Califa Farms sells a variety of ready-to-drink iced coffees. All flavors are made with almond milk and carry a non-GMO seal.

Once considered a trendy summer fad, iced coffee has coolly carved a permanent place for itself in the consumer beverage industry, regardless of the season. According to market research firm Mintel International, Chicago, nearly ? of all US adult coffee drinkers sip iced coffee. Within that group, people between the ages of 18 and 24 make up 38% of iced coffee consumers. Mintel’s research also determined that between 2009 and the first quarter of 2013, iced coffee’s share of all coffee on US restaurant and coffee shop menus increased from 19% to 24%. And demand keeps growing, with many people craving a cold coffee fix year round.

This demand is creating a shift in the traditional delivery method. As already-packed schedules become even more jammed, consumers are ditching the café lines and drive-thrus and heading straight toward the C-store cooler, where they can quickly pick up a ready-to-drink (RTD) bottle of their favorite flavored java.

RTD iced coffees offer a logical line extension to food and beverage manufacturers, and several operators launched products in this category earlier this year. New players include donut giant Krispy Kreme, Winston-Salem, NC, which features RTD varieties of Original Glazed Iced Coffee and Mocha Iced Coffee. Ito En North America, Brooklyn, NY, jumped in with its new RTD line of Jay Street Coffee in Latte, Mocha and Vanilla flavors. On the heels of a successful 48-oz iced coffee product launch in 2013, Califia Farms, Bakersfield, CA, released its new dairy-free and soy-free Cold Brewed Iced Coffee single-serve drink in Cocoa Noir, Salted Caramel, XX Espresso, Café Latte  and Mocha flavors. Made with almond milk and carrying the Non-GMO Project Verified seal on the PET, BPA-free bottles, this RTD coffee is expected to grab the attention of on-the-go consumers who have their health and the environment on their minds.
If you’re a retail baker or café owner, it might be worthwhile to stock a cooler with some grab-and-go joes, even if you employ a full-time barista. Chances are that time-crunched customers will appreciate the opportunity to skip the line and remember the gesture when they have time to linger in your shop longer.

Far-out flavors … and butter?

With the demand for iced coffee on the rise, some beverage ingredients suppliers have started experimenting with flavors that could take coffee beyond the standard requests of hazelnut, vanilla, mocha and salted caramel. As international flavors become more mainstream in the US, ingredients suppliers are playing with new flavor options such as cinnamon, lemon, orange and berry.

Bulletproof Coffee claims that adding unsalted, grass-fed butter to low toxin coffee beans will give you an unparalleled energy boost. 

And if you think those flavors are far-out, check out the latest emerging coffee trend: butter in your coffee. According to Dave Asprey, creator of Bulletproof Coffee, adding unsalted, grass-fed butter to low-toxin coffee beans could boost your energy and help you lose weight. Asprey says that the caffeine found in a normal cup of coffee only gives drinkers a short-lived jolt of energy. But his low-toxin Bulletproof Coffee contains a combination of coconut and palm oil, known as MCT oil. This oil has easily digestible healthy fats that keep consumers energized for hours and promotes weight loss. Asprey recommends adding 2 Tbsp of butter to your coffee, and he insists the concoction sips as smoothly as a latte.