Chances are if you’ve been anywhere on the internet in the last couple of years you have caught a glimpse of viral coffee trends that have been making the rounds. Some notable inclusions are glitter lattes, Dalgona whipped coffee, and the more recently trending orange juice espresso. If you’re already a hard-core coffee lover the appeal of some of these beverages, particularly the dalgona which has as much sugar as coffee, can be somewhat confusing. Let’s dive into some of the reasons why these drinks have gained so much traction on the internet and how we can learn from them.
1. Visual Appeal
We eat with our eyes first, and one thing that glitter lattes, colorful lattes, loaded frapes, and Dalgona coffee all have in common is their visual appeal. A patron must first purchase a beverage before they can taste it and determine whether or not they enjoy it, and aesthetically pleasing products are simply more likely to be purchased.
Like a child who assures you they do not like a particular vegetable, despite never having tried it, it is human nature to make a presumption about a product based on how it appears before we taste or try it. This presumption has more power than we give it credit, as it often carries with it a placebo effect and does influence our overall perception of any given product. This is why latte art is such an important skill for aspiring baristas to have.
Newness carries its own appeal, particularly when the “new thing” is unique or carries an unusual component to it. For example, the Dalgona coffee, which is whipped, has a unique texture that you will not find in other coffee beverages. Edible glitter, which was invented in the 1960’s hasn’t had much use outside of cake decorating until the spawn of the glitter latte.
The orange juice and espresso combination is one that sounds unconventional and peaks interest simply because it doesn’t sound that appealing, and yet… It is!
This delight in novelty for the consumer is something that industries of all kinds have capitalized on with holiday-themed merchandise or special-edition varieties of just about anything. We do it because it works.
Human beings are social by nature. Eating together and sharing with one another is apparent in cultures all over the world. Now, in the digital age, it is easier and faster to share our experiences to a much wider audience. There is a small thrill when an experience you shared online is re-created and shared again by someone else.
We crave community so we can learn and grow and have purpose. Since the pandemic, more and more people are seeking community online, they are sharing photos of things they eat, drink, try, and buy. This is an excellent opportunity for businesses to join in the online community, to develop a strong online presence and to engage with your customers and encourage them to share their experiences with your business online. We’ve even heard of a cafe installing specialty lighting so that their customer’s photos of lattes and burgers will be perfect every time. Their instagram is flawless.
Taste. Obviously this is a major component to a coffee beverage being re-purchased or re-created. If something tastes terrible the chances of it becoming and staying popular are slim. This may be why the glitter-latte trend lost it’s steam, as there is a distinctive aftertaste to the artificial colors used in the edible glitter.
It’s important to recognise that not everyone enjoys the flavor of coffee, even good quality specialty coffee. There are those amongst us who dislike the flavor of coffee but enjoy the effects of caffeine, and for those people there is sugar.
The dalgona coffee is half sugar and half instant coffee powder that is whipped slowly with hot water to produce a sugary foam. This combination is one that I struggle to accept as actually being coffee, it sounds simply vile, yet I recognise that it did gain popularity and praise, likely because a lot of people just love sugar.
Big franchises capitalize on the love-of-sugar amongst the masses by offering a slew of flavored sugary beverages with seasonal twists. It’s worth noting that unlike larger franchises, smaller independently owned cafes often use specialty coffee or a local coffee roaster and are serving coffee that has been brewed from fresh (not stale or burned) beans. This could be why many Australians who DO love coffee prefer to get it from smaller cafes rather than big franchises.
Speaking of flavor, let’s touch on the espresso and orange juice trend. This is one that I am actually quite fond of myself, as I feel it enhances, rather than hides, the flavor of coffee. It is true that orange juice is very sweet and certainly does the job of sweetening a coffee. However, the acidity in the orange juice plays very nicely with a darker roast of espresso. The balance of acidity and bitterness is pleasing and highlights, rather than hides, the flavor notes of the coffee itself. It’s quite refreshing.
With flow profiling it is even easier to find the perfect balance between acidity and bitterness within the coffee itself. With the right extraction of quality beans you can convert even some of the sugar lovers to a neat filter brew. The Mina and Zero both feature our patented flow profiling technology, making it easy and accessible to customize your menu to feature local specialty roasts and seasonal coffees.
It is outside of our ability to control who does and doesn’t like the flavor of coffee, however, there are things we can do to ensure we are providing a satisfactory experience to all. Ensuring your barista has the time and practice needed to perfect their latte art. Having at least one drink on the menu available for those who don’t like the flavor of coffee, like a high quality chocolate for mochas. Fostering a community spirit with your online presence and customer service. And creating quality beverages that taste amazing.