Sun’s out, tongues out: these are the season’s biggest beverage trends

Here’s what you can expect to see on drink menus over the next few months.

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Bubble tea in plastic cups with straws
Bubble tea is, ahem, popping off right now
Photo: Sean Gallup (Getty Images)

God, humans are such thirsty creatures, aren’t we? These days, every other press release announces a new hard seltzerplease, God, no more—or a turbo-charged “wellness drink.” But for a real look at what consumers are tossing down their dry, dry gullets, we have to take a look at a diverse array of beverage trends. Lucky for us, Nation’s Restaurant News recently rounded these up, offering a bit of foresight into the hip-and-happening drink scene. The trends come from a few different corners of the world including Taiwan, Mexico, and Guatemala. Per NRN, they include:

  • Boba: In recent years, this Taiwanese import has escaped the confines of bubble tea cafes, bubbling over into chains like Del Taco (the Mexican chain launched a “Sprite Poppers” boba promotion in 2020), Caribou Coffee (Caribou debuted three green tea coolers with coconut-coffee jelly bubbles this year), Sonic Drive-In (briefly home to a limited-release Bursting Bubbles slush), and, of course, Dunkin’, which rolled out its own “Popping Bubbles” drinks in late June.
  • Matcha: Japanese matcha is a centuries-old tradition, but its entry to the U.S. beverage scene is still semi-recent. These days, the vibrant green powder is a popular add-in for drinks like Caribou Coffee’s Matcha Tea Cooler, Dunkin’s blueberry matcha latte, and the mint matcha iced beverage offered at Peet’s Coffee’s during St. Patrick’s Day this year. (Matcha powder is also a great addition to chocolate chip cookies. Who knew?)
  • Horchata: You can find rice-based horchata, hailing from Mexico and Guatemala, showcased in coffee drinks like Starbucks’ Almondmilk Horchata Frappuccino, Jamba Juice’s Lotta Horchata concoction, and Del Taco’s current Oreo cookie horchata shake.
  • Edible drink collabs: What’s next for U.S. beverage trends? NRN predicts that consumers will see more and more beverage-and-food mashups in the coming months—like Dunkin’s matcha-glazed doughnut from earlier this year, for example.