Snaxshot #30: Caffeine Renaissance

your head will collapse, but there's nothing in it

A newsletter on upcoming food and beverage trends that offers a curation of brands and aesthetics written by Andrea Hernández.

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I've seen so much, I'm going blind
And I'm brain-dead virtually
Is hard enough for me
Take me away from this big, bad world

—Coffee and TV, Blur

🔮 Peek into the future:

  • Ape into the caffeinverse

  • Micro dosing caffeine

  • Instant caffeine mist

  • Beanless coffee drink

  • Oracular Spectacular

  • Aesthetic Trend

  • Spoonful of News

Things Have Gotten Meshed Up

Hello from your ethereal, non-fungible being who is less inclined to be labeled a degen, but exploring what it looks like to decentralize snacks, that is, asking the necessary question of “how do we take speculative, future forward industry information and break it down for a mainstream audience?”—yes, that is indeed me.

We are living in the explorative era, haven’t you heard? Oh… you’re not extremely online you say? That’s totally fine because the reality is the boundaries between IRL vs URL are continuously blurring, we can now meet up at your place in the Treeverse and check out your pristinely decorated plot or go on an adventure with our newly secured Loot —or alternatively we can ape into a new NFT collection to reduce our constant FOMO.

If you’re feeling exhausted from this conversation, open your mouth, here’s some Pzaz, oh… you don’t know what it is? The explorative era is not just for tech, but there’s a whole renaissance movement for caffeine consumption and how that’s shaping our relationships to it.

Let’s ape right into this.

It’s Not You, It’s Me, Literally

Before we move forward, it’s always good to look at where we are coming from. The relationship with caffeine varies depending on where you’re from, there are more productivity centered ties to getting a kick, versus those that have treated coffee cups as indulgence. Yet somehow, in the last years, and perhaps due to our constant inability to defer from excess, caffeine has gotten a bad reputation of sorts?

How is this even possible when we have different sects of folks —those who cannot take caffeine because it affects them too much, versus those who can drown in it to almost no effect? It’s not you caffeine, it’s literally me. Over the last years studies have shown that your reaction to caffeine can all depend on your genetic makeup.

So just have that as context before we dive further in, that caffeine effects can be subjective.

Brew to the Future

As we dive further in to the caffeineverse here’s some cLoot to build off:

Micro Dose Roast

Leave to us to indulge in overconsumption of caffeine, and how could we not, it’s the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world, that has ultimately led to the rise of what I coined, functional unwinding, a sweet spot that allows for us to indulge in two simultaneous states instead of committing to just one, and it’s no surprise that this behavior has permeated the coffee industry. According to studies, to achieve an optimal energy zone, one should generally need to consume between 60 mg and 100 mg of caffeine, in this zone, one’s overall ability to concentrate and perform is more ideal over a steady period of time.

Enter the rise of the micro dose roast and Buzz Lite. What’s in a micro dose? This brand uses the same 10% ratio of psychoactive substance commonly used when micro-dosing LSD, psilocybin, and other psychedelics. So basically it’s less than regular, but not as small for it to be classified as decaf (3%) —this brand was recently accepted into Target’s Forward Founder’s cohort and with good reason considering the rise in this overall movement, and its appeal to both Millennials and GenZ alike.

The brand is currently working on an RTD version of this called Buzz Ice, which is smart given GenZ’s appeal to cold brews (higher than their predecessors Millennials and in contrast to the older generation’s care for hot coffee)—ultimately they want to reframe the conversation around low caffeinated coffee to a more positive one, even for the most purist caffeine takers.

Instant Caffeine Mist

Walk into a bodega in the Lower East Side of NYC and instead of a 5 Hour Energy pack near the counter, you’ll find a hard to miss, bright yellow box with what to a 90s kid resembles a Push Pop. If you’re wondering, WHAT THE FUCK IS IT? You’re not alone, as the boxes are almost all empty from curious consumers wondering the exact same thing. 

