#Trendspotting: Chicago

 In Blog, Trendspotting

Your source for the most up-to-date information on emerging beverage trends.

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We tasted our way through Chicago on our annual trend walk. Here are some of the most innovative and on-trend menu items we found on our journey.

Blossoming Botanicals | Inspiration from Around the World | Health Focused | Culinary Inspired

Blossoming Botanicals

According to Innova Market Insights, the number of global food and beverage products with botanical flavors increased 8% annually from 2014 to 2018. Flowers, herbs and spices were widespread on menus throughout the city.

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Oromo Café in Lincoln Square offers health-forward beverages created with homemade plant-based milks and superfoods. The pistachio + rose latte (rose syrup, espresso, pistachio milk) was inspired by the cafe’s signature Turkish Delight.

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Butterfly pea flower tea was offered at FairgroundsMachineRewired, and First Sip. The exotic tea is very intriguing to consumers because it changes colors from blue to purple when acidity is introduced and is high in antioxidants.

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Uptown café, First Sip, offers many botanical and globally inspired beverages. The Orange Blossom Latté (orange blossom syrup, orange cookie butter, espresso) tasted like an orange creamsicle infused with coffee and zest.

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Rewired Café in Edgewater takes flavor experimentation to another level. The Baezilla (basil, white chocolate, cinnamon, espresso) was a sweet and savory treat enhanced by a slight herbal flavor from the basil.

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Machine in Wicker Park aims to create a unique experience for customers through flavor and presentation. The Ice Sage (floral and botanical fortified wines, soda water, honeyed blackberry, a sage-infused ice cube) tasted like mulled wine with familiar holiday spices and a botanical bite that kicked in as the ice melted.

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Inspiration from Around the World

We took a culinary trip around the world without leaving the city. Sweet and
savory flavors from nearly every continent were represented, though flavors
popular in Latin American and Asian cuisines were especially prevalent.

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One of the most creative beverages of the day was the Mexican corn-inspired eloté latté (corn lime syrup, chili powder, cayenne, and Parmesan cheese topping) from Rewired Café. The beverage tasted like eloté in the first sip and remained creamy and spicy throughout.

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One of the beverages at Oromo Café heavily inspired by Ayurveda (or traditional Indian medicine) was the Golden Mylk Latté (almond milk, honey, turmeric, ginger, ashwagandha, black pepper, espresso). The sweet and spicy latté was loaded with mood-boosting adaptogens.

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The Enlightened One cocktail (rum sake, tamarind, lime, kiwi, popping boba) from Machine is an Asian-inspired tiki drink. The tart tamarind, lime and kiwi juices overpowered the alcohol taste. The popping boba made drinking the beverage an enjoyable multi-sensory experience.

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Matcha was available at every location we visited in menu items such as lattés, sparkling teas, and cocktails. The Pistachio + Matcha smoothie (pistachio milk, matcha, frozen bana, hemp hearts, moringa leaf, spirulina, maple syrup) at Oromo Café is bursting with benefits from antioxidant-rich matcha and superfoods.

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Ube (purple yam) is a slightly sweet and nutty ingredient that is hugely popular in Filipino cuisine. The Ube Latté (milk, ube, pandan, coconut syrup, espresso) from First Sip tasted cookie-like with hints of vanilla and hazelnut from the combination of ube and pandan.

Health Focused

Health and wellness are a common thread driving menu and retail
innovation. Functional ingredients and better-for-you indulgences were
offered at every location we visited.

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Butter coffee has become a trend thanks to the Bulletproof and keto diets. Fairgrounds Alternative Energy (Colectivo black and tan coffee, grass-fed butter, coconut oil) was very rich, creamy and filling from the butter and coconut oil.

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The Eye Don’t Carrot All cocktail (carrot, gin, lemon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, red pepper, cilantro, orange, watermelon shard) at Machine was jam-packed with better-for-you ingredients. It tasted more like a beverage you would expect from a health-forward juice bar than a cocktail.

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Foxtrot is a corner store (or bodega for our friends in the NE), cafe, bar, and grocery delivery service all-in-one that has several locations in Chicago. They offered a variety of functional RTDs like Superhue, which is enhanced with antioxidant-rich blue majik and calming CBD. The blue beverage tasted like a lightly sweetened citrus and mint soda.

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Vybes premium CBD juices were available at Foxtrot. Each bottle contains 25mg of hemp-derived CBD and comes in flavors like Burning Madarin and Honey Crisp Apple Basil. The Burning Madarin had a strong orange flavor followed by a punch of cayenne.

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Dirty Lemon functional beverages were also offered at Foxtrot. We tried the charcoal-enhanced lemonade which is suggested to improve digestion, stimulate liver function, and gently cleanse your system of impurities. The lemonade was slightly sweet and black from the charcoal.

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Culinary Inspired

Culinary inspired beverages are on the upswing. These beverages
incorporate culinary preparation methods like roasting, toasting, or 

brûléeing and/or integrating sophisticated flavor profiles you might expect
in a meal concocted by a chef. 

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Vinegar based beverages are an emerging trend, so expect to see balsamic in more than glazes and salad dressing. Fairgrounds offered a rooibos tea flavored with a balsamic vinegar syrup that was sweet and slightly acidic.

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Oromo Café’s Hazelnut Horchata Latté (rice milk, toasted hazelenut milk, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, maple syrup, and espresso) was a unique take on the traditional Mexican beverage. The toasted notes from the hazelnut milk shined through while the other flavors were more subtle.

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Rewired took a colorful twist on the classic Arnold Palmer. It was made with butterfly pea flower tea and lemonade made from roasted lemons. The lemonade was smokey and tart with a hint of sweetness

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Another innovative creation from Rewired was the La Roma coffee (honey, ginger, roasted tomato syrup, dark roast). It looks like plain black coffee at first glance, but the sweet honey, spicy ginger, and roasted tomato flavor combination was a pleasant surprise.

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