Coffee across the generations, truth or stereotyping

Recently I heard an individual in the coffee shop line say that they didn’t think the Boomer cared like a Gen Z about quality tasting coffee. I needed to dig into the line of thinking and where it may have come from. OK, the “facts” as found across a few differently opinionated sources that I took the time to read through so you don’t have to. Of course, the usual disclaimers on things like this, you may see yourself or think the info is way off base, it is just an interesting thing to think about when having your morning coffee.

Gen Z:

  • Influential Market Presence: Gen Z’s significant spending power, especially in the U.S., makes them influential in shaping consumer trends. Their increasing numbers have started to impact the coffee market significantly, as seen in the inclusion of their preferences in the National Coffee Drinking Trends report by the National Coffee Association (NCA)​​.
  • Preference for Gourmet Coffee: Gen Z has a pronounced preference for “gourmet” coffee drinks, defined as premium, non-instant arabica or arabica blend coffee products. This generation is more than twice as likely to consume gourmet coffee compared to older age groups, indicating a shift towards higher quality coffee​​.
  • Convenience and Fast-Paced Lifestyle: The fast-paced lifestyle of Gen Z has shaped their coffee drinking habits. They favor ready-to-drink (RTD) and cold brew coffee, which align with their preference for simplicity and convenience. These choices reflect their adaptation to a world of instant gratification, where online shopping and home delivery are the norms​​.
  • Healthier Options and Perceptions: Gen Z often perceives RTD and iced coffees as healthier alternatives to carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks, while still providing a caffeine boost. This perception is in line with their overall health-conscious approach to food and beverage consumption​​.
  • Focus on Transparency and Traceability: Gen Z values transparency and traceability in the coffee supply chain. They are keen on knowing where their coffee is grown, who grew it, and ensuring the process is ethical and sustainable. This generation seeks out brands that support their values, paying more attention to how brands align with their ethical and environmental concerns​​.

These preferences and behaviors of Gen Z reflect a broader shift in the coffee sector towards quality, convenience, health consciousness, and ethical considerations. Their choices are redefining coffee consumption trends, influencing the products and services offered by coffee brands and retailers.


  • Increased Coffee Consumption: Millennials have shown a significant increase in daily coffee consumption, with 51% of 18 to 24-year-olds drinking coffee daily by 2014, up from 25% in 2000. The average number of cups consumed daily also increased from 2.3 to 3.3 in this period. Millennials, being the largest generational group in the United States, exert considerable influence on the coffee industry and its trends​​.
  • Technology and Social Media Influence: Technology, especially smartphone applications, plays a substantial role in how Millennials interact with coffee. They frequently use these apps to order coffee and rely on social media to review products and seek advice from friends. This behavior reflects their interconnected, tech-savvy lifestyle and influences their coffee-related decisions​​.
  • Trend Toward Cold Brew and RTD Coffee: Millennials have significantly driven the popularity of non-espresso-based beverages, like cold brew and RTD coffee. The sales of cold brew coffee saw an increase of nearly 600% from 2011 to 2016. RTD coffee also experienced remarkable growth, with more than two-thirds of 18 to 34-year-olds in the US consuming single-serve RTD coffee beverages. This preference is attributed to the convenience and speed of RTD beverage consumption, aligning with Millennials’ fast-paced lifestyles​​.
  • Preference for Specialty Coffee: Millennials are leading the third wave coffee movement, with a significant portion regularly consuming specialty coffee. They show a growing taste for gourmet varieties, including single-origin coffee, known for its unique flavors and high level of supply chain transparency. Millennials seek detailed information about their coffee, from origin to roast profile, driving coffee roasters to provide more information on packaging labels and tasting cards​​.
  • Commitment to Sustainability: Millennials demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in their coffee choices. A significant majority understand the concept of sustainable coffee and are willing to pay more for sustainably sourced and produced coffee. They also prefer to purchase from companies that support environmental and ethical causes. This preference has influenced coffee roasters to focus on sustainable certifications and environmentally friendly packaging materials to appeal to the Millennial market​​.

