December 8, 2023


Qualified food specialists

What’s next in RTD coffee?

6 min read
What’s next in RTD coffee?

The RTD coffee category has found a sweet spot with busy consumers by offering a winning trio of energy, convenience and taste. Innovation abounds among entrepreneurs with small fast-growing brands who have spotted the opportunity to be the next big thing in the category. 

But it’s not just about entrepreneurs offering a fun new brand. A strong RTD coffee proposition is going to make increasing sense for any coffee company or FMGC company in the future as the preferences of the younger generation change. Mintel research shows that Gen Z consumers are ‘significantly more likely’ to drink RTD coffee than traditional hot brewed coffee and today only half of Gen Z consumers own a drip coffee brewer (vs 60% of all coffee consumers).

“Gen Z’s preference for cold coffee indicates key growth opportunities for RTD coffee brands and a need for roasted coffee brands to connect with Gen Z consumers or risk future declines,” ​says Caleb Bryant, Associate Director of Food & Drink at Mintel.

So how can RTD coffee brands connect with this new generation of consumers?

Big moves from Costa in the RTD space

Many large FMGC companies have been quick to recognize RTD coffee growth. PepsiCo has long enjoyed a partnership with Starbucks to distribute the coffee giant’s RTD coffee in the US. More recently, Nestle and Starbucks teamed up to bring RTD coffee to Southeast Asia, Oceania and Latin America.


But one of the biggest splashes in the category comes from Coca-Cola, which – when it acquired coffee brand Costa – highlighted ‘great opportunities’ for Costa RTD coffee. “The Costa brand has potential for expansion into ready-to-drink coffee across many markets globally,”​ said James Quincey, CEO, as the company outlined its rational for the acquisition back in 2018.

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