8 Drinks Menu Predictions for Spring & Summer 2021

Deriving insight from remarkable circumstances

It goes without saying that 2020 was an anomaly of a year. To gain true insight into the likely trends for 2021 and beyond requires an analysis of both fundamental COVID-derived shifts in consumer behaviour, whilst selectively picking up where 2019 left off.

By way of example, the rapid growth in alternative mylks carries over from pre-COVID times, with evolving expectations. On the other hand, the increased need for operational simplicity and heightened interest in immunity-boosting ingredients is derived directly from our experiences of the pandemic.

To this end, we have referenced both 2019 and 2020 research in our predictions for Spring/Summer 2021, a year that remains uncertain, but hopeful.

1. Alternative Mylks

You'd be hard-pressed to find a cafe that hasn't already responded to the rise of plant-based mylks. But now it's time to get your oat and almond drinks working harder for you by creating a broader menu of dairy-free recipes.

According to Kerry's 2020 European-wide analysis:

  • three out of ten consumers are seeking vegan options for milkshakes (33%), hot chocolate (29%) & coffee (29%)
  • a quarter of consumers under 35 choose plant-based mylks on a regular basis
  • one in three consumers believe that plant-based mylks (oat and nuts) add more flavour to drinks than cow's milk
  • Oat Mylk is now the preferred dairy alternative (23%)

Our Top Tips for 2021

  • Update your menu to fulfill the anticipated demand for more indulgent plant-based beverages such as milkshakes and frappés. (Check out our recipes deck for inspiration)
  • Upskill your baristas on plant-based mylks and how to achieve the very best texture.

2. Tea and Naturality

We are increasingly hearing the term 'Natural' when it comes to consumer preferences. In fact, according to Mintel 2020, this drive for 'Naturality' has overtaken 'healthy' as a key product attribute:

  • 8 in 10 consumers are interested in products that contain more natural flavours
  • 65% of consumers believe that natural teas & infusions are a good alternative to sugary soft drinks
  • 90% consume tea on a regular basis
  • 2 in 5 would be interested in trying cold infusions

Our Top Tips for 2021

  • Review your tea offering to ensure a broad range of on-trend flavours are available
  • Get creative with hot and cold tea-based drinks recipes (See our Seasonal Recipes Deck for inspiration)

3. Health and Immunity

It's no surprise that we ended 2020 with a heightened appreciation for our personal wellbeing, but what exactly does this mean for cafe operators?

Below are the key findings from Kerry's Global Consumer Survey - Digestive & Immune Health

  • 56 of European consumers have made changes to their diets and lifestyles in order to improve their immune system.
  • 7 in 10 consumers would consider using immune health products
  • Consumers most often look for immunity health boosts at breakfast time.
  • The top 6 ways in which consumers wish to supplement their immune health are yoghurt/yoghurt based drinks (47%), fruit and vegetable juices (44%), milk and non-dairy drinks (31%), supplements (31%), cereal/granola/breakfast bars (29%) and hot beverages (28%)

Our Top Tips for 2021

  • Include some immune-boosting teas and smoothies on your drinks menu
  • Leverage (where relevant) the perceived importance of a healthy breakfast with a nutritious breakfast menu and promotional offers.

4. Real Fruit

Nothing beats the colours, flavour and aroma of fresh fruit in a chilled drink. According to Mintel 2020 (Europe) and Kerry Consumer Research 2019 (Europe):

  • one in three consumers would like to try soft drinks with real fruit juice or botanical extracts
  • fruity flavours are perceived as being more natural and appealing
  • half of consumers say they are always looking for new types of coffee to try
  • fruit and coffee are increasingly being paired together in the cold brew category

Our Top Tips for 2021

  • For operational ease and cost-effectiveness, use real fruit concentrates, teas and infusions as the base of your fruity drinks, then garnish with real fruit pieces. (Check out our recipes deck for inspiration)
  • Experiment with fruit flavours in cold brew teas and coffees (See below for further information on cold brew)


We all know the phrase "you eat with your eyes". And never has it been more important for your drinks and dishes to look good than in this Instagram-crazy age.

Mintel's 2019 research cites that:

  • 33% of European 16 – 24s like to share pictures of products they consume on social media
  • Consumers love the freedom to personalise their drink to their own taste e.g. Choose your base/ indulgent vs healthier shake
  • Simple changes and twists on an original can drive 'talkability' amongst consumers

Our Top Tips for 2021

  • Use this as an opportunity to experiment and get your customers talking. Challenge your baristas to create the most insta-worthy drink on the menu.
  • Invest in colourful natural ingredients such as Beetroot and Turmeric latte powders, or Japanese Matcha, to make your drinks stand out.

6. Cold Brew

Europeans are finally warming to cold brew. Mintel cites that 40% of German cafes are now offering it on their menus. In the UK, demand continues to rise too. Absolute Roasters in Glasgow's West End for example, have seen such a surge in interest that their home-made cold brew now has cult status across the city.

  • Cold brew offers an opportunity to strike a balance between delivering on taste and being 'better for you'. Millennials are particularly interested in expanding their coffee drinking habits
  • Dairy-free indulgence can also be delivered alongside cold brew, with 29% of consumers seeking vegan options in their coffee.

Our Top Tips for 2021

  • Determine the best cold brew coffee solution for your business, whether that be a home-made brew (using a Toddy cold brewer for example) or a pre-brewed batch from which you can instantly dispense (such as our Minor Figures bag-in-box).
  • Once you are up and running, expand your repertoire with infusions, syrups and cold foams, changing with the seasons. Why not try cold brew tea as well! (Ask your account manager for the latest recipes!).
  • Consider Nitro as an extension to your offering, (The Nitro DP brewer extracts nitrogen from the air to create a slightly effervescent texture - ask your account manager for details!)

7. The Shared Need for Simplicity

No consumer wants to hang around longer than necessary in the queue, and no operator wants to slow down the speed of till spend, so the fewer the steps and the speedier the serve, the better.

  • Barista friendly concepts: it remains critical to deliver a more efficient service to consumers, free from complication
  • The Lipstick Effect: As a recession looms, simplicity will help deliver affordable luxury for consumers as they seek indulgence alongside value for money
  • Simple Freedom: Consumers welcome concepts that can be easily tailored to their taste (e.g. hot or cold, dairy or plant-based)

Our Top Tips for 2021

  • Create your capsule wardrobe of ingredients - a compact range of core ingredients that can be served hot or cold, dairy or dairy-free, layered up with other ingredients, or kept simple. Train your staff thoroughly in executing every drink with operational perfection. (Ask your account manager for our seasonal recommendations and recipes, as well as training tips)
  • Understand your cost of serve, affordability and margin potential before settling on your menu choices. (Our seasonal recipes come with margin matrices. Ask your account manager for details)

8. Post-COVID Opportunities

According to Mintel 2020 there is opportunity in adversity:

  • Eating out as a regular luxury: 35% of European consumers say eating/drinking OOH is the #1 thing to do post lockdown.
  • Transportable take-away products: 37% of UK consumers agree that ordering coffee for delivery is more convenient than visiting a coffee shop
  • Easy Prep: Concepts that are efficiently prepared will help shorten queuing time in cafés as consumers grapple with social distancing as the norm

Our Top Tips for 2021

  • Continue to be flexible and innovative. From seated service to take-away and delivery, you'll be expected to offer a variable service again in 2021. Can your drinks menu, and ingredient base, flex as needed?
  • Prep is key. Drill your staff on set ways to prepare and deliver the drinks menu to ensure speed and consistency that will keep your customers coming back.

You've already made it through 2020. Here's to a better 2021.

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