The Future of Coffee?

When I look back at my high school years I can’t remember a single friend, male or female, that drank coffee. I graduated in 1986 or, as Marcie in the office likes to remind me, exactly 10 years before her… Even as I moved into my early 20’s I don’t recall my friends drinking coffee on a regular basis. At that age, I honestly would not have had a cup of coffee even if your offered me $20 to drink it…. Wow, have times changed as I now drink coffee daily.

Taking my early lack of interest in coffee into consideration, who would have guessed my career path would have included what many refer to as Black Gold? Now with almost 20 years under my belt here at Gourmet I often think about the future of our business. I don’t mean the ever changing world of coffee equipment and beverages from cartridge style brewers like Tassimo, Keurig and Pods or even digital touch screen units that brew bean to cup. What I mean is how the hot beverages of choice of our young people are changing right before my eyes. It’s a common site in our household to have our 18 year old daughter and several of her friends around the kitchen table enjoying light, medium and dark roast coffees, flavored coffees, lattes and cappuccinos. Really?! At their age, My friends and I would have been more interested in what we could have taken out of my Dad’s liquor cabinet where her generation is more taken with what selections her Dad has available in his wonderful coffee machine.

Another indication of how things have changed over a generation, is seeing Second Cup and Starbucks show up almost on a daily basis on her debit transaction list. These changes in consumption have resulted in my daughter and her friends being far more knowledgeable about coffee than my friends and I ever were at their age.

Here are a few facts to think about from the National Coffee Association (NCA) from their 2011 National Coffee Drinking Trends survey…

2011 Study Highlights – Coffee Consumption is Up
• 40% of 18-24 year olds drink coffee daily, up from 31% in 2010.
• 54% of adults age 25-39, said they drink coffee daily, up from 44% in 2010.
• These figures aligned with findings that 29% of those 18-39 felt better about their financial situation than last year, while other age groups did not.
• Gourmet coffee continues to be a significant portion (37%) of total coffee consumed – indicating that consumers want to maintain coffee quality despite the uncertain economy

Most interesting to me in the very 1st point – Coffee consumption among 18-24 year olds in up 9% in one year… So if what I see at my kitchen table is a sign of what is to come for our industry, the future is bright. Sometimes you don’t need to research of conduct polls just look around you. What will my daughters expectations be of her future employers? Will she make a decision to join a firm who has a great dental, disability plan and a strong pension plan or a firm that has all three plus great coffee in the workplace to keep her focused and productive? I’m betting the latter and there is every reason to believe she will not be alone, because my kitchen table has provided me with a glimpse of the future.

These changes in consumption have resulted in my daughter and her friends being far more knowledgeable about coffee than my friends and I ever were at their age.