KANSAS CITY — Cold-brew coffee is one of the fastest growing beverage categories in food service, according to a September 2017 Mintel study. In 2017, sales of cold-brew coffee were up 80% over the previous year.

“The coffee shop market is benefiting from shifting consumer interest in more premium, albeit pricier, coffee drinks such as specialty coffees, cold-brew coffee and third wave coffee,” said Caleb Bryant, senior food service analyst at Mintel. “However, the number of new coffee shops hitting the U.S. market is slowing, indicating sales growth is coming from increased consumer expenditure on these more expensive beverages rather than unit growth and expansion. We expect to see coffee shop sales continue on an upward trajectory over the next five years.”

Cold-brew coffee is continuing its climb in the food service industry, now joining the McDonald’s menu as well as appearing at 7-Eleven, Juice It Up! and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

McDonald’s new McCafe Cold Brew Frozen Drinks feature a cold brew extract blended with ice, either plain as the Cold Brew Frozen Coffee or topped with whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle in the Cold Brew Frappe. Cold brew represents only 2% of total coffee distribution within the Informal Eating Out portion of the restaurant industry, McDonald’s said, citing a March 2018 NPD Group study. However, servings grew 39% from the first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, “making it a good opportunity for McDonald’s,” the company said.

“As part of our continued commitment to give consumers more tastes and choices from McCafe, this summer we’re offering a refreshingly cold twist on cold brew and the perfect treat to cool down and recharge — two new craveable and delicious seasonal McCafe Cold Brew Frozen Drinks.”

McDonald's cold-brew coffee infographic

Cold brew also is coming to 7-Eleven. The company’s new Cold-Brew Iced Coffee is slow steeped for 12 to 24 hours and may be customized with creamers, sweeteners, toppings and syrups.

“Because of the long steeping process and different grind size of the coffee beans, cold brew almost has a craft appeal with a smoother, richer flavor,” said Jacob Barnes, senior category manager for cold beverages for 7-Eleven. “For millennials and Gen Z-ers, it’s a modern-day soda or milkshake.”

At Juice It Up!, cold brew played a key role in the company’s recent menu refresh. As part of the brand update, Juice It Up! launched several new menu additions, including two cold brew-infused offerings. The PB Cold-Brew Mocha Smoothie features a blend of soy milk, nonfat yogurt, cold-brew coffee, chocolate, peanut butter, protein powder and banana. The Cold Brew Acai Bowl features nonfat yogurt, organic acai, cold-brew coffee, soy milk, banana, cinnamon and guarana.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is debuting the new Vietnamese Cold-Brew Coffee, featuring cold-brew coffee made from a blend of Bali Blue Moon and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe coffees with chicory combined with sweetened condensed milk.

 View a slideshow of new menu items.