In honor of Willamette Week's “26 Reasons To Love Portland Right Now” we present our list of 16 great trends blowing up right now in the world of delicious coffee.
1. High-quality coffee is coming to cities across America in a big way.
From Waco to Amarillo, Richmond, VA to Spokane, we're seeing a generation of young, ambitious people moving in or moving back to smaller cities across America and opening seriously exciting coffee bars. And thanks to those small town rents, the build-outs are simply stunning.
2. Darker roasts are okay again, and light roast is just fine too.
Roasters around the world are embracing a full spectrum of roasts, and the light roast craze has matured into something careful, intentional, and tasty. There's such a thing as a well-sourced, nuanced dark roast just as much as there's a fantastical and wild light roast – and everything between. While opinionated neck-beards will argue, we think a diverse range of delicious coffees is a magical thing.
3. In cafes, soy milk is out. Artisan and/or house-made nut-milk is totally in.
Freshly squeezed almond milk, supple and sweet hazelnut milk, and even kefir-infused cashew milks are showing up at some of the finest coffee bars.
4. Milkshakes are back in style.
Rejoice! Coffee bars like Intelligentsia Logan, Go Get Em Tiger, G&B Coffee, and many more are serving decadent, delicious coffee milkshakes with aplomb. Our own editor Zachary Carlsen has lectured on his love for frothy, creamy coffee shakes at Barista Nation events around the country. We can't get enough. Don't hate, celebrate.
5. Boutique brand ready-to-drink coffee is a market on the brink of exploding.
You'll find Blue Bottle‘s New Orleans Iced Coffee next to Stumptown Coffee‘s cold brew stubby at national grocery stores like Whole Foods, along with a range of awesome, local Ready to Drink cartons and bottles of delightful coffees. More companies continue to partner with bottling companies and it's a trend that's really buzzing.
6. We're riding the next wave of terroir and variety experimentation at origin.
What does that even mean? It means let go of your preconceived notions of what coffees from specific regions taste like. Progressive producers are borrowing methods and exploring growing practices from other parts of the world. Those who succeed end up with award-winning and game-changing coffees.
7. Some of the strongest boutique coffee brands are expanding in big ways.
Verve, Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle, La Colombe, Kaldi's, and Counter Culture Coffee are all drafting expansion plans as we write this article, and in the next five years, expect to see even more growth for these well-regarded “big-but-still-small” coffee roasting companies with a commitment to cup quality.
8. Coffee with cream and sugar is cool again.
Who says coffee should only be enjoyed black? Go Get Em Tiger‘s new ‘coffee regular' option got them written up by the LA Times. People love this stuff, and cafes across the world are re-embracing the practice.
10. The best coffee shops are serving the very best in ooey-gooey hash-tag delicious pastries.
Want to find the best pastries in town? Find the best cafes in town—the synergy between great coffee and delicious baked goods has never been stronger. Coffee bars are teaming up with award-winning artisans for exclusive collaborations. Some go even further, like San Francisco's The Mill, who share space with an in-house baker while shops like NYC's BoxKite has a resident pastry chef.
11. There are career paths for dedicated coffee professionals these days.
Don't believe us? Check this out.
12. Good food is finally coming to North American cafes.
As much as we love the Morning Glory Bran Muffin, many cafes are exploring fine food alternatives. Some of our favorite cafes are experimenting with small plates, artisan baked goods, in-house chefs, curated cheese boards, table-service, and dynamic toast programs. Or you could head off to cities like Melbourne, Wellington, or London, where excellent food options are a mainstay at many of the best cafes.
13. Asia is in the middle of a coffee consumption renaissance.
Japan has almost as long a history of coffee consumption as America, though the high-end of that market has really been heating up recently. Elsewhere, quality coffee is exploding in places like Hong Kong, while coffee in Korea is only becoming more incredibly fascinating. Starbucks is so excited for the potential in the Chinese market that they've even gone as far as buying coffee farms in the country to ensure adequate supply.
14. High-end coffee equipment has gotten positively drool-worthy.
The clean lines, the pressure, the heat, the passion. From Modbar to Alphadominche to Kees van der Westen, and everywhere in between, the hardware used to make coffee has become serious art in its own right.
15. Collaboration between coffee and other food and beverage industries is finally happening.
More and more coffee shops are opening with serious drinks programs, from alcohol to juice to kombucha, and more and more collaboration is happening between professionals across these industries all the time. Chef Hugh Acheson actively seeks out quality coffee for his restaurants, coffee industry stalwart Chris Schooley is opening a barley maltery, the US Bartenders Guild just hosted a seminar on Irish Coffees at Four Barrel. Truly, the times they are a-changing.
16. Coffee has never been more delicious.
The coffee you have access to at this very moment has never been grown, packed, shipped, stored, roasted, and packaged better. And with today's cafe thought-leaders and a whole slew of eager young service bucks, it's never been brewed better, either. But the best part? That coffee you're drinking will only get more delicious from here on out.