application recommendations have to be adjusted according to roast color; there is no universal dosage rate. "We have a large technical staff and try to marry the bean/roast/usage rate. Customers send in unflavored beans and our technical support staff can recommend usage rate per bean/roast according to the customer's preference," says Nichols.

The top sellers for Comax Manufacturing are the same for 1992 as they were in 1991, Vanilla Nut, Hazelnut, and Vanillas with Chocolates and Irish Cream rounding out the top five for 1992.

Comax does in depth flavor research and manufactures their own aroma chemicals. "Aroma chemicals are incredibly expensive to purchase and add to flavoring. We manufacture our own aroma chemicals so the 'middle man' is cut out and the savings are passed onto the customers. This availability of aroma chemicals also allow our flavorists more creativity in their work" observes Laura Ferrante, Comax's marketing director.

Comax is putting their research skills toward developing a better tasting chocolate which, according to Ferrante is continually in demand by chocolate loving consumers. "People want a better chocolate because chocolate and coffee have similar chemical components. When brewed, the flavors become almost the same ... that's why consumers are always in search of the perfect chocolate taste and chocolate has developed so many subcategories." Comax has several different types of chocolate but Laura says that the sweet ones are the best sellers, "White Chocolate is a very big seller for us and it is very sweet."

Havor Dynamics is another company that values a good chocolate taste. According to Bill Sieber, director of sales and marketing, Nut as well as Chocolate flavors do well as flavored coffee because nut flavors also share certain ingredients in common with the flavor of coffee and chocolate, "Because certain ingredients are in all of them, the flavors marry well."

Flavor Dynamics top sellers for 1992 were Cinnamon Hazelnut Creme, Vanilla Nut Royale, Chocolate Fudge, Irish Creme Royale, Amaretto Milano, and Pumpkin Spice Royale. Sieber sees Cinnamon Hazelnut Creme as a major flavor in 1993 as well as their Toasted Chestnut Creme and Pumpkin Spice Royale which he describes as "very aromatic." These are but a few of the over 200 flavors offered by this company and all of flavors in their Care Royale line are kosher certified by the organized Kazruth Laboratories of Brooklyn, NY.

Flavor and Fragrance Specialties concentrate on the development of what they call "High Impact Flavors." According to William Palmer, vice president of sales, "Our market research ... indicated a strong customer preference for flavors with impact .... that delivered strong, consistent impact with the title flavor apparent in a well balanced blend, often with creamy undertones. With this information at hand, we set a goal of developing flavors in each category which are not merely stronger, but truly deliver high impact, hence our High Impact Flavors."

Top selling flavors for 1992 are followed in parenthesis by their position in 1991: Hazelnut Cream--All Varieties (1), Irish Cream--All Varieties (6), Chocolate--All Varieties (4), Vanilla Nut Cream-- All Varieties (3), Vanilla--All Varieties (5), Chocolate Raspberry-- all varieties (not listed), Toasted Almond Cream (2).

As to top sellers in 1993, Palmer says "we continue to have tremendous success with Vanilla Nut Cream and its adjunct flavors, Banana, Hazelnut, and Cinnamon. ... we introduced Spicy Egg Nog this year which sold well. Our Pumpkin Spice received rave reviews."

He also has had success with flavors developed for hot coffee beverages working very well in cold drinks. "We have had extraordinary acceptance with our 'Toasted Flavors,' Toasted Almond Cream, Toasted Coconut Cream, and Toasted Nut Fudge. In addition, we have several unique products for cold coffee drinks, Cola, Berry Melody, and Pina Colada as well as an array of fruits such as Peach and Raspberry."

With the vast array of coffee flavorings available, Palmer admits that making a selection can be confusing. "Part of the confusion in the flavor industry is semantics. Names can be the same but flavors vary dramatically." Taste and usage level based on regional preferences are the truest guide to achieving optimum flavor.

Flavor Technology Corporation still represents the largest segment of the flavor industry and have 262 flavors on their product list. They are considered a pioneer in coffee flavors, introducing Vanilla Nut in 1984 and with that introduction, changing consumer's perception of flavored coffee forever. Vanilla Nut is still number one on Flavor Tech's top selling list for the third year in a row but the position of other flavors in their top 20 have changed in the past three years. (see chart)

According to Stephen Lovas, FTC president,, "Anything Nut flavored will continue to gain popularity in 1993 as well as traditional flavors like Chocolates. Chocolate, like Nut, goes well with coffee because the aromatic properties blend well." Although he thinks that Chocolates will dominate in 1993, he also thinks it will be the "ascendency of cordial flavors such as Irish Whiskey and Creme and Cappuccino will take off and move up on the scale."

Some flavors that Lovas particularly recommends for cold coffee beverages are Cappuccino, Hawaiian Hazelnut, Peaches and Cream, Apricot Almond, Raspberry Nut, and Chocolate Raspberry.

