Going Global? Don’t Forget the Beverages

Monday, March 1, 2021

Don’t forget beverages when you expand your menu with global flavors. From aquas frescas to Thai iced tea, exotic beverages match up with exotic cuisines. Patrons love them. 

Three bubble teas
©iStock.com/Kongphop Petwichai

Customers are more interested than ever in global flavors and ethnic experiences. In fact, according to Technomic, 24% of consumers are trying more unique types of ethnic food and beverages than they were two years earlier, a number that rises to 35% for 18- to 34-year-olds. And while menumakers may focus on the food side of the menu, 70% of consumers agreed that operators who offer ethnic foods should also offer beverages from that cuisine. Younger consumers show the most interest in global thirst-quenchers, with 43% saying they would consider ordering one.

Cafézinho (Brazilian-style coffee) – A traditional beverage of welcome in Brazilian culture, cafézinho is made by boiling water with sugar, then adding ground espresso. The resulting mixture is then poured through a coffee filter and served like espresso.

Thai iced tea – Sweet, spicy, and creamy, this indulgent iced tea is flavored with sugar, vanilla, cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon, and enriched with sweetened condensed milk or coconut milk.

Horchata – This refreshing plant milk from Mexico by way of Spain is usually made with rice, sugar, and water, but can also be made with barley, melon seeds, or even sesame seeds. Horchata is often flavored with vanilla and cinnamon, and is generally served very cold, making it an ideal accompaniment to spicy foods.

Mexican Hot Chocolate – Comforting and indulgent, the Mexican version of hot cocoa is flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, and is often served topped with whipped cream. Some fans add a pinch of hot chili powder to keep things interesting.

Licuado (a.k.a. batido) – Ubiquitous throughout Latin America, these colorful blended beverages are similar to smoothies, and are made with fruit juice diluted with milk or water, then blended with ice. Popular varieties include melon, pineapple, hibiscus, tangerine, papaya, and more

Vietnamese coffee – Rich, flavorful, sweet, and perfect on a cool day, this iconic morning pick-me-up consists of strong brewed coffee with a layer of sweetened condensed milk on the bottom of a glass mug for stirring through. Vietnamese coffee can also be served over ice.

Lassi – A popular traditional dahi (yogurt-based drink) that originated in the Indian Subcontinent, lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices such as cardamom, and sometimes fruit, including mango, banana, or strawberry. There are also lassi drinks that are salty, spicy (flavored with ginger, cilantro, and chile), and savory (often made with cumin).

Aqua Fresca – Extremely popular throughout Mexico, aguas frescas (literally fresh waters) are made from one or more fruits or flowers blended with sugar and water. Popular varieties include watermelon, grape, cantaloupe, guava, cucumber, tamarind, passionfruit, and lemon. Chia seeds blended with vegetables are another type of aqua fresca.

Bubble tea – Also known as pearl milk tea, bubble milk tea, or boba, this tea-based drink made with chewy tapioca balls (“boba” or “pearls”) first originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s, but has become much more popular here. Bubble teas fall under two categories: teas (without milk) and milk teas (which can be made with condensed milk, powdered milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, 2% milk, skim milk, or fresh milk). Both varieties can be made with black, green, or oolong tea, in a variety of flavors, from peach or green apple, to chocolate, taro, or almond.

Caffè Shakerato – Hailing from Italy, this refreshing caffeinated refresher consists of freshly made espresso, simple syrup, and lots of ice, shaken vigorously until a froth forms. It is usually strained while being poured into a martini glass or another stemmed glass.

Source: Technomic Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report (2018)

The information provided is based on a general industry overview, and is not specific to your business operation. Each business is unique and decisions related to your business should be made after consultation with appropriate experts.