The coffee industry gets a lot of attention, there’s no doubt about that. In fact, coffee is the second most popular drink in the U.S. behind water, according to claims from the National Coffee Association.
Despite the growth of coffee consumption, tea is holding its own. And in the world of tea, there is no shortage of innovation, including a new, wildly popular product that combines both of these trends -- coffee leaf tea.
It has been called the “hottest new beverage” by TreeHugger.com and won Best New Product at the 2015 World Tea Awards and was also nominated for the 2015 Best Tea Industry Innovator award. The product is coffee leaf tea by Vancouver-based startup Wize Monkey and it is making waves in the tea industry.
Wize Monkey’s coffee leaf tea was thought up when company execs Max Rivest and Arnaud Petitvallet witnessed the difficulties Latin American coffee farmers face due to the crop’s short harvest season, they wrote on their Website. Coffee leaves, they found, could be harvested year-round and generate sustainable income for the farmers…while also creating a tea without the bitterness that accompanies other types of teas, Vancouver Bits and Bites wrote.
The company’s coffee leaves are grown in the hills of Nicaragua by a farmer named Armando, which one of the company’s teas is named for. After the leaves are harvested and washed, they are dried for one to three days then packaged and shipped to the company’s Canadian headquarters.
But this idea of using coffee leaves to make tea isn’t new. In fact, people have been consuming coffee leaf tea for more than 200 years...it is just becoming more popular. One of those reasons may be due to its health benefits.
According to Wize Monkey, coffee leaf tea has more antioxidants than green tea and about the same amount of caffeine as a decaf coffee (12 mg). Researchers found that coffee leaf tea contains high levels of compounds that can lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease, The Telegraph reports. In fact, the same researchers believe that the newly popular coffee leaf tea drink may be able to rival coffee and traditional teas due to its health benefits, the source said.
But its popularity isn’t solely based on its health benefits, it’s also based on its flavor, which Oolong Owl described as, “…very smooth, almost creamy, malty and earthy start, reminding me of a late resteep of a black tea.”
Know the trends
Admittedly, I am a coffee lover more so than a tea fan, but there is a time and place for both. What I find interesting are the constant trends in both industries. In the OCS industry, cold-brew coffee is “hot” right now (25 percent of operators reported offering the beverage, as you’ll soon read in the 2015 State of the Coffee Industry report), but it began with a small number of consumers drinking the beverage, and took months to grow. That being said, who knows if coffee leaf tea is the next big thing? It’s important operators constantly remain ‘in the know’ when it comes to industry trends, because those trends start somewhere and are driven by consumers and their changing preferences.