These insights reveal a multifaceted approach to coffee consumption among Millennials, emphasizing quality, convenience, technological integration, and a strong commitment to sustainability and ethical practices.

Baby Boomers:

  • Early Coffee Experiences: Iconic brands like Tim Hortons played a significant role in shaping the coffee habits of Baby Boomers. Visits to such coffee shops were more than just about coffee; they were social experiences, a place for community, friendship, and storytelling​​.
  • Coffee Shops as Social Hubs: In their younger years, Baby Boomers frequented coffee shops that served gourmet coffee. These establishments were more than just places to drink coffee; they were hubs for intellectual discussions, artistic exchanges, and political debates, fostering a strong sense of community​​.
  • Instant Coffee and Convenience: During the 1970s and 1980s, as Baby Boomers became working professionals and parents, instant coffee gained popularity for its convenience. The need for quick and easy coffee solutions was paramount in the daily hustle and bustle of their lives​​.
  • Shift to Health and Wellness: As they aged, Baby Boomers’ concern for health and wellness grew, leading to an increased focus on organic and specialty coffees. They transitioned from mass-produced coffees to more ethically sourced and environmentally friendly options, driven by a growing consciousness of sustainability and fair trade practices​​.
  • Embracing Artisanal Coffee: The emergence of specialty coffee shops marked a new era in coffee consumption for Baby Boomers. They started seeking unique flavors and handcrafted beverages, exploring diverse coffee bean origins and roasting techniques, appreciating the art of coffee-making​​.
  • Digital Transformation in Coffee Consumption: The advent of the internet and digital technology transformed their coffee-drinking habits. Online subscriptions and e-commerce platforms enabled them to discover global coffee blends from the comfort of their homes​​.
  • Coffee in Retirement: As Baby Boomers approached retirement, their coffee habits shifted. Coffee became a vital part of their morning routines and a medium for continued social interaction. Retirement provided more time to explore new coffee recipes and experiment with brewing methods, such as pour-over, French press, and espresso machines. Coffee gatherings remained a centerpiece for social interactions​​.

These trends reflect Baby Boomers’ evolving relationship with coffee, characterized by a balance of traditional preferences, health consciousness, and an openness to new experiences and technologies in their coffee consumption.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going. If you enjoy my work, perhaps you would consider donating to my daily cup of coffee, thank you.


Cuban Coffee: A Vibrant Brew Steeped in Rich Traditions

Cuban coffee, colloquially referred to as “Café Cubano” or “Cuban espresso,” is a unique variant of espresso that found its origins in the sun-drenched Caribbean island of Cuba, where Italian espresso machines first made their appearance. This happened after the introduction of the coffee plant to Cuba by the Spanish in the mid-18th century, which quickly flourished in the island’s tropical climate and fertile soil. The Cuban take on espresso evolved from the traditional Italian method of brewing to become a coffee experience all its own, steeped in the rich cultural heritage and vibrant social rituals of the Cuban people.

The distinctiveness of Cuban coffee lies not only in its preparation method but also in the cultural context of its consumption. It is not merely a beverage, but a symbol of hospitality and camaraderie, a centerpiece of social interactions and a daily ritual that punctuates the rhythm of life in Cuba. It is renowned for its strong, bold flavors, which are a reflection of the Cuban spirit itself – resilient, robust, and full of life.

Cuban coffee is characterized by several distinctive features that set it apart from other espresso varieties. The coffee is usually made using dark-roasted beans, lending it a deep, intense flavor profile that is simultaneously rich and smooth. It is sweetened with ‘espuma’ or ‘crema’—a unique frothy concoction of sugar and a splash of espresso—which forms a sweet, caramelized layer on the top of the coffee, creating a delightful contrast with the strong, bitter undertones of the espresso. This process of adding sugar directly to the espresso as it brews, known as ‘endulzar,’ results in a harmonious fusion of flavors that is quintessentially Cuban.

