America’s coffee culture continues to evolve as new brews, brewing methods, bean sources and technologies emerge. Millennials take the lead with java trends, and the under-40 demographic drives growth in cold brew and ready-to-drink categories, according to the National Coffee Association.
Social media posts — namely TikTok — have piqued interest in this whipped coffee drink made by combining instant coffee, sugar and hot water. The drink has a honeycomb flavor and a tan, thick, meringue-type foam on top.
With more people eschewing dairy, milk substitutes have become staples in coffee cafes. These include almond, soy, rice, cashew and oat milk.
Functional nutrition has made its way into the coffee segment with variations such as mushroom coffee, a blend of powdered mushrooms with ground coffee that has antioxidants and benefits digestion. More functional twists include collagen creamers that add protein and buttered or bulletproof coffee, said to boost energy, improve brain function and act as a weight-loss aid.
More coffee cocktails continue to make their way onto bar menus. Joining the ubiquitous espresso martinis and Irish coffee are Siciliano cocktails, composed of sweet Italian vermouth and cold brew coffee, along with cold brew Negroni, made with gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and cold brew coffee.
The popularity of nitro coffee continues, produced by infusing coffee with nitrogen, which results in a texture that is both creamy and thick.
Coffee Equipment Gets Creative
- Flash chilling machines
- Undercounter espresso systems
- Grinders with variable speeds, digital memory and self-calibration
- Espresso machines with ergonomic designs, multiple heads, and innovative steam and water activation features
- Automated cold brew equipment
- Cold brew systems that use nitrogenated water in a gas infuser
- Batch brewers with independent spray heads for individual brew water delivery profiles
- Single-cup brewers offering bean-to-cup technology
- Nitro faucets, coffee taps, chinois strainers
Coffee Chatter with National Coffee Association CEO Bill Murray
Q: How have coffee habits changed recently?
A: A September 2020 NCA study shined the light on COVID-19’s impact on Americans’ coffee-drinking habits. The report, Coffee, Consumers & COVID-19, found the pandemic has not changed how much coffee Americans drink, but it has impacted when and where they drink it. Out-of-home coffee consumption fell by 20% from January 2020 to September, with many people staying home due to the pandemic. At the same time, drive-thru purchasing increased by 13%, and app/delivery purchasing rocketed by 63%. Consumption at home has remained steady. While out-of-home consumption has declined since January, our survey shows Americans miss coffee shops, and many are already comfortable returning. More than half of respondents are already visiting coffee shops or plan to in the next month. Another 16% are likely to visit coffee shops in the next 2 to 4-plus months, and just 1/3 say they won’t be comfortable until the pandemic is over.
Q: Talk about the current coffee culture and how it has evolved in recent years.
A: The pandemic seems to have impacted espresso-based beverages most, likely because they are frequently consumed out of the home, with consumption down 15% from January to September 2020. But pre-pandemic, gourmet coffee consumption increased 25% from 2015-2020, and consumption of espresso-based beverages increased 50% in the same time period, driven by popularity among consumers aged 25-39. Consumers are also drinking coffee during different parts of the day: Those age 25-39 are twice as likely to have coffee at lunch compared with coffee drinkers over 60, while those over 40 are more likely to choose coffee in the evening.