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Triestespresso

Has chai consumption peaked in the North American market? What flavors of chai are most popular?

Chai consumption definitely has not peaked. Here on the West Coast at least half of the coffee shops do not carry a chai yet. And the majority of restaurants do not yet carry a hai, either.

Flavors? Well, although many companies (most of whom know nothing about authentic chai, but can spot opportunity) are pumping out all sorts of new flavors like raspberry, vanilla, chocolate, and mint. the traditional flavor is still the top seller. Black tea and spices are really hard to improve on when it comes to something like chai, especially when done well.

The future of chai will depend on quality. Right now most companies are getting involved in the chai game strictly for profit and seem to have little appreciation for authentic chai. The quality will have to be there for the category to grow over the long-haul.

David Fields
President
Sattwa Enterprises
Newberg, Oregon


Just as tea consumption has yet to peak, so, too, does chai consumption. Within the coffee & tea industries it may seem that chai is yesterday's "hot" beverage, but most of the American population is still unfamiliar with it, which means huge growth potential. Over the next several years we should see chai continuing its move toward the main stream, being a fixture of OCS (office coffee service) programs and more main stream markets.

As far as flavors go, original, or spice, is the leader.

Scott Lowe
President
David Rio Coffee & Tea
San Francisco, California


Not even close! As an East Coast chai manufacturer, we have seen tremendous growth in Pacific Chai over the last few years, mostly in the specialty coffee arena. More recently, strong interest has developed in the restaurant, grocery, and office coffee markets. Powdered products like ours permit a variety of packaging, making chai marketable in a broad range of retail environments. We expect strong growth to continue as more consumers discover the unique taste of chai.

Pacific Chai Vanilla is our most popular flavor. Based on our experience, customers start with one of our standard varieties, vanilla or spice, and add their premium syrups to create unique blends. Raspberry, amaretto, peach, and double vanilla are among the most popular.

Joyce Kerman McSpadden
Principal
Pacific Beverage
Lanham, Maryland


Compared to specialty coffee drinks, Chai is relatively unknown. Most people in America associate Chai with a sweet, holiday ("pumpkin pie") flavor, so in a sense it has been pigeon-holed. That has led some to assume that sales have peaked, or nearly peaked, but this is a mistake. As consumers come realize that "chai" is a category, not just a single flavor, interest will increase.

The public needs to know more about tea and Chai before peak consumption is reached. Our unsweetened Chai sales continue to outperform expectations, and more companies are following our lead and offering a more traditional chai, with emphasis on tea, not sweetener. This will create more opportunities for different flavors, but, for now, the most popular flavor nationwide still seems to be "Sweet."

Aaron Kristee Brown
Owner
Gaia Chai, LLC
Anchorage, Alaska



Tea & Coffee - May/June 2000
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