Specialty Cafes: Culinary Trend Mapping Report

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Published Feb 1, 2007 | 77 Pages | Pub ID: LA1282396

Specialty cafés reflect current trends. For example, smoothies reflect health and wellness trends; noodle joints point to the rise of Asian cuisine. Not all specialty cafés will be a success like Starbucks, but by examining emerging café trends found in college towns and urban centers, we can glean food and beverage trends coming down the pipeline. Just as smoothies made the transition from juice bar drink to packaged good product, others foods could inspire new opportunities for manufacturers and restaurant operators alike. Think about thick, rich chocolate drinks, like those found in chocolate cafés, or crispy, cinnamon-dusted churros, now popping up in specialty shops, not just taco chain menus.

Specialty Cafes, the February issue of the Culinary Trend Mapping Report, examines the ingredients, cooking styles and ethnic influences that the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) has identified as about to hit, or have established themselves, in the U.S. We delve into the trends relating to churro shops, coffee roasteries, tea lounges, dessert cafes, cereal bars, chocolate cafes, bubble tea shops, noodle houses, smoothie and juice bars, and critically assess how food marketers can take advantage of these hot trends.

Key Strategies

  • Where these specialty cafes are appearing along the trend map
  • What trends emanating from these cafes may suggest a food or drink that will grow into the next big thing.
  • Applications for the packaged foods/retail side of the business
  • New product and menu-item introductions inspired by emerging and existing café concepts
  • CCD translation tips - how to turn these trends into actionable menu, product and retail developments
  • Future impact of specialty cafe trends on the industry

Market Assessment: Consumers, Professionals, Business
Strategic Implications: What are, in CCD’s words, the “strategic levers” food marketers, foodservice operators and food retailers should pull to identify opportunities for new product development based on specialty cafes? Kimberly Egan, CCD’s managing partner, invites us to consider the many lessons to be learned from specialty cafés, whether they are serving unique versions of everyday items, like coffee or tea, or offering a locale for enjoying a post-movie dessert or decadent chocolate fondue. Food manufacturers and restaurant operators can discover future food and beverage trends and gain insight into growing niche markets. The important thing is not to be dismissive of specialty café trends that may seem too tiny or too challenging to incorporate on a larger scale.

Professional Perspective: Before Starbucks jump-started café culture in the United States, and before eating healthy was a societal obsession, Mani Niall was carrying a flag for both trends. His two Mani’s Bakery outlets in Los Angeles were local sensations in the early 1990s, and though he sold the businesses years ago, they still exist, and still bear their founder’s name. In this interview, Niall, a member of the Center for Culinary Development’s Chefs’ Council who is now director of product development for Just Desserts, the Bay Area dessert café operator and wholesaler, recalls his beginnings in the café business, and reflects on the emergence of specialty cafés coast-to-coast.

Industry Insights: Joan Lang is another industry veteran who has made her reputation working for and writing about food for a diverse library of publications, ranging from the Zagat Guide to Restaurant Business to Foodservice Director. She’s also been a managing editor for the Culinary Institute of America and has been a consultant to many of the top food marketing companies in the country.

Joan reminds us that there’s a reason they’re called specialty cafés, of course. By definition, most of these casual, limited-menu, and inevitably high-concept venues target a specialized niche and a well-defined demographic. The thing to remember about them, however, is the way they raise consumer consciousness about certain products.

With extensive profiles of each ingredient/food emerging within the five stages of the trend map, this wellness issue of the Culinary Trend Mapping Report provides you with the most up-to-date, insider’s look at what’s hot and what’s not in the world of food. Top food marketers rely on trend mapping to keep them on the pulse of what’s happening and what’s about to happen as far as consumer tastes are concerned.

• • • The Culinary Trend Mapping Report is an indispensable tool for those whose job it is to stay abreast of what's hot - or what will be - in the food world!

Using the Center for Culinary Development’s (CCD) signature Trend Mapping technique, a validated method identifying which culinary trends are “gaining traction” and which are simply flashes in the pan, each report concentrates on a theme, or trend, that is affecting the food industry, and then looks at the emerging and established ingredients, cooking styles and products along the Trend Map that are driving this theme.

Each report is a 75+ page journal packed with trends, data, strategies and insights on the food industry that simply aren't available anywhere else.

Each Issue of the Culinary Trends Mapping Report

  • Identifies the maturity level of foods and ingredients according to CCD’s unique, proprietary 5-stage trend mapping process.
  • Concentrates on a theme that is affecting the food industry, and then looks at the emerging and established trends along the Trend Map that affect—or are affected by—this theme.
  • Delves into these trends and what they mean for you and the manufacturing, retailing, and foodservice industries.
  • Gives strategic insight into how consumers are thinking of and reacting to new foods and ingredients.
  • Provides business know-how regarding opportunities, challenges, and ways to implement current trends into foodservice, retail, and packaged goods operations.
  • Presents a feature interview with a member chef from CCD’s exclusive 80+ member Chefs’ Council® that offers expert analysis and his or her perspective on a specific trend.

Additional features include:

  • Menu Tracking: Menu mentions of our featured Trend Map items. Within the trend profiles, we will offer a summary of how often the trend has appeared on menus in restaurants ranging from 75 white tablecloth restaurants to the top 200 chains.
  • Trend Dishes: Actual descriptions of all dishes for top restaurant chains for each of the trends appear in the report Appendices to provide a comprehensive overview of how the trends are being served.
  • Industry Veterans Speak: Points of view from an industry perspective on what each trend means—whether positive or negative—to the food industry at large, including consumers, professionals and businesses.

Trend Mapping
Trend Mapping is guided by the premise that major food trends pass through five distinct stages on their way to the mainstream:

  • Stage 1: The ingredient, dish and/or cooking technique appears at upscale dining establishments, ethnic and popular independent restaurants.
  • Stage 2: The item is featured in specialty consumer-oriented food magazines, such as Gourmet and Bon Appetit plus retail stores such as Sur La Table that target culinary professionals and serious home cooks.
  • Stage 3: The item begins to appear in mainstream chain restaurants -- Applebee's or Chili's -- as well as retail stores such as Williams-Sonoma that target recreational cooks.
  • Stage 4: Publications such as Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens pick up the buzz.
  • Stage 5: Finally, the trend makes its way to quick service restaurant menus and is either starting to appear or is having increased presence on grocery store shelves.

Published bimonthly, the Culinary Trend Mapping Report is available for purchase as a single issue or a six-issue subscription.

Executive Summary
  • Why Specialty Cafes- Kimberly Egan
  • Executive Summary

Industry Overview

  • Starbucks: The Gold (Coast) Standard for Specialty Cafes?

Trend Profiles

  • Trend Summary
  • Churro Shops
  • Coffee Roasteries
  • Tea Lounges
  • Dessert Cafes
  • Bubble Tea Shops
  • Noodle Houses
  • Smoothie and Juice Bars

Chef Speak: CCD Chef's Council Voices

  • Mani Niall: Chef Trailblazer Reflects on the Specialty Café Trend
  • Talking Toques

Strategic Implications

  • Learning Strategic Lessons from Specialty Cafes
  • Taking a Hint from Specialty Cafes


  • Source List