Over the past decade, categories such as yogurt, chocolate, and juice have made this leap from commodity to mass delicacy. Some consumers no longer blanch at a $9 bar of chocolate half the size of a Snickers or $11 for a cold-pressed juice. Not only have these become the fastest-growing segments in their respective categories, they've created multimillion-dollar markets that never before existed. Greek yogurt was an obscure 1% of U.S. yogurt sales in 2007. Then Chobani entered the scene, luring consumers away from their sugary-sweet Yoplaits. Now Greek yogurt accounts for 40% of the $7.4 billion U.S. yogurt market, while industry heavyweights like Danone and General Mills are racing to catch up.
Coffee crusaders are convinced that they are on the verge of a similar disruption, and they've got deep-pocketed investors cheering them on. After Starbucks's 20-year reign as coffee's dominant force, this once fringe group is launching a culinary, cultural, and financial battle to get a piece of the $30 billion U.S. coffee market.
These are the purists who aim to persuade us to convert our morning ritual to a $7 cup of black gold.
[Image: Flickr user Michael Allen Smith]