“You want that hug-in-a-cup experience,” says Sonam Sherpa, co-founder of Golden Brown Coffee. He’s referring to styles of coffee that are perennially popular in winter, including larger volumes of milky coffee at cafes, and also thicker coffees at home via French press or stovetop makers.

He would know. After making videos during the pandemic to teach people how to make cafe-quality coffee at home, Sherpa and Rohan Cooke started an online coffee roastery to go with their social media channel of the same name. As roasters and content creators, they flex their know-how regularly on Instagram.

As the height of winter approaches, Sherpa has gathered a quick rundown of trending coffee (and non-coffee) styles that are gaining momentum this season. And if you need another reason to try one, the timing is ideal, as StreetSmart’s annual coffee-led campaign, CafeSmart is running from August 10 to 16.

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To participate, buy a coffee at a CafeSmart partner venue on August 16 and $1 from each purchase will go towards supporting people experiencing homelessness and sleeping rough on the street, in cold cars and damp tents. Donations from the coffee orders will help provide immediate and impactful support for those most at risk, including hot meals, safe shelter, clothing, health support and social connection.

“I don’t think it’s ever been any easier, really,” says Sherpa. “You just go in, buy your coffee and then all the cafes donate a dollar. You don’t have to do anything extra. It raises awareness in the middle of winter about homelessness and sleeping on the street.”

You can also donate to the campaign personally any time from August 10 to 16. With that in mind, here are the winter drinking trends taking hold at a cafe near you.

Co-fermented coffee
More nuanced than just adding flavoured syrup to coffee upon serving, co-fermented coffee sees growers infusing playful secondary flavours into the beans. Kirk Pearson at Project Zero in Melbourne has been doing a coffee that’s co-fermented with cinnamon and tastes like a cinnamon scroll when brewed with milk. Other potential options include orange rinds, peach or cherry.

“It’s infusing the flavour of those things into the coffee itself,” says Sherpa. “People have been experimenting with it for the past few years, but now it’s becoming really prevalent.”

Cocktail-style coffees
By now we all know The Mont Blanc, created by Carlton cafe Good Measure, which quickly went viral. It remains a popular winter drink, thanks to its stacked personality of heavy-bodied filter coffee topped with velvety cream, orange and nutmeg.

“It’s exactly what you want at this time of year,” says Sherpa. “All the flavours combined gives you the wintry aspect, but also a really nice textural pleasure as you’re drinking it. There are more of these drinks around that are a bit more adult and refined. You take your time drinking them.”

The integration of cocktails and coffee brings with it a range of new ingredients to feature in your drinks. Those include extracts and syrups as well as cold foam, a combination of cream, milk and sugar that’s whipped or foamed to sit on top of the drink. Richer sugars are now in the mix too, with demerara and muscovado making the leap from baking to cosy cuppas.

S’mores hot chocolate
This one’s not a coffee but hot chocolate is a perennial winter drink in its own right. Enter the s’mores hot chocolate, dramatically ringed by melted marshmallow and topped with a scoop of cream.

“This is just starting to hit in Australia now, but it was really popular in New York during their winter,” says Sherpa. “It’s a really indulgent hot cocoa in the cup, and then they pipe it with a ring of liquid marshmallow that’s more in the meringue fashion. It lines the whole rim, and then they get a blowtorch and torch it off. It’s quite visually striking.”

Decaf coffee
You might be surprised to see decaf on this list, but it’s making a comeback in circles of coffee drinkers who value pure flavour over caffeine content. It can be compared to the recent rise in non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits, which punch above their weight in the booze market.

“What’s happening with decaf now is that you’re being treated as a true lover of coffee if you can drink decaf,” says Sherpa. “So, it’s actually the messaging around it that’s changed, which I think is really cool. It’s a nice way to validate decaf – it shows that you’re a connoisseur of the flavour, not just a caffeine addict.”

More non-dairy milks
It’s not news that there are plenty of alternatives to cow milk out there, but options and preferences are ever-evolving. As with many of the above trends, it’s just one more way to reinvent the all-too-familiar experience of ordering your usual coffee (or hot chocolate) at your favourite cafe.

Sherpa recommends experimenting with macadamia milk in particular, for its flavour as well as being an Australian indigenous nut. “That coupled with a hot cocoa is delightful – it almost tastes more like a cookie,” he says.

Whichever drink takes your fancy, make sure to order one at a participating CafeSmart venue on August 16. Or if you’re enjoying a warm brew at home, consider paying the cost of your coffee forward online.

Broadsheet is a proud media partner of StreetSmart. CafeSmart 2024 runs from August 10 to 16, 2024.