How Millennials Are Shaping America's Coffee Culture

Millennials get a lot of labels, but one that doesn’t often make the headlines is “coffee influencer.” There are 75 million members of this generation, and according to the National Coffee Association, more than 60% of them drink coffee on a daily basis. For those counting, that’s 45 million cups of coffee every day at MINIMUM, assuming only one drink per person, just for this generation alone. It’s easy to see why this population is so influential in America’s changing coffee culture.

Like any industry, the higher the demand, the more competitive it becomes and the more important the quality of the product becomes. Hip craft coffee shops are popping up on what seems like every Main Street corner across America, and they’re often focused on espresso and milk-based specialty coffee drinks.

Europe and Australia are decades ahead of the U.S. in terms of the demand for specialty coffee drinks, but the U.S. is starting to play catch up. 20 years ago, less than 10% of U.S. adults were drinking specialty coffee on a daily basis. By 2017, that number had quadrupled to 41% and nearly 60% of all coffee consumed was specialty coffee.

It’s no coincidence that American coffee culture has begun this shift in lockstep with the rise of Millennials in the workforce. As the largest generation assumes the role of income generating adults, they need to stay caffeinated to get them through their work day. As of today, 35% of the American workforce is made up of the Millennial generation, already the largest generational share of labor force participants. That number is expected to rise to more than 50% over the next several years.

Yet with the majority of the workforce comprised of coffee drinkers that actually prefer espresso drinks over regular coffee, there is a major disconnect between the workplace demand and the workplace offering. Specialty coffee shops are popping up all over the U.S. to satisfy demand, and somehow offices are still flooded with drip coffee and pod system coffee machines like Keurig.

It makes sense when you consider that the vast majority of companies cannot afford to build a cafe within their office and hire a barista to make drinks all day, and the high quality automatic espresso machines are expensive to purchase and hard to maintain.

One company (Xpresso Delight) is offering a solution to this problem by offering a high quality espresso machine to offices at no upfront cost. Xpresso Delight franchisees install premium specialty coffee machines in offices around the country and then simply charge the company on a pay-per-cup basis. The Millennial workforce gets access to the coffee drinks they demand, and the company can actually afford to provide it.  

Companies now have the opportunity to provide quality coffee drinks that their employees love, which keeps them in the office rather than spending company time traveling, waiting in line, and returning from the local coffee shop. Millennials love it not only for the quality, but also because it is eco-friendly, using fresh whole coffee beans rather than plastic pods that cause harm to the environment.

It’s a perfect match: happier employees stay with their companies longer. Millennials are shaping America’s coffee culture, and the office environment as a by-product.