Consumers love cold beverages- especially refreshers

Temps are rising. Shorts and tanks are being deployed. Outdoor dining sections are opening up. There is a clear cause-effect relationship here. When the temps start rising, we start showing our limbs and dining outdoors. In Chicago, it’s a great awakening, and there is no better time to be a resident of this fair city that AF calls its home.

But the 10-day forecast has very little to do with a phenomenon that has been emerging in the beverage space for the past few years. Cold beverages are the drink of choice for many Americans.

The rise of the cold beverage

One need only to look at beverage giant Starbucks for proof. In August of 2022, the world’s largest coffee chain reported that 75% of its drink sales are from cold beverages. It’s a wonder they even brew hot coffee anymore at all, so strong is the performance of their cold beverages.

That growth is driven by the most influential demographic spending money right now– Gen Z. Whether you call them zoomers, Gen Z, or the babysitter who focuses more on TikTok than on your toddler, these consumers are undeniably cold-beverage obsessed. They order their brew cold, and they flock to a category that didn’t exist until a few years ago: The refresher.

What makes a drink a refresher?

The AF Food Scientists tell us there really is no culinary standard for refreshers. In general, the ones offered at the most popular coffee chains are bold in color. Some chains layer different color juices in the cup before serving, creating a satisfying ombre effect.

You’re not likely to find something called a “strawberry refresher.” That’s because, for consumers to accept it as a refresher, it’s got to have multiple flavors. The most successful refresher flavor combos feature one flavor that is familiar (e.g. strawberry) and one that is a little less so (e.g. hibiscus).

And while, in general, Americans say they want less sugar, the actual data shows that younger Americans are less likely to demonize any individual ingredients, including real sugar, the way older generations have. That means refreshers are usually (but not always) sweetened with real sugar.

Beyond that, the refresher category is open to interpretation. And consumers are drinking up every variation that the most innovative beverage brands have created.

Why we love refreshers

Refreshers have become so popular for a lot of reasons. One is that, well, they’re refreshing, which of course is where the name comes from. That also makes it convenient. When you get an iced coffee or a refresher, there’s no need to wait for it to be safe to drink, nor do you need to add cream or sugar. It is beverage instant gratification.

Unique, on-trend flavor profiles make refreshers particularly appealing to Gen Z and Millennial consumers, which drives their sharp growth. These are the foodie generations after all; juice, coffee flavored coffee and (gasp!) soda will not satisfy the 42-and-under among us. They want flavors that push their taste bud boundaries.

These same consumers also want their friends to know that they’ve tasted something new by way of a social media post, and refreshers get the job done with their FOMO-inducing vibez. The brighter the color the better; if a consumer chooses one solely because it matches their manicure, who are we to judge?

That brings us to All Friends Beverage. It checks all the boxes we’ve laid out for refreshers. Let’s review:

  • Bold in color
  • Multiple flavors
  • One familiar flavor, one unique boundary-pushing flavor
  • Sweetened with real sugar

All Friends beverage checks all those boxes and then some. That’s because it’s got all that plus the benefit of functional ingredients like B Vitamins, antioxidants and electrolytes. Even better, the ingredients are all natural– including real sugar, of which, incidentally, we use less than your typical fountain beverage.

If you’re ready to jump on the refresher bandwagon, why not consider making room for All Friends in your beverage program? We’ll help you get our colorful functional beverages on your menu faster than an ice cube melts on your outdoor dining patio.

All Friends Blueberry Chai Glass
All Friends Mango Chili Glass
All Friends Strawberry Hibiscus Glass
All Friends Pineapple Ginger Glass