During my days in the newsroom, I think I was one of the very few who didn’t always have a cup of coffee at their desk. In fact, when one of my favorite mentors would make a coffee run, he knew to bring me hot apple cider instead. However, when I became a working mom, coffee became a necessity to get through the day (and night). Luckily for me, the same time I became a mom was when cold-brew coffee was carving its niche, and then my life was forever changed.
I’m not the only one who is having a love affair with ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee. In an Insights published in September from Nielsen titled “How the Coffee Category Became a Hot Bed of Innovation for the U.S. Grocery Market,” the market research firm reports that dollar sales for RTD coffee accounted for $3 billion for the 52 weeks ending July 27. That is an increase of 16 percent compared with a year ago.
Some of the growth can be attributed to the amount of innovation coming out of the market. “To quench America’s thirst for their cup of Joe, manufacturers big and small have invested in this space, bringing interesting ingredients and flavors to shelves and highlighting artisanal brewing techniques,” the Insights states.
Citing data from Nielsen Innovation Measurement, 1,019 new coffee beverages were launched in the United States since August 2018, which is 30 percent more than the same timeframe in 2017, the market research firm says.
The innovation hasn’t been limited to the non-alcohol beverage market. Nielsen says coffee’s appeal is transcending to beer and spirits, naming Pabst Blue Ribbon hard coffee and Jägermeister’s new cold brew coffee.
These aren’t the only examples. In mid-September, MillerCoors announced in its “Behind the Beer” blog that the domestic brewer is partnering with La Colombe Coffee Roasters for a hard cold-brew coffee test. Made from medium-roasted Colombian and Brazilian cold-brew coffee, La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffee is available in Black and Vanilla varieties and features a 4.2 percent alcohol by volume.
“We’re thrilled to team up with La Colombe on this exciting launch,” said Sofia Colucci, vice president of innovation at MillerCoors, in the Sept. 9 blog written by Peter Frost. “They bring deep expertise in the category and their focus on quality sourcing, roasting and innovation made them the perfect partner. Millennials are constantly looking for new products to complement their active, busy lives. La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffee does exactly that.”
Nielsen notes that traditional beverage alcohol might not be the only area where coffee is making an appearance.
“And with the continued disruption of cannabis, we anticipate cannabis-infused coffee could also become a popular contender in the foreseeable future,” the Insights states. “New data from Nielsen’s ‘Thinking Beyond the Buzz CBD Study’ (U.S.) 2019 showed that 13 percent of consumers surveyed stated that they would use CBD-infused coffee beans or ground coffee over the next 12 months if it were available.”
I think it’s safe to say that this is no longer your grandmother’s coffee market.