During lockdown, coffee was one of the few treats to be had, with pop-up cafés appearing in converted shipping containers and tricked- out horse trailers across the country.
But if you’ve fallen into a coffee rut and you’re fed up with your flat white, it might be time to try some of the new caffeinated crazes filtering through to a coffee cart near you.
So what will the cool coffee kids be drinking this summer? Well, cool coffee!
Tom Noonan, head of marketing at Bewley’s, explains that coffee trends often originate in Australia (the flat white is said to have been invented there) and Asia, which is particularly progressive with cold coffees. This chilled trend has already percolated through to mainland Europe, and is now bubbling up in Ireland. Consumers may already be familiar with iced coffees, but cold brew – made by steeping ground coffee in water for 12 to 16 hours so it picks up a much sweeter flavour – is becoming an increasingly popular option.
With a summer of outdoor socialising ahead, why not ease your way into the chilled caffeine trend with a coffee lemonade? Alan Andrews, owner of the Old Barracks Coffee Roastery in Birdhill, Co Tipperary and Guji Boutique Coffee in Cork and Nenagh, describes these drinks as “delicious and super-refreshing” and recommends trying an elderflower coffee lemonade, made by adding elderflower syrup to an espresso or overnight cold brew.
Alternatively, coffee afficionados can inject a little tropical taste into their daily cup of joe with an exotic new offering from Bewley’s - the Pina Colatte, which is an espresso with coconut milk and pineapple flavouring.
“It’s a Bewley’s twist on the traditional latte for this summer,” says Noonan.
For those missing pub culture and the sight of a gently settling pint of Guinness, never fear – the coffee boffins have invented just the beverage for you: the nitro. Nitro coffee, which is a niche but growing part of the Irish market, is made by nitrogenating cold brew, and this, Noonan explains, gives it the ‘Guinness effect’. The nitrogen gas makes the coffee settle like a pint of stout and gives it a creamy, frothy head. Nitro coffee can be bought canned, but some cafés have even installed nitro taps, similar to beer taps, so they can ‘pull’ the drink through the tap like stout.
Noonan notes that one of the biggest shifts in the market since the onset of the pandemic, is that people are consuming much more coffee at home. People needed new hobbies and this translated into a huge increase in the sale of home espresso machines. He says people have been hungry for education, and have explored different origins and flavours. Bewley’s has seen a big uplift in sales of single-origin coffee from places like Kenya and Ethiopia.
“People are looking for new ways to make better coffee at home,” he says.
And with the possibility of home entertaining now on the horizon, coffee connoisseurs may want to show off their newfound brewing skills. Enter: the Zero Martini, Andrews’s alcohol-free spin on the espresso martini. He predicts it will be a really popular drink this summer, and it’s one that people can easily make at home using espresso, cold brew (or a refrigerated americano), some date syrup, sugar syrup, a pinch of fancy salt flakes and a dash of rose water. Follow the demo video posted on The Old Barracks Instagram page to nail this frothy mocktail that’s guaranteed to get your guests buzzing.
Meanwhile, Alin Giriada, chief executive of the Dublin training and consultancy firm Coffee Laboratory, says the domestic coffee market experienced “exponential growth” in the last year. He says bottled and canned coffees are becoming more popular, especially those containing plant-based milk like oat lattes or almond mochas. And his prediction for this summer’s big new trend? The iced coconut matcha.
Matcha, which is a type of green tea that grows in Japanese forests, might prove a good choice for those of us who have comfort-caffeinated our way through the pandemic and need to cut down on the jitter juice.
“It has less caffeine and more importantly it is slow-release caffeine,” says Giriada. “So it doesn’t give you a boost of energy but rather keeps you alert.”
“Also, there is always a demand for healthier options, so we expect to see variations of drinks containing turmeric, ginger or beetroot, ingredients that have proved to work really well with coffee,” Giriada adds.
Andrews too has observed this overall move towards greater health-consciousness, noting that there has been a “massive cultural shift towards a cleaner social life”. This shift, he says, is about having somewhere to go “that’s not your home, not the pub and not work”. He points out that the great advantage of coffee compared to alcohol is that once you’ve had two drinks, you’ve had enough.
So whether or not people decide to give their flat whites the flick in favour of cooler caffeinated choices, it looks like Ireland’s booming coffee culture is here to stay.
The Top 1000 magazine and listings is published on Friday, 11th June, with The Irish Times.