Few things in the food and drink industry have seen the kind of growth that coffee has over recent years. A growth that has even seen coffee shortages across the globe.
Yet, what is driving this uptake in demand for coffee? In this article, we're going to look at some of the reasons everybody's favorite morning drink is suddenly so popular that we might soon not have enough to go around.
Before we get into who's drinking all the coffee, it's worth giving a brief nod to the other end of the system. That is, who's growing the coffee. The popularity of the drink has spread like wildfire, including through regions of the world that previously weren't big on coffee.
Still, not all of those regions are climactically capable of growing their own. It's only natural, then, that increased demand for coffee without an increased capacity to produce said coffee will lead to shortages.
So we know coffee is in higher demand than ever before, but why is that? And why is the market reaching a point where it may outstrip our ability to produce? Let's take a look.
Is it a Generational Thing?
While coffee has popularity almost across the board in terms of age, it is particularly popular among people in their twenties and thirties. In other words; Millennials. Millennials are consuming coffee at historical rates, not only in traditional forms (that is, hot, in a mug) but also in cold beverages and coffee-based snacks.
According to Bloomberg research, this demographic is responsible for the consumption of almost half (44%) of the world's coffee! Meanwhile, coffee-use among older demographics is dropping, making the impact of Millennial coffee consumption even more pronounced.
Why is Coffee in Demand for Millennials in Particular?
To truly understand why this demographic is so enamored with coffee, it helps to understand the premise of a "gateway drug"-so named because it is often a milder drug, perhaps something not illegal, or with less of a drastic effect on the user.
Yet this gateway drug can act as a stepping stone-or "gateway"-to the broader world of drug usage. Once you've taken the leap of trying one substance, trying another possibly harder drug doesn't seem nearly as frightening.
Now, while I'm not comparing drinking coffee to taking drugs, the analogy works because there are so many gateways through which a person can enter the world of coffee. Coffee used to come in the form of a steaming hot cup of bitter black liquid, and that was it. If that drink wasn't to your tastes, then coffee wasn't for you.
Simple. The world Millennials have stepped into, however, is a world that is full of variety when it comes to coffee-hot drinks, cold drinks, dessert drinks, snacks, cakes, and more.
Unlike previous generations, there were many ways a Millennial could get their first taste of coffee, and anyone of those ways can open the door to other coffee-based refreshments which, in turn, can lead to more coffee consumption.
In addition to this, the increasing favor coffee has carried with Millennials who, it should be said, are the first Internet-savvy generation, has also created a kind of status around the drink, making coffee trendy and desirable beyond its worth as a mere beverage.
That trendiness, of course, feeds into the demand, making more people want to consume coffee purely because it's fashionable. In other words; all the cool kids are doing it.
Health Benefits in the Information Age
The Internet has provided countless people with access to all the information they could ever need. Whether you consider that a positive is up to you, but there can be little doubt that it has led to an increase in people changing their diets and habits in ways that they believe will benefit them.
Coffee frequently gets linked to beneficial effects on health, such as a purported 6% reduction in the risk of diabetes in people who drink a cup of coffee a day.
Indeed, a quick Internet search reveals a wealth of articles-often list-based-outlining all the health benefits that coffee might bring, although not all of these benefits are backed up with hard science.
Yet regardless, it's likely no coincidence that a generation of tech-savvy Millennials surrounded by articles on how coffee is good for your health might end up being the biggest consumer of that beverage. Or perhaps, if you're more cynical, it is the fact that Millennials drink so much coffee that has led to the articles being written in the first place.
Demand Outstripping Supply
As the global population continues to grow, it's only natural to wonder if the demand for coffee will continue to grow with it. It would seem a logical course. After all, the current generation has even more options than Millennials did when they first entered the consumer market, and they will eventually become the primary consumer demographic.
Yet it may not be as straightforward as that. As mentioned above, the regions in which coffee is in demand are not always regions in which coffee can be grown.
As the need for coffee grows, it could lead to a rise in prices (as predicted by some), and the ever-smaller profit margins for coffee farmers have already been pushing many to abandon coffee altogether, further reducing the amount of coffee getting produced.
The Euro Factor
Looking beyond generational demographics to regional ones, Europe is by far the most prominent single regional consumer of coffee and is also the largest exporter of roasted coffee exports. This makes Europe a significant player in both the manufacture and consumption of coffee, so when asking "why is coffee in demand?", the European market has to be addressed.
The European coffee market is more or less saturated at this stage, with growth slowing almost to zero. Hence, the chances are that this particular market will remain stable for some time, as there are no signs that European interest in coffee is waning.
Of course, the main driving forces behind coffee consumption do not account for all of the coffee demand. Coffee is an inherently popular drink that is only growing more popular as time goes on. Why is coffee in demand? Because we all drink it.