We are half way through winter, and even though we have been blessed with great weather so far, the chilly nights are still set to creep in. In a Q & A with Chrissy Beedle, Executive Manager of Research and Product Development at Slo-Jo, we’ve identified the top flavours for winter:

What popular flavours have emerged in the market that consumers should look out for?

 

Green Matcha: Health conscious South African’s have adopted the global trend of incorporating Green Matcha tea into their lifestyles. Matcha has amazing health benefits and it’s a good way to avoid extra calories this winter. Some restaurants like Mugg & Bean have even created a Matcha flavoured milkshake for the adventurous palates, and it’s delicious!

Salted caramel mocha: Salt has long been used throughout history to enhance the taste of food and, in particular, sweet flavours. Salt helps to balance out the taste by adding a new dimension of flavour to sweet caramel.

Hot spiced chocolate: According to Beedle, chocolate isn’t going anywhere. The Mayans worshipped the cacao tree and considered chocolate to be the ‘food of the gods’. Today, most of the population still reveres the taste of chocolate. In a way, hot spiced chocolate is a return to basics, harking back to the days where chocolate and spices were married to create delicious elixirs for health and vitality.

Mulled beverages: South Africans enjoy a version called Gluhwein – a warm European drink usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices. The drink is popular during winter because of the moreish spices immersed in orange infused red wine.

 

Another trend that is becoming more predominant is the health conscious option – is this a growing trend year on year?

 

Health trends are definitely on the rise. Consumers are shifting towards healthier options and, because of this, producers have had to answer the consumer call for healthier options. One of our greatest innovations this year has been a range of no-sugar added powders as well as sugar-free ice teas to provide health-conscious consumers with delicious and guilt-free beverages.

 

Is SA More European or American when it comes to hot drink choices?

 

When it comes to coffee, South Africans lean more towards European trends in terms of flavoured coffee, with Mocha (espresso based) coffee being the most used coffee base in South Africa. However, South Africans lean more towards American taste profiles when it comes to the more decadent beverage options – Research shows that Americans prefer subtle flavours with a very sweet base, while South Africans definitely prefer sweeter drinks as a nation.

 

 

 

How embedded is chocolate in SA hot drink culture?

 

Chocolate, especially hot chocolate, is a major part of our culture. We have all had it as part of our upbringing especially during winter. Much like coffee, chocolate is just one of those things that is definitely here to stay.

 

Deconstructed drinks – what is this trend about and will this continue to grow in South Africa?

 

It follows the trend of deconstructed foods. This trend creates an interactive experience for the consumer at the dinner table, and will likely stick around as long as the theme of deconstructed food stays alive. Many restaurants offer a range of deconstructed hot drinks, where the customer needs to “make it” themselves. This trend is also deeply embedded in the craft culture that has taken South Africa by storm.

 

We see vegetable based cocktails popping up here and there – is this a trend we should be watching?

 

It is a trend and we must keep an eye on it, but for now it is still low key in South Africa. Craft cocktails are the more popular trend, especially craft gins that incorporate fresh herbs and spices.

 

What herbs and spices make a special appearance on the winter menu, drinks-wise?

 

South Africans have a long history with earthy spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, but also enjoy the fire and smoky flavours that Ginger and Chipotle add. Experimenting with spices and other unique flavours has expanded the variety of winter drinks on offer, going beyond just the ordinary cuppa to give our taste buds an experience to look forward to.

The verdict is clear – salt, spices, coffee and chocolate are here to stay!