While Dunkin’ is a leader in coffee, the 12,700-location brand only recently added a true frozen coffee option to its menu—a blended beverage made from 100 percent Arabica coffee extract. Before 2017, the company had only offered a coffee-flavored frozen drink in its Coolatta line of blended beverages, which was launched in 1997. On the more indulgent end of the spectrum, Dunkin’ has also seen success in its Frozen Chocolate beverage that was released in 2011, as well as its rotating seasonal options.

Read more: Figuring Out Frozen: Why Cool Beverages Are Heating Up

QSR talked with Dunkin’s director of culinary innovation for beverages, Paul Racicot, to understand the strategy behind the brand’s current selection of frozen beverages, how it chooses LTOs, and what he thinks might be trending in the future.

Dunkin’ offers a suite of frozen options, from the more fruit-forward Coolatta line to frozen chocolate and coffee. How does each category serve your guests’ needs?

You tapped into our barbell strategy. We know consumers are all different—even a consumer throughout the day may have different needs. If you’re going to have that refreshing drink, you can have your Coolatta. If you want something more indulgent, you’re going to the Frozen Chocolate. If you’re a coffee person, but just want your coffee fix in a different format—whether it’s a summer day or not—you can have it in that frozen format.

What prompted the change to Dunkin’s new frozen coffee in 2017?

We realized consumer tastes had changed. We really wanted something that was more coffee-forward, more true to the coffee that we sell hot and iced but in a frozen format. That’s done quite well for us. When we developed frozen coffee, we asked, “What do people love about our iced coffee?” We’re a leader in iced coffee and wanted to translate that into a frozen version. Along with that, we’re a flavor leader, so we see a lot of people ordering their favorite flavors in frozen coffee. We see that continuing to happen. No surprise, pumpkin is a big success for us.

The Coolatta line has been around for more than 20 years at this point. Can you tell me about where it is now?

Today, we have a variety of flavors for the Coolatta, including Vanilla Bean, Strawberry, and Blue Raspberry. Over the years, we’ve continued to evolve our frozen beverage platform to meet the changing needs of consumers, introducing fun new flavors and limited-time offerings such as Mango Passionfruit, Pina Coolada, Raspberry Lime, and Mint Oreo. This past summer, we had Cosmic Coolattas in Pineapple and Cotton Candy, which were made with natural colors and were very vibrant and clean tasting. We’re in an Instagram world. Cosmic definitely ties into that. People are very visual when they eat.

What’s Dunkin’s process of developing frozen LTOs?

Similar to how we do other categories, we’re working with our insights team and reaching out to consumers. We want to be on trend, and we always look at things through a prism of, “Is it authentic to who we are?” We’re a fun brand. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and I think that’s reflected in how we develop menu items.

There are certain things that we’ve looked at in the past and asked, “Does it pass the believability test for us?” If I said I was going to make an avocado Coolatta, people wouldn’t think of that as a Dunkin’ item. We try to stay true to what’s on trend, but also what is approachable.

We like many flavors developed in this process, but choose to keep them in the library for the following year until we decide what we want to hit thematically. A new flavor has to make sense and tie together with our other programs at the restaurant.

Read more: Cool Cravings: Three of the Most Craveable Frozen Drinks on the Market

Do you have some examples of LTOs that passed the believability test and did well with your guests, too?

This last year was a really good year for us. The Cosmic Coolattas really took off—no pun intended. This past summer we launched Frozen Lemonade in Strawberry and Original. Lemonade is something that’s trending now, and we came out with that just at the right time. I think refreshment is a category we’re going to see a lot of activity in in the industry

Menu Innovations, Story