With all the different flavors available for a roasters' use, quality control of the flavoring agents can be a problem. According to Lovas, "Once a container's goal is broken, oxygen can cause flavors to degrade. Not as in food degrading, but the flavor profile changes. Volatiles go up into the 'head space' of a container, and wait until the container is opened, volatiles go up in the air and oxygen remains in the can and can cause bitter notes to the flavors." (Head Space is the empty space in a container between the container's contents and the container's top.)

FTC has just perfected a process for sealing their containers called Fresh Seal. In this process, all containers are flushed with nitrogen, the same inert gas use in packaging coffee and potato chips. "Since the nitrogen is heavier than air, the air is forced out of the container, leaving a protective layer of nitrogen on top of the flavor," says Lovas.

He also explained that when the container is opened and the contents are measured out, nitrogen remains in the can. "As a can is tilted to pour, the nitrogen moves to a corner, then the flavor pours over it, and the nitrogen remains. When the can is put back upright, the nitrogen reforms its protective layer," said Lovas. All containers above the one gallon size have spikots, allowing disbursement of the liquid without having to tilt the container.

Mike Boudjouk, president of Medallion International, thinks that the traditional flavors will continue to be popular but that "Fantasy Flavors" will continue to expand. "Our top sellers for 1992 were Hazelnut, Nut Creme, Irish Creme, All Chocolates, and All Vanillas; much as they were for 1992, but we are seeing growth in our Fantasy Flavors also."

This term originated from the fact that, according to Boudjouk, "consumers' palates were becoming more accustomed to flavors and sophisticated to different tastes. As a result, people are coming to us with all kinds of requests for non-characterizing flavors, such as chocolate, coconut and nut." His newest flavor, Pecan Pie, sounds like a fantasy.

Melchers and Company is another company that, when they introduced Nut Cream in the mid 1980's, changed consumers palates forever. Nut Cream is nutty and sweet with a flagrant aroma and is still consistently in Melcher's top sellers. (see chart)

Michael Abrams, Melcher's vice president of sales and marketing, sees a movement toward creamy flavors. "One flavor trend that we have identified and is very apparent, especially after studying our list of top sellers, is the emergence of the cream favor component... Cream notes have the ability to round out the flavor, making the perception richer, smoother and fuller in the cup."

Elaine Lederman, manager of customer service and sales advises to look at fruit flavors and combination fruit flavors like Amaretto Peach to make an impact on cold coffee.

According to Lederman, Melchers will be showcasing new flavors at the SCAA Conference and Trade Show in Boston and she invites customers to come sample the "European" taste of their products. "Our products have a European flavor in that they are subtle but rich. It differs in that it does not have an overly sweet taste."

Although Neil Callahan, vice president of marketing and sales for Robertet Flavors, lists traditional flavors such as Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Chocolate/Mocha Blends and Vanilla Nut as his top sellers for 1992, he sees increasing demand in 1993 for complex blends of fruit/nut and fruit/nut/cream profiles.

According to Callahan, "Nut flavors are very accepted and embraced by consumers. If you have someone who enjoys Hazelnut, give them an alternative taste profile but with Hazelnut in the background for taste and aroma. Consumers tire easily of a one note product." He sees Raspberry/Hazelnut, Strawberry/Walnut, Banana/Nut, Pralines and Cream, Strawberry/Peaches and Cream, and Tropical/Nut as up and coming flavors for 1993.

As for cold coffee flavors, Callahan thinks a Brown Sugar flavor is good. "Brown Sugar is incorporated into flavor systems for cold coffees. Ready To Drink coffee products are already sweetened and the sweetener goes well with certain flavor types. Vanilla/Cream, Caramel, Maple and Brown Sugar/Nut are underlying flavors that blend well with sweet and provide a nice background note."

Callahan feels that Robertet's background in the extraction of flavors gives them an edge in the flavor marketplace. "Isolating and extracting unusual components of a naturally occurring flavor allows more close duplication and therefore creates a more aromatic and natural tasting flavor."

Templar Food Products also see Nut flavors as strong traditionals. According to Susan Brady, a customer service manager, "Our top selling flavors for coffee for 1992 were Cinnamon Hazelnut and Chocolate as compared to 1991 when they were Hazelnut and Chocolate. The trend I see developing among consumers is a desire to enhance the ever popular Nut flavor while retaining the basic Nut taste. I also see any coffee flavor with a cinnamon base as a hot seller for coffee in 1993. Consumers are familiar with the traditional cinnamon flavor, and consider it a welcoming taste. Cinnamon lends itself well to variations and blending with other flavors, from apple to chocolate."

Flavorings that she specifically recommends for cold coffee drinkers are "Irish Creme, Hazelnut, Amaretto, Cappuccino, and most cordial flavorings."

For more information about the above mentioned companies, please contact them directly.
Allen Flavors, Inc.: (908)964-1550
Beck Flavors: (800)851-8100
Comax Manufacturing
Corporation: (800)992-0629
Flavor Dynamics: (908)271-7773
Flavor and Fragrance Specialties:
Flavor Technology Corporation:
Medallion International: (201)427
Melchers and Company: (800)
Robertet Flavors: (908)561-2181
Templar Food Products: (908)665
COPYRIGHT 1993 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Sturdivant, Shea
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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