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A hand holds a cup of boba tea. The Technomic Top 500 logo is in the upper righthand corner. Getty Images
The beverage category, whether coffee, smoothie, juice, iced tea, soda, or boba drinks, saw much success in 2023.

Beverage concepts boom as budget-minded customers look to indulge

Coffee, tea, soda, smoothie, juice, and boba concepts all performed well

What do you do in a climate in which consumers are pressed for time and price-sensitive but want to treat themselves a little? Sell them drinks.

That’s why the beverage category, whether coffee, smoothie, juice, iced tea, soda, or boba drinks, saw so much success in 2023. Of the 46 chains Technomic categorizes as coffee or “other beverage/snack,” 42 saw growth.

The fastest growing were smaller chains such as 7 Brew Drive Thru Coffee, which increased its unit count by 350% to 180 restaurants and saw a sales jump of 267%, and HTeaO, which opened 33 units, an increase of 47% to 103 locations amid sales growth of nearly 54%.

Soda concept Swig opened 15 units, ending the year at 60 locations, and sales were up by 39%.

But mid-sized chains such as Scooter’s Coffee and Dutch Bros were big winners, too. Scooter’s opened 195 locations, closing out the year with 750 units as sales grew by just under 41%. And Dutch Bros opened 160 units, giving it a total of 831, as sales grew by 24%.

And even the behemoths did all right. Starbucks’ sales are up by 12.5% and its unit count is up by 3.7%, and Dunkin’ grew its unit count by 2.2%, with sales up by 5.7%.

Other big winners in the category include boba concept Gong Cha, which opened 35 restaurants as sales jumped by 29%; Ziggi’s Coffee, now at 78 units compared to 65 in 2022 (an 20% increase) as sales were up by 28%; and PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, which saw sales grow by 23% as it opened 21 new locations.

Nekter Juice Bar was the fastest growing juice concept, with sales up by 18.5%, and Smoothie King grew its sales by 16.5%, the fastest growth in the smoothie category.

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All data courtesy Technomic Ignite Company data. Looking for more data? Click here to access the complete Technomic Top 500.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

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