In 2017 millennials officially became the leading generation in coffee consumption, according to the National Coffee Association (NCA). This not only corresponds to an increase in coffee demand, pushing it to historical records, but it also brought several new interesting trends in the coffee industry, changing the way coffee is purchased and consumed.
Coffee and Social Media
Millennials are known to be the most social and tech savvy generation so far. And this is reflected in the vast amount of coffee pictures being uploaded every day on social media, especially on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. But it also means a shift in the consumption uses, from the private apartment to mainstream public venues. Millennials, as opposed to their older counterparts, value more the experience rather than the price. Therefore, they look more for the socially accepted and trendy location to have their morning coffee. At the same time, they also have different tastes compared to the previous generation, which is reflected in new and different approaches adopted to brew coffee.
Cold brew does not simply correspond to putting ice in regular coffee. It is an elaborate process that consists of brewing coffee with room temperature or cold water between 12 and 24 hours. The result is a cold cup of coffee with a more rounded taste, less acidity, and a full body. The cold brew method has been on the market now for two years but it keeps on growing in popularity, especially due to more sophisticated machines refining the process and enhancing the taste.
The coming year may be the breakout year for nitro coffee. Nitro coffee is created by adding nitrogen to cold brew coffee, resulting in a drink with a naturally creamy feel. Connoisseurs of the coffee industry may already be familiar with nitro coffee as the beverage has been in the market for the past few years at coffee shops and as a RTD beverage. However, nitro has become mainstream due to Starbucks, which introduced nitro coffee in select stores nationwide.
Organic refers to the production of a product without using any artificial or chemical substances, such as additives. Millennials are more and more focused on eco-sustainability and feel consuming organic coffee is an important denominator for their experience. And that is why they are willing to pay a premium price for a coffee that is certified to be organic.
It is not entirely clear what constitutes “gourmet” in the coffee context however, NCA loosely defined gourmet as any sort of non-instant Arabica or Arabica blend coffee product, which might include certain K-cups, premium Arabica roasts from local roasters, bagged grocery coffee, or filter coffee and espresso drinks served in independent and chain coffee shops. This year, the NCA added a new drinks category, including frozen blended, cold brew and nitrogen-infused.
These are the key trends of the coffee industry and it is rapidly changing due to the millennial coffee connoisseurs. They are pushing for cold brews, iced lattes and are more willing to pay a premium for organic and the social setting that aligns with their image.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.