Monday, June 26, 2017

Coffee Meets Chocolate at the 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo



I attended the Sweets & Snacks Expo (aka, The Candy Show) which was held May 23-25 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The trade show organized by the National Confectioners Association hosted over 800 exhibitors representing candy, chocolate, and snacks companies. In this article, I will talk about the "coffee meets chocolate" trend while other articles will highlight other trends in snacking that I saw at the show – chickpeas and lentils in the snack aisle; spicy and fruity notes; meat snacks offer breakfast, gourmet, and kosher options: and popcorn appeals to both health and indulgence seekers.



Combining coffee with chocolate is not a new practice as chocolate covered espresso beans have been around for a long time. Woodstock Foods offered Organic Dark Chocolate Coffee Beans at the show. However, I saw many more confectionery items using coffee as an ingredient at this year’s show than previous shows as chocolate makers seek to capitalize on the growing interest in drinking specialty coffee, especially among millennials. One new launch is Wild Ophelia Cold Brew Chocolate Bites from Vosges Ltd. that features cold brew coffee and chocolate fudge centers covered with solid chocolate. Vosges highlighted the growing awareness and popularity of cold brew coffee in its sell sheet by citing research firm Mintel’s data that estimated cold brew coffee sales grew by 338.9% from 2010-2015. Cold brew coffee sales have skyrocketed in the U.S. because it offers a smoother, less acidic coffee through the process of steeping ground coffee in water for about 12-18 hours without using heat.

In addition to a love of cold brew coffee, many millennial consumers have an interest in products made in a sustainable manner that supports farmers and the community. Wild Ophelia’s Cold Brew Chocolate Bites are Fair Trade certified, and a portion of the proceeds go to supporting female food entrepreneurs. Amore di Mona uses fair trade and organic ingredients including Dutch cocoa butter, Madhava agave nectar, and La Semeuse coffee beans in its Chocolate With Crunchy Coffee Beans that is also gluten, soy & nut free. 





These coffee-filled products offer a quick burst of caffeinated energy for on-the-go consumers in a portable format. CoffeeSnacks, Inc touts its Java Me Up! Coffee Bars as “Coffee That Never Spills”. Its Java Me Up! Café Mocha Coffee Bar is a caffeinated energy bar with 35 mg of caffeine, 6g of protein, and 5g of fiber and is made with organic, shade-grown, direct trade coffee; dark chocolate; rolled oats; almonds; sunflower seeds; flaxseed; and chicory root fiber. Awake Chocolate says that one Awake Caffeinated Chocolate Bar contains 100mg of caffeine, equivalent to a cup of coffee. An even higher caffeine content is claimed by the GET UP and GO Energy Shot Cookie from Get Up and Go Ventures that is aimed at energy shot drinkers with 180mg of caffeine in a 3oz cookie (two servings in each cookie) to “Knock Out the 3pm Slump”.





In terms of portability, the smallest caffeinated item at the show was Coffee Thins in a 0.35oz package from Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa. The Coffee Thins look like little chocolate squares and are made with 100% arabica coffee beans and cocoa butter. The company’s licensed Krispy Kreme Coffee Thins “Your On-The-Go Coffee Snack” were created to taste like the coffee from the popular doughnut shop chain. 


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