Our beverage experts taste dozens of new and innovative beverages every day, making them a valuable resource for the latest flavor trends. Here is what they had to say about 2019.

A Return to Classic Simplicity

This year’s flavor trends star fresh fruit flavors and dazzling twists on comforting classics. With it comes an exciting resurgence of functional, health-forward beverages, specifically teas and seltzers – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – which have recently seen an uptick across the industry.

Berry

While not a new flavor concept, our beverage experts foresee that mixed berry combinations will continue to be a driver in the beverage landscape – specifically red, wild, dark, and tropical berry blends, which are most popular in this category. Because they can provide an indulgent profile (think strawberry shortcake) as well as wellness benefits (like blueberry paired with other antioxidants), berry flavors are common identifiers in a variety of beverage segments. Berry flavors also work well as masking agents for functional beverages, such as protein drinks.

Herbal Bitters

Building off the botanical trend from last year, our beverage experts anticipate a more specific focus on herbal bitters. Already popular in alcohol offers such as Aperol, Amaro, and Campari, herbal bitters are continuing to make their way to the top of trending liqueur profiles. In addition to being utilized more widely in alcoholic beverage creations, herbal bitters are predicted to bleed over into the non-alcoholic sector as well, thanks to an expanding authentic tonic category and increasing demand for more sophisticated, “better for you” ingredients.

Citrus

Last year, grapefruit was king. Now broadening the scope, the zesty, juicy aromas of citrus flavors overall are set to make it into this year’s beverage offerings: whether as a single fruit (with lemon and lime at the top) or as a toner in different flavor combinations (orange-mango, lemon-ginger), citrus provides some of the most vibrant flavors in the industry. Recalling the past, exotic citrus flavors like calamansi, Buddha’s hand, and nartjie are returning once more to the limelight in 2019 – pun intended.

Watermelon

This flavor was low on the totem pole at the beginning of 2018, but it seems to have made an impressive resurgence. Watermelon’s refreshing, sweet profile is complementary to almost any beverage. Its perceived sweetness alone has the power to influence the assumed sweetness of a product. Because it can deliver sweetness without the presence of sugar, it makes for a great standalone flavor in unsweetened products – a category which also happens to be dominating the trends this year, just in time for spring and summer.

Cucumber

Nothing evokes a day at the spa quite like the crisp aroma of cucumber. In the past, this tricky profile has been popular in concept, but challenging in execution. The most successful applications of this refreshing flavor highlight its freshness and delightful green notes, while deftly avoiding its less appetizing vegetal, overripe characteristics. Done well, cucumber paired with mint or citrus is poised to continue to be popular in 2019.

Mule Variations

Alcohol (not just vodka anymore) and ginger beer have been popular as a cocktail combination, especially in RTD beverages. This popular drink encompasses many of the top flavor trends that we have seen previously, including citrus (lime), ginger, and alcohol flavors, setting it up for a successful 2019. Its refreshing, zesty, and spicy profile is on the rise and likely will continue to dominate in the alcoholic beverage segment.

Herbal Teas / Tisanes

As the prevalence of unsweetened beverages continues to expand, more beverage developers are experimenting with different herbal combinations in their teas. The variety of combinations possible in these “tisanes” include a range of earthy, floral, spicy, bitter, sweet, and sour notes. The lack of sugar combined with the herbal ingredients’ purported health benefits give people a drink in which they can guiltlessly indulge.

Other Noteworthy Flavor Predictions…

  • While classical flavors are seeing a resurgence, flavored seltzers will continue to grow and branch out with newer and trendier flavors.
  • Less focus on energy, more focus on wellness.
  • Everything in a can!

See how last year’s flavor trends compare.

Check out 2020’s flavor trends.

Written on December 11, 2018.