The Top Trends in Specialty Coffee at This Year's Coffee Expo

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The Top Trends in Specialty Coffee at This Year's Coffee Expo

A comprehensive look at the latest innovations and trends in specialty coffee as seen at this year's Coffee Expo, the premiere coffee industry trade show.
The Top Trends in Specialty Coffee at This Year's Coffee Expo

 The specialty coffee industry is constantly evolving. Each year the top roasters, baristas, coffee shop owners, and other coffee professionals gather at the Coffee Expo to showcase the latest and greatest products, techniques, and innovations in specialty coffee.

At this year's Coffee Expo, held March 1-3, several significant trends stood out that are shaping the future of specialty coffee. From new processing methods to high-tech brewing equipment, and sustainability efforts to unique ingredient pairings, these are the top specialty coffee trends seen at the 2023 Coffee Expo.

Table of Contents

Trend 1: New Processing Methods

1. One big theme was innovative processing methods for green coffee beans, which alter the beans' flavor profile. Methods discussed included:

  • -Anaerobic processing: Fermenting beans in sealed tanks to produce fruity, wine-like flavors.
  • -Carbonic maceration: Fermenting whole, unbroken beans in a carbon dioxide environment.
  • -Yeast fermentation: Adding yeast during drying to impart a tangy, fruity taste.

2. These natural processing methods allow unique fruit and cocoa tones to develop in the beans. Roasters are excited to experiment with these new unconventional origins and flavors.

Trend 2: Sustainability Focus

3. Sustainability was another major focus. Concerns included:

  • - Carbon footprint reduction through streamlining supply chains.
  • - Ethical labor practices and fair prices for producers.
  • - Eco-friendly packaging and operations.

4. Many vendors highlighted efforts to improve sustainability from crop to cup through initiatives like direct trade, renewable energy in roasting/brewing, compostable packaging, and waste reduction.

Trend 3: Custom Roasting Profiles

5. On the equipment side, a noticeable trend was custom roast profiles. Software developments allow roasters to:

  • - Create specific roast profiles for each origin or batch.
  • - Adjust temperature, drum speed, and time dynamically during roasting.
  • - Repeat exact profiles for consistency.

6. This level of control lets roasters fine-tune flavors and achieve unique tastes that set specialty roasters apart.

Trend 4: High-Tech Brewing

7. New high-tech coffee brewers also emerged for precision extraction:

  • - Automated pour-over machines for hands-free drip coffee.
  • - Multi-step programmable cold brew systems.
  • - Smart kettles that heat water to an exact temperature.
8. This new equipment aims to create the perfect cup with ultimate control over the brewing process.

Trend 5: Unique Flavors

9. In terms of unique sensory experiences, notable flavors included:

  • - Barrel-aged coffee beans to impart whiskey, wine, rum, etc. tastes.
  • - Fruit syrups and purees mixed into drinks.
  • - Herbal and floral ingredient pairings like lavender, chamomile, and rose.
10. These outside-the-box flavors cater to adventurous specialty coffee drinkers looking for novel taste combinations.


The 2023 Coffee Expo highlighted several facets driving innovation in specialty coffee today. From new bean processing methods to advanced brewing technology and one-of-a-kind flavors, these top trends show an industry pursuing better coffee quality, sustainability, and distinctive sensory experiences for discerning drinkers. With a focus on environmental impacts and equitable supply chains, the specialty coffee community also aims to create positive change. Exciting developments lie ahead as Coffee Expo continues to showcase new directions in specialty coffee each year.

Frequently Asked Questions

What were some of the biggest trends seen at this year's Coffee Expo?

The top trends included new processing methods like anaerobic and carbonic maceration for unique flavors, an emphasis on sustainability initiatives, custom roast profiles via advanced software, high-tech precision brewing equipment, and unique ingredient pairings like barrel aging, fruit, and herbs.

How can processing methods change coffee bean flavor profiles?

Processing methods like anaerobic fermentation or yeast fermentation allow fruit, cocoa, or other flavors to develop in the beans by influencing the chemical reactions during drying. This results in distinctive fruity, tangy, or complex flavors.

What are some of the ways roasters and cafes are improving sustainability?

Methods include direct trade relationships for fair prices and labor practices, streamlining supply chains to reduce carbon footprints, renewable energy usage in operations, compostable packaging, and eliminating waste through recycling and other initiatives.

How does custom roast profile software work?

The software allows roasters to create specific roast profiles by customizing parameters like temperature, drum speed, and time throughout the roasting process. This level of control results in precision roasting tailored to each coffee's particular flavors.

What high-tech coffee brewing equipment is now available?

New equipment includes programmable automated pour-over devices for drip coffee, multi-step cold brew systems, and smart kettles that heat water to an exact preset temperature optimal for coffee extraction.

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