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What's behind this budding QSR menu trend

Taco Bell introduces three new iced coffees to its menu in a local test


Welcome to First Bite, a Nation’s Restaurant News podcast, your daily source of news from NRN hosted by Holly Petre.

Today, we’re talking about iced coffee,

The demand for cold brew and iced coffee is surging, evidenced in part by last year’s double-digit growth of cold brew makers.

In fact, according to the National Coffee Association, one in five Americans under 40 consume a cold brew at least once a week, versus 2015, when cold coffees were “virtually unknown.” This uptick has become crystal clear at Starbucks, which now generates 75% of its sales from cold beverages.  The company’s “cold category” has grown 10% throughout the past two years.

Taco Bell seems to be looking for a bigger piece of that market. The company is testing three new iced coffee flavors – Dulce de Leche, Mexican Chocolate Mocha and Sweet Vanilla – in the Fresno, California, and Philadelphia markets for a limited time. According to a company spokesperson, the Mexican-inspired offerings are priced at $2.99.

Taco Bell is constantly testing new items, so a two-market pilot may not turn a lot of heads, but there is a bigger narrative here should these beverages roll out nationally. The chain has been offering iced coffee since the launch of its breakfast daypart in 2014. Just recently, however, has it started exploring variations, including a Cinnabon Delights Coffee introduction in March. That, along with this new test, signals the nascent category is primed for a deeper marketing and innovation push.

Hear more from executive editor Alicia Kelso.

Plus, catch up on all the top news of the day with our daily news recap at the beginning of each episode.

Be sure to subscribe to First Bite wherever you get your podcasts or on Spotify, or Apple Podcasts.

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