Pzaz is an alluring and pocketable caffeine mist created by Jonah Reider, an unapologetic 20-something year old you may see wondering around NYC with his ‘zazbag’ in tow, always eager to chat to more bodega owners about his product. Tired of the outdated messaging and functionality of energy shots, Jonah worked with the former head of flavor and formulation at PepsiCo to create a new form factor for energy that is unprecedentedly affordable, sustainable, social, and sharable. Every mist of Pzaz contains a micro-dose of caffeine and electrolytes that is instantly absorbed into the membranes on your tongue and mouth. 

When I asked “why don’t you carry 5 Hour Energy anymore,” one bodega owner replied “that stuff hasn’t been selling for a while” — and they were correct in their statement as data shows that 5 Hour Energy, even with 90%+ market share, has experienced a significant and steady decline in revenue over the past half decade. 

Jonah is deviating at every turn from the expensive pastel-hued beverages and supplements that target millennial consumers with dubious additives and ingredients. He sees a huge hole in the category, especially at convenience retailers, and has taken a stab with a product and brand that’s simple, effective, affordable, and fun. The result is an energy product that complements rather than competes with coffee, living in consumers pockets and purses and being used and shared multiple times per day.

While walking into few bodegas with him one hot summer afternoon, we asked “who is buying these?” and received a clear answer: “young people.” Branding for the project was done in close collaboration with the designer Zipeng Zhu and with Cami Tellez, the founder of Parade Underwear. Just take a look at their brand Instagram to see the world he’s created that’s equal parts convenient, chaotic and chic. 

While many more expensive ‘functional’ CPG products grow slowly from boutique grocers into Whole Foods, expect to see Pzaz explode as the functional energy product of choice for folks shopping primarily at convenience retailers, gas stations, and third party marketplaces like GoPuff and What’s nuts is that the brand hasn’t even officially launched. Speaking of degen, this is one to keep an eye out and mouth open for.

Beanless Caffeine

It’s no shock to anyone who has seen the constant influx of natural disasters in the past month alone, from earthquakes, hurricanes to fires —that climate change is officially here, and with that comes a chain of consequences that will affect our daily life, even in the things we take granted, as small as a cup of coffee. As demand for caffeine rises steadily every year, the capacity and land available to grow coffee is shrinking, studies now forecast by 2050, we will have lost 50% of it, not to mention, coffee is the fifth-most polluting crop in the value chain.

So what does the future of coffee production look like in the next 30 years? Costa Rican born founder, Maricel Saenz has an answer, the future is coffee without beans. She founded Compound Foods last year to explore the use of synthetic biology to create coffee without coffee beans by extracting molecules. Because there is no regulation around the terminology “coffee” they can still technically call it so, not only are they focusing on “just coffee” but working towards recreating coffee flavors that resemble the parts of the world where coffee is produced like Costa Rica, or Brazil.

The company has recently raised $4.5 M from funds like Lower Carbon Capital, Collaborative Fund and angel investors like Nick Green, who is the CEO of Thrive Market. To no surprise considering the urgency of being able to address this time sensitive issue—though they state they are in no way competing with coffee, simply providing an alternative solution to bridge consumption with supply, and they are hoping one day to be able to work alongside coffee farmers as well.

Oracular Spectacular

Yes You Can: Newly launched, it’s a non-alcoholic drink with a cool vibe.

Salsita Mao: Fuck, this chili oil brand based in Mexico is a TRIP!

Parc Beer: New from Monceau, a non-alcoholic beer with classic aesthetics.

Capicua: A Mexican kombucha brand that is very psychedelic and also preaches God is a woman, which I might have to agree with.

Touchy Coffee: Huge fan of their bags and branding, they’ve recently launched an RTD format and it’s equally as fun!

Arlo Kombucha: New hard kombucha brand launched in Canada and caused a little stir this weekend because people think you can’t really read the font, the vibe is DOPE though!

Spoonful of News 🥄

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