The bottled-water generation likes its coffee too!

One of the questions addressed during the National Coffee Association (NCA) of the USA’s webinar, Trends from the 2022 NCA Generational Report, was ‘Has coffee drinking among teens always been so low?’

Presenters Cheryl Hung, vice president of insights and Megan Rankin, senior manager of insights at Dig Insights, did say that penetration of coffee in past-day and past-week is softer among Gen Z (including adults, ages 18-24), while Millennials (ages 25-39), Gen X (ages 40-59) and Boomers (ages 60+) drive consumption. However, coffee drinking among teens is on the rise with higher past-day penetration in 2022 — historically it has been lower. For example, in 2014, 19% of teens (13-17) had coffee in the past-day versus 27% in 2022 (almost 3 in 10 teens had coffee in past day).

And are Gen Z teens drinking specialty coffee? Rankin said that overall consumption of specialty coffee has grown significantly since 2008, with past-week espresso-blended beverage (EBB) penetration almost doubling at 38% in 2022. Millennials are more likely than any other generation to drink specialty coffee (64%), and more specifically EBBs (51%), in the past day. Among all coffees drank in the past day Gen X (54%) and Millennials have higher share of specialty cups vs non specialty, but Gen Z, both teens and adults, are fairly represented: 28% and 53% respectively for specialty coffee, and 23% and 44% respectively for EBBs.

In term of past-day coffee consumption, Gen Z and Millennials have an even higher share of specialty cups vs, non-specialty: Gen Z teens (70%), Gen Z adults (76%), Millennials (73%).

In 2008, during the global financial crisis, coffee drinking among those aged 18-24 decreased. But despite rising inflation in 2022, coffee drinking among Gen Z continues to be resilient and increases for older generations. “This time around, however, financial concerns are strongest among Gen X and Boomers,” said Hung. It is noteworthy, said Hung, that despite financial crisis, coffee is not being cut from the daily routine among any generation.

Gen Z and Millennials continue to show diversity in how they whiten their cups, such as flavoured creamers and especially, plant-based milks so it is important for coffee shops to have those options available.

Furthermore, while coffee drinking among teens tends to be out-of-home, a surprising number are also preparing coffee at home (74%), although it is more likely to be a cold brew or ready-to-drink coffee than one prepared via a drip coffee maker — the same is true for Millennials!

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