The Coffee Industry Is Changing: Here’s What Your Business Needs to Know

Given that 64% of Americans are drinking coffee every single day, it’s important to know how this vast growth in the industry is changing the business.

If you’re in the coffee world and not prepared for how the coffee industry is changing, you’re going to be blindsided by the things to come. You need to be prepared for changing demographics, changes in flavor, and how it’s grown if you want to attract new audiences.

Here are five things to look out for in the coffee world.

1. Drinkers Are Getting Younger

Where coffee was once a tired and stale industry with can after can of freeze-dried and overcooked beans, the industry is changing fast. With more scientific studies showing the health benefits of drinking coffee and more cafes bringing the flavor out of beans, more people are enjoying coffee.

With better roasting techniques, shorter times sitting on the shelf, and more cups made by hand, people are discovering what brewers have known all along. The average coffee drinker is able to taste flavor notes like never before thanks to improved techniques and ways of making coffee.

Most millennials are now coffee drinkers, and Generation Z is jumping aboard the caffeine train younger than ever. Younger drinkers are using places like Starbucks as a status symbol, even if they’re just getting a shot of espresso underneath 24 ounces of milk.

2. Coffee Trends

As coffee shakes and sweet alternatives to coffee are becoming popular, the old days of bitter black coffee are not appreciated as much. New specialty coffees roasted with high-quality beans are becoming more popular in small cafes though they are competing with mainstream cafes and restaurants. While true coffee lovers still drink black coffee that has been roasted carefully, the new generation of coffee drinkers are just starting to appreciate coffee that has been carefully grown and roasted.

3. Bottled Drinks Are Ready to Go

While it may have started with the biggest companies on the market, now even small and independent companies are starting to bottle their coffee. With more people looking for quality coffee on the go, more roasters are trying their hand at cold brew drinks. They’re even packaging signature lattes that are ready to drink right out of the cooler.

Ready to go coffee is premade and found everywhere from gas stations and convenience stores to high-end grocers. Bottled coffee can be better than we’d ever imagined, with appetizing options now available. There are sweet options and options that preserve the quality of the beans.

It’s surprising how far we’ve come, but there are now cold coffee options that rival the best in hot drinks. Where once you had to settle for burned pots that had been sitting around on the counter for hours, you can now find quality coffee in your local gas station’s cooler.

4. Fairtrade Is Powerful

With more people getting to see just how important it is to treat workers fairly, more buyers are invested fairly traded coffee. The average consumer has never been more aware of how the products and services they buy are sourced. Now you can find fair trade coffee everywhere from the granola-crunchy local cafe to your favorite fast food restaurant.

Fairtrade is powerful because it improves the lives of the people who grow and pick coffee around the world. In some areas, people who pick coffee are still paid low wages that keep them in poverty. If we’re willing to pay a few more cents per cup, together, we can vastly improve the quality of life for the people who make our cups of coffee possible.

There are special certifications that are handed out by international non-profits to determine who is really fairly trading for coffee. When you’re buying your own beans, check and see that your coffee is fair trade and helping contribute a little more to the world.

5. Sustainability Is Important

As many coffee producers moved into the single-cup Keurig-style coffee production lifestyle, other coffee makers protested. They saw this as moving in the wrong direction while we’re facing down the barrel of a climate change-shaped shotgun. Coffee is grown in warm climates but when it gets too hot, then it’s harder to produce.

Consumers and coffee roasters alike are looking for sustainably grown beans. In this case, coffee trees are grown organically and don’t cause rapid deforestation that’s been a problem for decades. Earth and water are paid attention to so as to avoid erosion.

Sustainable growing has never been more popular or more well supported. In the next few decades, we’ll see this become the default way that we get coffee in the world. Sustainability isn’t just for show, but for our very survival as a species.

It’s worth more than any cup of coffee in the world.

The Coffee Industry Is Massive

Between growers, roasters, cafes, and bottlers, there are so many stakeholders in the coffee industry that any changes impact millions of people. Even the milk and sugar industries keep their eyes on coffee. As coffee changes, so does everything around in and everyone working in it so pay attention or you’ll fall behind.

Three Common Questions

1. How are changing demographics influencing coffee consumption trends?

The increasing influence of younger generations like Millennials and Generation Z on coffee consumption is shaping several trends. These groups are known for their preference for premium, artisanal, and specialty coffee products. They often seek out unique and diverse flavor profiles and are more interested in the story behind the coffee, such as its origin and the brewing technique. This demographic shift is also driving the popularity of coffee shop culture as a social activity and workspace, leading to a rise in coffee consumption outside the home. Additionally, younger consumers tend to be more health-conscious and environmentally aware, which influences their choices towards sustainably sourced and ethically produced coffee.

2. What are the specific health benefits of coffee that are encouraging its increased consumption?

Scientific studies have linked regular coffee consumption with several health benefits, which have helped to boost its popularity. These benefits include a lower risk of several serious diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Coffee is also known to improve cognitive function, increase metabolism, and enhance physical performance. Moreover, it contains essential nutrients like riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), magnesium, potassium, and various antioxidants, which play a role in overall health maintenance.

3. How do fair trade practices and sustainability impact the cost of coffee to the consumer?

Fair trade and sustainable practices in coffee production often lead to higher costs due to the more labor-intensive methods of cultivation and the fair compensation provided to growers. However, these practices can also lead to a higher quality product. Many consumers, particularly in the younger demographics, are willing to pay a premium for coffee that is ethically sourced and sustainably produced, appreciating the social and environmental considerations. Over time, as these practices become more widespread and efficient, the cost differential may decrease, making sustainably produced coffee more accessible to a broader audience.

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