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Hot Flavor Trends, from Healthful to Decadent

By Jennifer Magid

From tea to fruit to baked goods? Smoothies are on the scene for good - and innovative options abound.

Did you know that you can drink a donut? Or that you can suck down your daily intake of vitamins? It’s all possible with the right smoothie mix. By serving a range of smoothies in your store, you give yourself options for appealing to customers with all types of dietary desires. Since smoothies can signify dessert time or meal replacement, it is more important than ever to be aware of the latest trends in smoothie tastes and what’s new to the market. (We’ll get to that “drinking a donut” thing in just a minute…)

Naturally Delicious
Store-bought smoothies first became popular in America as an afternoon pick me up in the heat of summer, but the concept is quickly becoming an all around healthy meal replacement. This trend definitely has been present in places like California for quite some time, but is now increasingly popular in markets that in the past have been devoted to grabbing a coffee and bagel. For example, smack in the middle of New York City, the first Jamba Juice has opened in a new Whole Foods store and has been inordinately successful, with lines with wait times of over 20 minutes on a warm day.

Dr. Smoothie is one smoothie company that is devoted to all things healthful. In fact, the company’s mission statement is, “To provide great tasting, high quality smoothie products that are good for your health, mind and body. To be the forerunner in healthy nutritious smoothies.”

In keeping with the company’s philosophy on nutrition, Dr. Smoothie’s newest flavors feature healthful yet delicious combinations. New to the market is Northwest Berry, featuring the flavor of fresh Northwest fruit. And last year, Dr. Smoothie released the smoothie flavor Forbidden Fruit. This mix is a combination of Hawaiian Pink Guava, Indian White Guava and Passion Fruit from Ecuador. This new flavor is not only a new way for consumers to get their vitamin C intake, it also plays right into the trend in Latin inspired drinks that is taking over all aspects of the beverage industry.

Also becoming increasingly popular is combining the benefits of tea into a smoothie that is both nutritious and delicious. A combination being seen on the market is the green tea smoothie -- a great way for the consumer to get the benefits of green tea, even if they don’t like the taste of it when prepared the traditional way. Celestial Seasonings has devised a recipe for green tea smoothies using fruit, honey and their authentic green tea bags. Also in on this trend is Big Train, which makes a green tea blended ice drink. This treat tastes like ice cream yet still has health benefits.

“We have seen a loyal group of customers really embrace this frozen drink. With all of the antioxidants and benefits green tea has to offer, it’s a great way to give customers exactly what they are asking for. Our shop owners love it too because it is so simple and easy to prepare. On top of being a draw for antioxidant seeking consumers, it has an excellent and refreshing flavor that tastes just like green tea ice cream,” said Stacy Visconti, marketing manager for Big Train.

The company also makes a product called Fruit Tea Blast. This mix contains a blend of green and black teas and vitamin C. It comes in a variety of fruit flavors: Guava Madness, Wild Berry Boost, Strawberry Sensation, Peach Pizazz, Passion Orange Guava and Pineapple Coconut. According to Big Train, an entire pound of fruit is added to each container, making the health benefits, between the fruit and tea, twofold.

Also on the tea smoothie front, Java Frost makes a chai smoothie mix -- an ideal option, perhaps, when a consumer doesn’t know if they want to go for health or dessert. And Mont Blanc has come up with unique Chocolate Chai and White Chocolate Chai smoothie mixes, again incorporating tea into a smoothie drink in a delicious, decadent way. Clearly, while coffee smoothies are not a new concept, tea is now getting in on the game in its own right. As Visconti says, “Frozen coffee drinks are in abundance, but our tea loving customers had few choices and fairly simple demands. Give us a great tasting, cool, and refreshing tea smoothie to enjoy, and we’ll return again and again to buy it!”

Divine Desserts
Been wondering about that afore mentioned “drinkable donut”? Well, it’s true -- it exists. Krispy Kreme now makes a smoothie concoction that tastes just like a drinkable version of its classically sinful donut. Unfortunately, just because it’s drinkable, it doesn’t make it any healthier -- the smoothie has 24 grams fat! And for those who prescribe to low carb diets, the drink has reportedly 117 grams of carbs -- a whole week’s allowance for someone on Atkins. This is one smoothie that isn’t replacing nutritional value in a meal anytime soon -- but it sure seems delicious! (And if donut flavor doesn’t sound good to you, consumers can also order Raspberry, Latte or Double Chocolate smoothies.)

Also in the genre of smoothies replacing baked goodies, Cappuccine has come up with a cinnamon roll-flavored mix. A colleague who was able to taste test it herself said she “LOVED” it. (With all these delicious options, will people ever want to chew food again?)

Says Michael Rubin, c.e.o. of Cappuccine, “Last year, while walking through an airport, enjoying the familiar and enticing aroma of baking cinnamon buns, I thought that has got to be the single most compelling aroma there is.” From that moment, Cappuccine has been working on the creation of their brand new Hot and Frozen “Cinnamon Bun.” The mix gives consumers the option of having a choice besides gourmet hot chocolate as a comfort beverage option, or as a delicious dessert smoothie.

The Best of Both Worlds
Meanwhile, Caffe D’Amore’s new product is bridging the gap between healthy and dessert. Their new Sugar… Less Frappe Freeze has a 75% reduction in sugar carbs from their original product, but claims to have the exact same taste. The product is made with Splenda to reduce carbs and works when mixed with either ice or water. Available flavors are Mocha, Latte and Coffee-free Vanilla and Chocolate.

Another company offering a healthy yet dessert oriented option is Granelli Ice, which has fruit flavored choices such as Tropical Passion and Matty’s Marion Blackberry, all of which are made from real fruit puree. They also, however, make mixes that have zero transfats. Vanilla Snow is meant to be used anywhere a sweet vanilla taste is needed, but without all the fat of a regular dessert.

As smoothies continue to function as both desserts and meal replacements, the options available to consumers will have to grow in order to keep them coming back to the store for more, especially when they have the option of being able to blend their own concoction at home. Clearly, flavor choices are becoming more and more sophisticated with each passing year, showing that consumers truly want something to suck down that is both healthful and delicious - yet they’re willing to indulge every once in awhile.

Tea & Coffee - March/April, 2005
Theta Ridge Coffee


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