Coffee Megatrend #3: We own the magic demo; millennials LOVE coffee

By John Buckner — SVP, National Account Sales


As the largest coffee and tea manufacturer and supplier to restaurants and convenience stores in America, we are in tune with the trends of the away from home market for coffee — which entails 10 billion servings annually and is growing at a 6 percent clip. In this blog series, we will walk through 10 mega trends we’re seeing in the coffee industry.

We like to study the generations because their attitudes and perceptions coalesce into behaviors that are shaped by the events of the times. We have a fascinating one right now that requires our attention — the millennial generation.

After a failed attempt to uncover some insights into this generation through a home study — I guess my daughter didn’t want me to pick her brain— we embarked on a proper, large-scale study in conjunction with the research firm Datassential. This project has been underway for a couple of years now and has unearthed some interesting findings, including our next megatrend:

Coffee megatrend #3: We own the magic demo; millennials LOVE coffee

Here are a few highlights from the research that support this trend — compared to previous generations, millennials:

  • begin drinking coffee earlier…at around age 13
  • start with sweet, milky coffee beverages with flavors added, but over the course of a few years, they begin to shed these condiments to enjoy the pure taste of coffee alone
  • drink more coffee away from home, 1 in 4 vs. 1 in 6 occasions
  • move their purchases around and buy coffee from a lot of different places
  • are more likely to consider themselves coffee experts which means high engagement
  • are aware of or have tried more brewing and preparation methods
  • see customization as a basic need, not an enhanced or elevated need
  • are very aware of sustainability and feel good about places that offer sustainable coffee
  • may not know precisely what sustainability means, they do believe that the coffee will taste fresher and will be higher quality because of it
  • would even be willing to pay more for sustainably sourced coffee
  • are driving the cold coffee revolution – whether iced, frozen or cold-brewed

The millennial generation is more than 80 million strong. For them, coffee is an emotional experience that they are highly engaged in, and marketing to them requires aligning with their values and speaking to them authentically in their language.

I recently spent several days in Los Angeles in focus groups for one of the largest quick serve restaurants in America, and the whole purpose was to listen and learn what the millennial generation wants. I am certain that this sort of effort will not go unrewarded, because millennials are another key factor in our future growth.

Missed the first two posts in this series? Check out Coffee Megatrend #1: Coffee IS a Healthier for You Beverage and Coffee Megatrend #2: Coffee IS a Culinary Decision. Plus, stay tuned for more coffee megatrends, which we’ll be addressing in future blog posts.