Iced coffee and iced tea are beverage-menu stalwarts that still encourage creative innovations.
As popular as they are, iced coffee and tea can be more than just refreshing pick-me-ups. This icy, often-caffeinated category can be exploited with all kinds of premium, sales-building tweaks. In addition, these icy beverages can be an important part of a takeout program.
According to Datassential, iced coffee is on 15.2% of U.S. menus and has enjoyed four-year growth of 19%, while iced tea is holding steady on more than 71% of menus. New flavors, ingredients, and presentations can build appeal with customers, in particular novelty-obsessed Millennials and Gen Z.
Iced Coffee Innovations
Apart from the category’s standard brewed coffee on ice or trendy cold brew, iced coffee can be offered in lots of exciting ways.
- Using syrups or creamers to add popular flavors like caramel, vanilla, mocha, or chocolate, or seasonal specialties such as peppermint or pumpkin spice
- Serving an espresso-based specialty coffee such as cappuccino, machiatto, or latte over ice
- Introducing on-trend Vietnamese coffee with the help of sweetened condensed milk
- Turning iced coffee into a dessert or sweet snack with additions like whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and/or candy/cookie inclusions
- Freezing coffee into a frappe or smoothie
- Offering high-quality iced coffee year-round, and not just during warmer months
- Adding a supercharge with coffee extract
- Using iced coffee as a base for signature cocktails
- Creating Instagram-worthy presentations such as colorful “tie-dyed” ingredients or intriguing builds
- Experimenting with signature flavors like smoked butterscotch, mocha-mint, or s’mores
Using specials (daily/weekly) and LTOs (limited-time offers) is an effective strategy for introducing and testing elevated iced coffee.
Iced Tea Tweaks
Much of the excitement about iced tea has come with the increasing popularity of on-trend new flavors and inclusions that turn the staid lunchtime standard into a premium signature beverage.
- Flavored iced teas are hot, whether familiar raspberry, lemon, or peach, or more of-the-moment watermelon, mango, hibiscus, or ginger
- Thai iced tea is an increasingly popular variety that includes tea, milk, and sugar
- Spiced chai (black tea with milk and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and clove) is delicious served over ice
- Tea’s health-oriented profile invites variations like iced green tea and “superfood” flavors (pomegranate, blueberry)
- Boba or bubble tea with tapioca pearls is very popular in numerous variations, and works well as a dessert or snack offering
- Iced tea mixed with an equal measure of lemonade is called a Fifty/Fifty, and either or both ingredients can be varied as to variety and flavor
- Speaking of varieties, specialty tea types like jasmine, oolong, or Earl Grey can be positioned as specialty beverages
- Mixing iced tea with orange juice or another fruit juice creates a complex and craveable refresher
- Iced tea can also be incorporated into cocktails, often with a better-for-you profile
- Tea makes a delicious base or addition in smoothies, slushies, and other iced, blended beverages
As with iced coffee, iced tea benefits from promotions in the form of specials and LTOs.
Sources: Datassential SNAP! Iced Coffee (2021); Datassential SNAP! Iced Tea (2021)
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.