The Facts on Java Maturity

S&D white paper reveals coffee preferences of millennials

Millennials Coffee (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores)

CONCORD, N.C. -- Forty-seven percent of millennials drink more regular hot brewed coffee today than they did when they first started drinking coffee (versus 37% who say they are drinking more coffee drinks today), suggesting that young coffee drinkers have tended to "mature" over time, gravitating from sweeter drinks to brewed coffee as they age, according to coffee roaster S&D Coffee & Tea's new white paper, "Appealing to Young Coffee Drinkers Along Their Maturity Path."

And 87% of the sample started drinking coffee (of any kind) by age 21.

Regular, brewed hot black coffee tops helps most millennials start their day, compared to hot specialty coffee, iced coffee and frozen and blended coffee, said the study. Frozen and blended coffee topped the lists for refreshment and as a snack or dessert.

Partnering with Datassentials, a Chicago-based foodservice research firm, S&D set out to gain insight into millennial tastes, preferences and purchasing decisions relative to their coffee consumption. Dividing the responses into young millennials (18 to 24), older millennials (25to 34) and gen-xers (35 to 44) who purchase coffee outside their home at least once a month, S&D conducted a quantitative survey of 1,388 respondents.

"The findings revealed distinct differences between the millennial subgroups, offering insight into their coffee-drinking maturity path as well as their current buying decisions," said S&D vice president of marketing John Buckner. "The magnitude of this generation is such that we know their attitude toward coffee will significantly impact our customers' growth for years to come; we're excited about being able to better understand their preferences and perceptions and how those evolve over time."

The study provides insight into how young coffee drinkers first start consuming coffee and how their preferences change over time. Young millennials favor sweeter, specialty coffee drinks early on, but eventually graduate to traditional hot brewed coffee over time. The survey also reveals that young and older millennials' tastes mature at differing rates relative to when they first start drinking coffee.

S&D presented the paper at last week's Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Symposium & Exposition in Seattle.

"Appealing to Young Coffee Drinkers Along Their Maturity Path" can be downloaded here.

S&D Coffee & Tea is the nation's largest custom roaster and the largest blender of iced tea for the foodservice industry. In continuous operation since 1927, the company serves over 90,000 customers through national distribution and direct store delivery. S&D has been distinguished for supplier excellence by many of the largest retailers and consumers of coffee and iced tea, including McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts and the U.S. Military. In 2009, S&D added a state-of-the-art Liquid Extracts Division which extracts the flavors of coffee, tea and botanicals for use in iced coffee, shakes, iced cream and frozen desserts, energy drinks and other packaged and dispensed products.