What will be Hot in Coffee in 2018
Words Erin Meister
One of the best things about coffee is that it helps spark energy and creativity. That fantastic buzz means that there’s always innovations happening in coffee; why not apply all that energy toward making mornings and breaks more delicious, more ingenious, and more fun? Here are some of what will be the next big things in coffee in 2018, and why they will make your coffee-brewing and coffee-drinking even better.
In coffee-industry speak, “process” is the term used to describe the way the coffee beans are removed from their cherry-like fruit, which can be done any number of traditional or less-traditional ways. One of the wildest we’ve heard so far is from a producer in Colombia named Elkin Guzman, whose process is called “Natural-Hydro-Honey Style.” He picks a selection of his coffee at peak ripeness and allows the cherry to completely dry like a raisin on the bean before rehydrating the fruit in water, removing the skin layer, and then laying the beans out to dry again. This process allows the fruit to retain its sugar, so “Honey style,” gets its name from the sticky-sweet coating still clinging to the beans. This is in contrast to the more common processing style found in Colombia called “Washed,” in which the fruit is removed from the bean within 12–24 hours of harvest. There is less contact between the fruit and bean, and the resulting coffee tends to be more coffee-flavored and less fruit-flavored.
While experimental processed beans can be hard to find, they’re worth the splurge when you do, because their flavors tend to be off-the-wall and interesting in a mind-opening way. Look for the words “Honey,” “Special Prep,” or “Experimental” the next time you’re in your favorite fancy coffee shop.
The world’s most expensive and exclusive coffee variety is called Geisha (alternatively, Gesha), —an old strain first recorded in the 1930s in Ethiopia, with roots that go back much longer. Unlike the more “coffee flavored” washed coffee that comes out of most of Central America, this type of coffee, now planted throughout Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Honduras, tastes reminiscent of its African roots: floral, fragrant, and delicate. This coffee is prized by connoisseurs, and turning heads all over—it’s winning competitions like the Cup of Excellence, and showing up on menus as limited-run offerings as special as a grand cru wine. People describe the heady aroma and flavors of jasmine, peach, cane sugar, white tea, and other rarefied notes that seemingly flip our idea of “coffee flavored” on its ear.
There’s a seemingly endless variety of non-dairy options—even beyond the soy and almond standards—with more and better on the horizon. While rice and hemp milk are still available, the hip modern alternatives are cashew, oat, flaxseed, coconut, and macadamia. To the cheers of baristas worldwide, most of the major dairy-alternative manufacturers have ensured their products have perfect foam-ability. While the flavor in non-dairy beverages is different than cow’s milk, most are so lovely, sweet, nutty, or complex— it’s a different, but delightful experience.
Try Oatly brand oat milk, or Milkademia for particularly luxurious and decadent-tasting lattes and cappuccinos, and don’t be afraid to experiment with cold or hot versions. A dash of oat milk, some honey or brown sugar, and a shot of cold-brew concentrate can be shaken or whisked vigorously at any temp to make something simple but special.
The Future Is Brewing
One of the best things about these three trends is the fact that they aren’t for “convenience” like most innovations or adaptations. Instead, they represent years of research, ingenuity, exploration, and, most of all, passion for coffee and for things that taste good. Having increased access to experimental processes and exotic-tasting varieties turns a routine morning ritual into something more exciting and engaging, and the technological advances being made to some of coffee’s best friends (like non-dairy milk) makes it possible to explore even more combinations, flavors, and fun techniques. In other words, just consider the caffeinated mantra of this year to be, “You Brew You,” and let us at OXO help find your brand new groove.