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2024 Coffee Trends

2024 Coffee Trends Forecast

Another year has come and gone, revenue in the coffee market rose to $88.3 billion in 2023, with only signs of growth ahead. It’s a good time to be a café owner, roaster, operator, or barista; from unionizing at Starbucks to the emerging specialty Robusta market in Vietnam, there’s so much happening in the world of coffee. We’ve curated some trends that we think are helpful for you to read, hoping to keep you up to date with your industry.

5th Wave Coffee

5th wave coffee is defined by ambition and experience. Café owners are increasingly ambitious to provide an excellent cup of coffee and provide their customers with an experience they can only find at their coffee shop. “What does your coffee shop say about you?” Increasingly, coffee shops are as much about brand awareness as they are coffee quality.

The heavy stone of the Starbucks union keeps rolling down the hill. Over 360 stores have joined the workers movement, with more added every month. The second planned Red Cup Rebellion took place on Starbucks' busiest sales day, November 16th. The protest event called for all Starbucks employees to demand a fair wage from the global chain.

Arabica and Robusta are the two most common coffee varieties in the world. Most specialty grade coffee is Arabica because Arabica is milder and contains less caffeine. Robusta is commonly more bitter and contains almost double the caffeine. The high caffeine content makes it resistant to pests and disease and it therefore grows at a higher volume, making it a commodity product instead of a specialty product. Nguyen Coffee Supply, Viet Five, and Portland Cà Phê Roasters are trying to change that and have experienced some mild success. Expect the popularity of Robusta to increase over the next few years as coffee demands increase and innovation transforms.

Iced Coffee

Cold coffee is coming up tops! Cold brew, iced coffee, batched lattes, frappes, and more. Cold drinks now represent 75% of Starbucks drink sales. This includes beverages like refreshers and tea, but seasonality does not seem to affect drink sales like it used to. Younger generations are at the forefront of this trend, with 79% of under 35's reportedly purchase at least one iced beverage each week. Given these trends, it will be important in 2024 to prioritize cold beverages in your shop.

Specialty Coffee Forecast

It is projected that by the end of 2024, US branded coffee shop market sales will exceed $52.4 billion and reach $61.6 billion by 2028. Specialty coffee is dominated by buyers 18-24. Consistent products are available from chains like Starbucks, Dunkin, Panera etc. Specialty coffee drinkers are looking for unique flavors and have a higher awareness for quality. This generation of coffee drinkers expect more from both local shops and larger chains.

Automation

Innovation in the coffee industry has come in many forms, one of them is automation. Eversys coffee machines expertly makes complete coffee drinks with the push of a button, seemingly aiming to replace the need for a skilled barista but freeing up the barista to focus on customer service, which might be the exact thing your shop needs.

Bellwether is a California based company creating automated digital roasting machines. These machines are designed to be stationed in your coffee shop, easily accessible to managers or baristas for roasting green beans for use later in the week. Bellwether makes freshly roasted unique blends of coffee available to you and your shop. There have been reports of major problems with the Bellwether Series 1 breaking down and failing to operate properly; yet Series 2 Bellwether seems to have fixed this problem. The machines are expensive, but over time they might pay for themselves.

In October 2023 La Marzocco and Mahlkonig released the new Sync System. The two industry giants have teamed up to hopefully push espresso machine technology into the future. The Sync System lets the coffee grinder and the espresso machine “speak to” each other in real time, changing the grind, and dialing in each shot individually. No more wasted coffee, no more analyzing every shot to the perfect weight and time, the machines do it all automatically. While some of the artisanal craft is lost, it frees up baristas and café workers to focus more on customer service. Plus, shops with multiple locations can hone in on the specific taste they want and always produce that taste across the multiple locations.

Signature Drinks

It is increasingly important to set yourself apart from your competitors. Signature drinks are a great way to do that. A branded beverage that customers will associate with your shop.

Caffe by Mr. Espresso is a coffee shop in Oakland, California, run by Luigi Di Ruocco. They have two drinks on their menu that catch the eye. The sugo and the shakerato. The name sugo is Italian for juice. The 5oz drink is something in between an espresso and drip coffee; brewed at a 1:5 ratio. That’s a strong cup of coffee! The shakerato is a shot of espresso shaken with sugar and ice. It gets thick and frothy and looks awesome in a champagne flute. Caffe makes theirs with hazelnut praline paste and heavy cream. These drinks are very innovative and the names are nice and fancy, too!

A slightly more casual example is The Jeanie Cappuccino. SOLA Coffee, an institution in Raleigh, has served The Jeanie Cappuccino since they’ve opened. Named after the owner’s late wife, a Jeanie Cappuccino is just a cappuccino with honey in it. Nothing fancy, no advanced techniques, just honey, and that works! Adding a name to a simple drink that links some aspect of your brand to the business can bring in a surprising amount of sales.

To Wrap It All Up

This industry that we love is always changing. That’s what makes it so exciting to be a part of it! There are always new things to learn, fresh techniques being developed, and exotic tastes to delight customers. Our goal here at Dilworth is to keep you informed and help grow your business with great expertise and delicious coffee. 

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