Image courtesy of Starbucks
From the Crystal Ball Frappuccino at Starbucks to the Charcoal Latte at Werewolf Coffee Bar in Chicago, foodservice expert Nancy Kruse is witnessing a whole lot of inspirational activity among retailers stirring up eye-popping presentations in the beverage world.

“Eye-popping presentation is very important,” Kruse told attendees at the 2018 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. “It builds buzz and traffic.”

Kruse shared key data points showing that despite high consumer confidence and rising levels of disposable personal incomes in America, restaurants continue to be stuck in recessionary growth mode.

“We’re in a rather challenging environment — a continued state of disruption,” she says. “For the last few years, the consumer environment has been not necessarily positive. So, the approaches to research and development need retooling, including a new approach to menus. The objective is get customers off their couches.”

Starbucks is doing its part. Launched this spring as a limited-time offering from Starbucks, the turquoise peach infusion Frappuccino Crème blended beverage is topped with peach flavored whipped cream and one of three different candy gems that reveal your fortune. “Order, gaze, then all will be told,” according to Starbucks “And while we can’t predict what your gems will reveal, we can tell you this drink is only here for a few short days.”

The candy gems are made of colored sugar — blue for adventurous, green for luck and purple for wonder and enchantment.

Image courtesy of Werewolf Coffee Bar
Another trend that Kruse mentioned is capturing the imagination of young coffee drinkers in America is the charcoal latte.

“The whole premise of a charcoal latte is that it’s a detoxifying drink because charcoal itself is a detoxifying agent,” Werewolf Coffee Bar general manager Lindsey Reason told the Chicago Tribune. “We take some charcoal, half a shot of espresso, honey and lavender, to make it a little more floral and fragrant, and pair that all with some steamed milk.”

Charcoal is made from coal, wood or other substances. It becomes “activated charcoal” when high temperatures combine with a gas or activating agent to expand its surface area, according to WebMD.

Activated charcoal is a potent natural treatment used to trap toxins and chemicals in the body, allowing them to be flushed out so the body does not reabsorb them, according to the “food is medicine” website Dr. Axe. It’s made from a variety of sources, but it’s important to select activated charcoal made from coconut shells or other natural sources.

Recent history of the charcoal latte trend appears to date to mid-2016 Melbourne, according to the Tribune. “But don’t confuse the charcoal latte with the black latte made with sesame seed paste, created at a coffee shop there called White Mojo.”