Further, unlike the large mugs of coffee commonly consumed in other parts of the world, Cuban coffee is traditionally served in small, espresso-sized quantities, reflecting the potent concentration of its flavors. These tiny cups of coffee, or ‘tacitas,’ are often shared among friends and family, fostering a sense of togetherness and community.

In essence, Cuban coffee is more than just a caffeinated beverage; it is an integral part of Cuban culture and identity. From the precise brewing process to the communal act of sharing, every aspect of Cuban coffee is steeped in tradition, making it a unique and cherished experience.

Strong and Sweet: Cuban coffee is known for being very strong and sweet. It’s made by brewing espresso and then adding “espuma” or “crema”—a frothy mixture of sugar and a small amount of espresso—to the drink. This creates a sweet layer on top that contrasts with the strong coffee below.

Served in Small Amounts: Because it’s so strong, Cuban coffee is typically served in small, espresso-sized quantities. It’s common to serve it in a “tacita” (small cup) and share it with others.

Cultural Ritual: Drinking Cuban coffee is often a social and cultural ritual. It’s common for Cubans to drink it throughout the day, especially in the morning and after meals, and it’s often shared with family and friends.

You can absolutely make Cuban coffee at home, and it’s quite simple! Here’s a basic recipe:



  1. Brew half a cup of espresso coffee.
  2. Meanwhile, place the sugar in a pot or carafe.
  3. Once the coffee has brewed, take a small amount (about a teaspoon) and mix it with the sugar. Stir vigorously until you create a paste-like mixture—this is your “espuma” or “crema.”
  4. Pour the rest of the brewed coffee into the pot with the sugar and espresso paste, stirring as you pour.
  5. Serve the coffee in small espresso cups.

Cuban coffee is quite strong and sweet, so feel free to adjust the amount of sugar or coffee to taste. Also, note that you’ll need an espresso maker or a stovetop moka pot to brew the coffee.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.


How to Fine-Tune an Espresso Machine for the Best Results

I thought you might be interested in some notes I put together about getting the most out of your espresso machine. First, a few things to consider, then I did an outline of the process to fine tune/test/tune each part of the espresso making process.

Learning and tuning the process of using an espresso machine is incredibly important for several reasons:

  1. Quality of Espresso: Espresso is a complex beverage, and the quality of the final product is a direct result of multiple variables working in concert. Understanding your machine and learning to fine-tune its settings will allow you to extract the best possible flavor from your coffee beans.
  2. Consistency: Once you’ve found the perfect extraction settings for a particular type of coffee bean, knowing how to reproduce those settings will ensure you can create the same high-quality espresso shot every time. A well-tuned espresso machine is the key to consistency.
  3. Understanding of Coffee: Learning to use and tune an espresso machine will deepen your understanding of coffee in general. You’ll gain insight into how the origin, roast level, and grind size of coffee beans affect the flavor of the espresso. This understanding can enhance your appreciation of the coffee you drink.
  4. Efficiency: A well-tuned espresso machine will operate more efficiently, saving time during the brewing process. It can also prevent wasted coffee from shots that aren’t up to standard.
  5. Maintenance and Longevity of Your Machine: Regularly tuning and maintaining your espresso machine will ensure it operates at its best for as long as possible. Neglecting this can lead to poor performance and potentially costly repairs or replacements.
  6. Personal Satisfaction: There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from mastering a skill, and making a perfect shot of espresso is no exception. The process of learning, experimenting, and fine-tuning your espresso machine can be a rewarding experience, adding another layer of enjoyment to your coffee routine.
  7. Creativity and Experimentation: Understanding the workings of your machine and how to fine-tune it opens up a world of creativity and experimentation. You can start to play with different beans, grinds, and extraction times to create your own unique flavors.

Learning to use and fine-tune an espresso machine isn’t just about making a good cup of coffee—it’s about understanding and appreciating the process behind it. It’s an investment in time and effort that yields delicious results and a deeper connection to the art and science of coffee making.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.