Iced Coffee Innovation Can Help Large Beverage Chains Find Ways to Expand the Market
Iced coffee drinks have surged in consumer popularity. How can beverage companies use iced coffee opportunities to encourage further market growth? Image source: Andrew E. Weber
Here’s a fun fact: U.S. consumption of iced coffee grew by 75% over the last 2 years, while sales of cold-brew coffee alone more than tripled between 2010 and 2015.1 In a world of options, variations and seasonal specials, iced coffee drinks have become a summer staple. Now beverage chains must find new ways to maintain their growth, developing processes and products to expand the market and win consumers.
Keeping the interest of coffee addicts can be a difficult task, especially when there are so many options available, but innovative companies could focus on increasing convenience and decreasing price when developing new products and processes. In the case of existing products, their R&D laboratories can pinpoint areas that can be further improved, using innovative, cloud-based software to collaborate, lower costs, and keep large amounts of technical data organized and accessible.
A Cold Brew Case Study
Let’s use cold brew coffee as an example. Cold brews present a few complications to companies looking to make production more timely and cost effective. A few questions to ask would be:
- Can the infamous 20-hour cold brewing time be decreased without sacrificing the final product?
By finding a way to successfully decrease the brewing time, beverage chains will have more options. They can choose between maintaining current prices and increasing profits or lowering prices and attracting customers to make more potential sales. Altering the process will require multiple experiments, with the ability to contrast and compare the results effectively.
- Can the coffee to water ratio used during the cold brew process be lowered?
The cold brew process typically uses 2-2.5 times the amount of coffee to water. If laboratories can find a method that decreases the amount of coffee required, companies can minimize required materials and costs. Tracking the resulting brews and ascertaining their flavor profiles will be crucial in determining which products will appeal to consumers.
- Can the amount of caffeine extracted under colder temperatures be increased?
The ability to extract caffeine from coffee grounds decreases proportionally with temperature. A higher coffee-to-water ratio mitigates this issue, but should laboratories succeed in developing a lower required ratio, caffeine amounts will be similarly affected. Altering variables such as grind size, flow rate, and contact time can counter this, but measuring the flavor effects of these factors requires rigorous data management.
Ways Beverage Companies Can Compete Using ELNs
Some of the most well-known coffee companies have begun bottling cold brews and stocking them in grocery stores,2 which allows them to reach a wider consumer base. To compete in this market, companies will need to conceptualize more ways to make iced coffee convenient and cost effective. In order to achieve these aims, their R&D laboratories will require the following capabilities:
- Collaboration between departments: When developing and improving upon coffee beverages, it is crucial for firms to share information and data between their research teams. For instance, if one team succeeds in decreasing the amount of time necessary for the cold brew process, then another team will need to adjust the variables that control caffeine content.
- Boosting of research efficiency: To gain an advantage in an already crowded market, beverage firms need to streamline their R&D workflows so that new products can be brought to market faster. Collaboration is one part of that, but efficiency can also be gained from digital tools that make data management, analysis, and sharing seamless.
- Protection of intellectual property: New coffee formulations and brewing processes can represent significant gains in market advantage. Ensuring that intellectual property is safe and secure can guarantee product integrity. To that end, tools used to collect data from experiments, analyze results, and share information with colleagues should have access controls in place.
Iced coffee has been around for a while and isn’t going anywhere, but more product refinement and improvement is sure to come over the next few years. And as competition within the iced coffee sector increases, focusing on bringing these new formulations and methods to market faster will be the key to gaining market advantage.
BIOVIA Electronic Laboratory Notebooks are digital versions of traditional paper-based systems that can streamline the research and development process, helping laboratories create products that can be brought to market faster. Boasting collaborative tools and powerful features that enable the sharing and searching of information, it increases efficiency and minimizes wasted time resulting from duplicate experiments or inefficient data management. If you’re interested in learning how an electronic lab notebook can benefit your company’s effort to develop sought after beverages, contact us to learn more.
- “Starbucks bets on Nitro cold brew in Chicago, six other U.S. cities,” May 31, 2016, http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-starbucks-iced-coffee-0601-biz-20160531-story.html ↩
- “Starbucks Is Bringing Cold Brew Coffee to Grocery Stores,” June 15, 2016, http://fortune.com/2016/06/15/starbucks-cold-brew-coffee-grocery/ ↩