What millennials are drinking

coffee millennial

When it comes to trying to define the millennial generation, it’s hard to make generalizations. There is one thing, however, that can be said about them with some certainty: They love specialty coffee beverages. And that’s not just opinion; the statistics bear it out.

Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report found that while 23 percent of the overall population had ordered a hot specialty coffee drink in the past month, among millennials, that number rose to 30 percent. What’s more, they’re willing to pay for these specialty drinks—when asked what they consider a reasonable price for specialty coffee beverages, millennials averaged $3.10 – a full 40 cents higher than the overall population.

Because they grew up in a world where these beverages were readily available, millennials have a familiarity with specialty coffee beverages, unlike previous generations. Ric Rhinehart, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, says that millennials consider themselves “coffee experts.” In the same way that wine fans discuss the vineyards where grapes are grown, this group is knowledgeable about the areas where their coffee comes from.

“This means the bar is set high for anyone delivering beverages to this audience,” says Karalynn McDermott, senior vice president for market development, Bunn-O-Matic Corporation. What’s more, this generation expects premiumization and customization of their beverages. “They love different milk types. They want nondairy choices,” says McDermott. “They don’t want to be told that you make it just one way.”

No longer an occasional treat, specialty coffee beverages also are now expected across all dayparts, particularly by millennials. One trend McDermott has noted recently among this group is the acceptance of cold-coffee beverages early in the day. “They love a cold cappuccino or cold latte in the morning,” she says.

Another up-and-coming trend in specialty beverage service comes from the retail side: espresso tonic. “You get an espresso shot and it’s accompanied with sparkling water,” McDermott says. The water can be used as either a palate cleanser, or consumed before the espresso.

All this means increased opportunities for operators to merchandise profitable, specialty coffee beverages to millennials. McDermott says that millennials are open to getting these beverages in nontraditional ways. “We’ve seen some restaurants have their coffee and espresso for the meal service, but then also put it toward the front of the restaurant so it also becomes a grab and go center,” she says.

Today, operators are turning to BUNN® Sure Tamp® Superautomatic coffee machines to satisfy their customers. They deliver exceptional and consistent espresso shot quality via precise tamping pressure, which allows for the optimum movement of water throughout the process. The Sure Tamp’s IntelliSteam® wand has three different temperature settings for the barista to use for preparation with different milk types, including soy and nondairy.

For operators that do not have a barista but have automatic milk steaming, its ability to create a cold froth is essential in creating cold lattes or cold cappuccinos. Picture Prompted Cleaning™ on the Sure Tamp displays photographs to guide the barista through the proper cleaning steps. And the unique BUNNlink® remote equipment system uses cloud-based service support to diagnose any potential machine issues.

Find out how to serve delicious specialty coffee drinks to millennials and all your other customers by going to

This post is sponsored by BUNN


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