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Latest Asian Coffee Trends You Must Know

Asia's coffee market is booming. The Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Japan markets are seeing a renewed interest in coffee and coffee-based beverages thanks to leading generations in today's workforce and a series of innovations that have encouraged the sector's growth despite the COVID-19 pandemic.


Recovering economies - and the so-called "new normality" - have brought challenges to the food and beverage industry. Still, support and interest from consumers might just be the key to a fast recovery. At least, that's how it looks for the coffee sector.


From farmers to roasters to online coffee retailers, these are exciting times for the world of coffee. Here are the latest coffee trends in Asia:

Specialty Drinks

Some of the coffee industry's success is backed up by non-stop innovation and the development of new specialty drinks that capture the attention of the younger generation of coffee enthusiasts. Social-media networks have played their part, but so have soft-drink companies, influencing coffee shops and roasters across the continent. These are the specialty drinks coming with full force:


Dalgona Coffee

This unexpected social-media phenomenon that started with the hashtag #dalgonacoffeechallenge invited people to make the Instagramable drink that comprises instant coffee, sugar and warm water. When many major cities had significant mobility restrictions, this homemade specialty coffee brought coffee lovers closer to the frothy drinks they couldn’t enjoy at their regular coffee shops. 


Homemade cold brew might be the next big thing on social networks like Instagram and TikTok.


Non-dairy Coffee Drinks

Many consumers are staying clear of traditional dairy products, as evidenced by the rising consumption of nut milks, soy milk and coconut milk. What started out a few years as a vegan option is becoming standard fare in large and small coffee shops around Asia. A new generation of lesser-known non-dairy milks, including cashew milk and oat milk, are gaining attention. 


Coffee-infused Soft Drinks

Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have launched caffeine-infused cola drinks, and new series of coffee-related products by both companies are under development. The strategy aims to join the ready-to-drink trend that includes energy drinks, caffeinated beverages like pre-made coffee, store-bought cold-brew coffee, and ready-made cappuccinos and lattes.  


Bubbly Coffee

Cold-brew coffee spritzers are all the hype this summer, opening the door to a world of possibilities with gasified ready-to-drink coffee and coffee shop specialties across Asia. The rising craft soda and craft seltzer movements have proven compatible with the versatility of coffee beverages. We expect these fizzy coffee drinks to complement last year's nitro-coffee trend. 


Health Benefits

The better-known health benefits of coffee consumption, including mental focus and mood-enhancement, are highlighted by related products like collagen creamers, turmeric-coffee blends, coconut sugar and monk-fruit extract. The Asian coffee consumer base is drinking coffee to regain energy, lose weight or speed up the metabolism, rather than for the caffeine buzz.

A woman is taking photos on a mobile phone camera of a whipped morning Dalgona coffeeA woman is taking photos on a mobile phone camera of a whipped morning Dalgona coffee

The Next Generation of Coffee Drinkers 

The current generation of coffee aficionados has been impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, with business taken online. Spending hours at a crowded coffee shop is not part of the ‘new normal’, but that isn't preventing coffee aficionados, particularly younger consumers, from enjoying coffee at home. 


Coffee Subscriptions

Coffee subscriptions delivering specialty coffee from micro-roasters to customers' doorsteps are expected to grow this year. Pioneering companies like Coffee and Tales provide such a service in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, South Korea and Vietnam. Other companies, including Perk Coffee, Hook Coffee and Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee, are following suit and now reach most Asian countries. 


Communication Through Social Media

The Dalgona coffee social-media challenge is just the beginning of social-media initiatives. A viral challenge inviting people to make their own whipped cream is one of the newest trends along with cold-brew coffee. Social-media challenges are more than dancing moves, and innovative marketing companies in the F&B industry will be looking to capitalise on them this year for their low cost and high impact. 


Supporting Local Coffee Shops and Roasters

As mobility restrictions established during the health crisis are eased, consumers are returning to their favourite coffee shops. Still, recent polls show that supporting local coffee roasters and coffee shops has increased as consumers try to help small and medium businesses. This may take a toll on big coffee chains as they're regarded as less affected by the economic downturn.

Coffee Sourcing Trends

Increased awareness around the source of coffee is shifting the market to seek sustainable, fair-trade and ecological alternatives, which are perceived as better value. 


Sustainable Farming Practices

Coffee growers are shifting to organic practices more than ever by reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, common in the conventional farming approach. With the help of organisations like the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), producers are gaining organic certifications allowing them to sell their coffee to environmentally conscious coffee-trading companies for a better price. At the same time, the intermediaries are capitalising on these certifications by gaining customer preference in a win-win situation for growers, traders and consumers.


Ecological Packaging

Everything from compostable coffee pods to boxed cold brew, including degradable coffee containers and artisanal coffee bags, will trend through coming years. The aim is to reduce coffee’s environmental impact while providing convenience and a sense of responsibility. Reusable coffee cups and plant-based capsules are gaining momentum, particularly with the increase of online coffee sales. 


Fair Trade 

Organisations like Fairtrade Network of Asia & Pacific Producers capitalised on online education during this year's health crisis with their Fairtrade Asia Coffee Webinar in May. The panel discussed challenges, opportunities and recovery plans for the coffee-producing regions in Indonesia, Vietnam and India. Discussion around the entire supply chain during the COVID-19 crisis have encouraged consumers to adopt more conscious purchasing based on fair trade. 

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