Coffee drinkers don’t need many reasons to get their regular cup every day. If you love it, you keep going back. Baristas though are always pushing to find the thing that will make their coffee better or bring something new to draw in new customers. Here are a few examples of how they’re pushing the boundaries of the humble coffee.
It’s unsurprising that water has become a significant trend in coffee. The cup you consume so regularly is mostly water. Poor water quality will affect the flavour of your brew. To this end, baristas are starting to obtain water from particular sources to guarantee quality. Others are going a step further and looking into the science of it all and identifying the mineral content of their water. From here they determine and even blend waters to maximise mineral content that will enhance distinct flavours of the brew. The signature taste isn’t just the roast and the grind anymore.
Rainbow latte art
Latte art has been around for a while. Baristas use milk to make hearts, flowers and all manner of other designs in the crema of your latte. The newest twist to latte art is the incorporation of colour. Adding edible colourings to the milk changes the monochrome latte art into an incandescent display. Originally used as a way to train baristas and show more clearly what the faults in pouring technique were, it has now become a sensation in some cafés.
Ever had a pint of Guinness from an Irish Pub? Notice the way the bubbles cascade and eventually coalesce into a thick velvety head? This is because instead of just using carbon dioxide to dispense the beer it uses a special tap with a mix of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. This produces smaller bubbles that are more dissolved. Some clever baristas have taken the idea and applied it to cold press coffee. Using the same tap and gas combination, the coffee is dispensed with a velvety gas-enriched crema. Experts can even draw patterns with the tap in the crema.
The standard fare at a café is usually a sweet biscuit, pastry or cake of some kind. A nice sweet always tends to balance out the bitterness of a good coffee. But what if the coffee was the balance. Food pairing relies on complementary flavours and textures, for example umami flavours, like that from mushrooms, pairs well with a salty dish. While bitterness can be used to balance sweet, it also pairs well with rich fatty foods. Cheeses or oily fish go well with a shot of espresso. Chefs are even incorporating coffee into savoury recipes.
Embracing sustainability, cascara is a tea made from the cherry-like fruit of the coffee rather than the bean. Once only consumed in countries that were coffee producers, cascara has found popularity more recently globally. The coffee fruit is dried after the bean is removed, the dried fruit is then steeped in boiling water. The result is a deep red tea that has a slightly bitter fruity flavour. The best part is that as well as decreasing the waste of coffee production, it still contains caffeine to give you a bit of a boost.
While not specifically a coffee trend, it is certainly making a splash on the café scene. A turmeric latte is just what it sounds like: instead of coffee the flavour base for this is turmeric with frothed milk (or a vegan alternative, as is popular with this beverage) with perhaps cinnamon, ginger and a little honey. They have been the mainstay of health food cafes for years but have taken of recently as the world discovers the health benefits of turmeric. People trying to cut down on caffeine but still wanting the ritual of a coffee have started making the shift to.
Are these trends going to become the norm for cafes in the future? Only time will tell. It will be interesting to see what baristas come up with to entice us next.