Google just released its first Beverage Trends Report, which gives a clear picture about what's hot -- and what's cool -- in the beverage world. Using Google Search data, this dive into beverage industry trends looks at four key markets -- the U.S., U.K., Spain and Mexico -- and highlights some fascinating things about what we drink and why we drink it, as well as offering an idea of what we'll find ourselves drinking in the very near future.
Google's Beverage Trends Report reveals the three biggest trends in the beverage world, summed up this way: Process Becomes Primary; Flavors Go Earthy; and More Water, More Premium
Process Becomes Primary
The first trend Google noted in its report is "Process Becomes Primary;" that is, how a beverage is made is increasingly important to consumers or, as Google put it,
"Whether it's driven by health, taste or connoisseurship, we see growing interest in beverages that are defined by the key process through which they are made."
Two process-driven beverages in particular are trending across all four markets studied: cold brews and infusions.
Cold brew is, of course, the process of brewing a beverage, usually coffee or tea, using room-temperature or cold water. The process takes a great deal longer -- 12 to 24 hours -- but the results are noticeable. Cold brew coffee, for example, is said to be less acidic and less bitter, sweeter and more chocolatey and smooth.
More than that, cold brew is easy to make, with the simplest methods requiring nothing more than a gallon container or jug. Given recent years' consumer focus on all things DIY, at-home availability and ease makes cold brew all the more appealing to consumers.
Infusions, like cold brew, are similarly process-driven. Very simply, infusions involve soaking wet leaves or herbs in hot or cold water, which can take anywhere from five minutes to a few hours.
Though infusions are up in all four markets Google looked at, the term "infusions" applies to different things in different parts of the world.
- In the U.S., the most popular infusion-related searches were "bubble," "boba," "ginger," "oolong" and "Thai."
- Across the pond in the U.K., drinkers were searching "bubble," "matcha" and "coffee" the most.
- In Spain and Mexico, top infusion searches included "matcha," "jengibre" (ginger), "chai," "canela" (cinnamon)," "perejil" (parsley) and "hierbabuena" (peppermint).
Flavors Go Earthy
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The second major trend Google defined with its Beverage Trends Report is "Flavors Go Earthy." Consumers are showing increasing interest in "earthy" flavors taking off in all four markets studied, also demonstrating "a wide variety of botanical based beverages are in demand."
These "earthy" flavors capturing the most consumer interest are, in all four markets, kombucha, matcha, oolong tea, chamomile tea, turmeric tea, parsley tea, ginger ale, green tea shot, hibiscus tea, rooibos tea, matcha powder and ginger tea.
Matcha and ginger are generating the most interest currently, but Google's study also makes a few predictions about what's "next" in the world of brewed botanical beverages. Chamomile, turmeric, parsley and dandelion are a few of the earthy flavors Google sees picking up interest.
More Water, More Premium
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The third and final conclusion drawn by Google in its Beverage Trends Report is "More Water, More Premium."
According to Google, "Consumers are seeking water in large quantities, whether it is in gallons, packs, jugs, filters, or delivery. In this section, we seek to understand the behaviors and reasoning for increased demand in accessibility to water that goes beyond the tap" -- more water -- and that the "growth of interest in water is also being fueled by the premiumization of water.
Many of the top trending water searches are related to enhancing water by boosting alkalinity, adding carbonation or using premium water bottles" -- more premium.
The U.S. is leading the way in the interest of "premium water experiences," and, as researchers saw in their first point, process can enhance any beverage, with sparkling and alkaline waters following trends.
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Essentially, Americans are interested in beverages that aren't crafted for them, but are made at home instead. Trendy concepts, like cold brew and infusions, aren't new necessarily, but they've reached new popularity as we've seen countless brands debut drinks that fit into what Americans want.
Here are some ways we've interpreted these trends in our own kitchens.
The report is lengthy, but fascinating -- download it here.