Food and Beverage Firms Can Utilize Lab Software to Help Expand Coffee’s Sphere of Influence

Food and Beverage, Lab Informatics

food and beverage
In addition to becoming a signature drink, what new and interesting things can food and beverage companies do with coffee?
Image source: Flickr CC user Susanne Nilsson

Coffee has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a simple breakfast beverage. In fact, you could say it’s grown beyond the basic purpose of providing a morning caffeine boost. These days, specialty coffee drinks have become signature seasonal offerings geared toward attracting new customers. Surely everyone’s heard of the pumpkin spice latte by now.

The numbers don’t lie. Coffee makes up a $48 billion market. From Starbucks developing cold-brew coffee to the introduction of fizzy, beer-like nitro coffee, food and beverage companies have spent the past several years finding ways to innovate this basic drink.1 But when new product offerings are largely beverage-driven, what about people who appreciate the flavor of coffee but don’t like the actual drink itself? Is there a way food and beverage companies can deliver its subtle undertones?

Moving Coffee from the Beverage Market and into Food Offerings

Despite being such a large market, the coffee sector can be volatile. Prices fluctuate depending on the availability of raw materials. As an example, a drought in Brazil can cause the cost of Arabica beans to skyrocket.2 To better weather this instability, food and beverage firms should diversify their product offerings, providing the taste of coffee in more than one format. For instance, they could develop more coffee-flavored foods.

Introducing coffee flavors into food products isn’t a revolutionary concept. Many recipes already incorporate it. One of my favorite desserts, tiramisu, uses coffee as a major ingredient. A couple of my friends even add it to chili. As demonstrated by how vastly different those two dishes are, coffee is more versatile than you’d expect. Firms can capitalize on that range when formulating new products.

Food and Beverage Firms Can Create a Wide Range of Coffee-Flavored Products

The secret to coffee’s adaptability lies in the fact that the beans must first be roasted. That roasted flavor is what adds the unexpected depth and complexity to dishes.3 For that reason, it can serve as a nice compliment to meat—a trait that companies can exploit to their advantage when developing products. Instead of pre-packaged coffee cake, what about coffee-flavored jerky? Consumers can enjoy that rich taste but with added protein instead of sugar. Or for even more flexibility, it can be used to flavor marinades and rubs to target the barbecue enthusiast.

But if companies want to focus on more traditional snack foods, there’s still room beyond cakes and cookies. This fall has brought us coffee-flavored chips, after all, and that is a combination I never expected to see. Because the current food environment favors creative and unexpected uses of flavors, firms can push the limits with experimental combinations. The key is to remember that with sweet foods, coffee can serve as a flavor enhancer that ramps up taste without adding calories. In addition, its bitter taste can balance the sugary sweetness that characterizes many desserts, thus appealing to a more mature palate.

Given the wide range of coffee-flavored food products that can be developed, food and beverage companies will need the right set of tools to manage the experiments required to test new formulations and to mine the resulting data. To stay competitive, firms must maintain a fast R&D cycle that prioritizes innovation. BIOVIA Experiment Knowledge Base can provide support to food and beverage firms by aiding experimental planning and design, improving workflow efficiency by its ability to track samples and procedures, and allowing users to visualize and analyze results. Contact us today to learn more.

  1. “Coffee’s influence expands to savory, sweet foods,” October 26, 2015, http://nrn.com/food-trends/coffees-influence-expands-savory-sweet-foods
  2. “Smucker turns to US retail coffee business innovation for profitability,” November 9, 2015, http://www.fooddive.com/news/smucker-turns-to-us-retail-coffee-business-innovation-for-profitability/408846/
  3. “Cooking with coffee is savoury dishes: From baked beans to roast meats, a cup of joe can be a dark and delicious pick-me-up,” April 10, 2014, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/cooking-with-coffee-in-savoury-dishes-from-baked-beans-to-roast-meats-a-cup-of-joe-can-be-a-dark-and-9236759.html

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