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How to Meet Gen Z's Evolving Coffee Preferences With Fourth Wave Specialty Coffee

How to Meet Gen Z's Evolving Coffee Preferences With Fourth Wave Specialty Coffee

TLDR

If you're a coffee shop owner you need to keep up with the evolving preferences of today's coffee drinkers to attract new customers and build loyalty with your current patrons. Gen Z, in particular, has unique tastes that differ from previous generations. By understanding what drives their coffee choices and incorporating elements of the "Fourth Wave" specialty coffee movement into your offerings, you can position your shop as a preferred destination for younger coffee enthusiasts. In this article, you'll learn proactive steps to take - from revamping your menu to enabling coffee subscriptions - to fully meet the needs of this influential consumer group and make your shop a go-to coffee source for years to come.

Understanding Gen Z's Passion for Premium Specialty Coffee

Gen Z consumers, those born between 1997 to 2012, are developing a passion for high-quality, specialty coffee. According to research by the National Coffee Association (NCA), Gen Zers are more than twice as likely to consume “gourmet” coffee compared to older generations. For Gen Z, gourmet coffee means premium, non-instant arabica or arabica blend coffee products.

Premium Ingredients and Experiences

Gen Z's willingness to pay more for specialty coffee is indicative of their interest in unique, premium food and beverage experiences. They value high-quality, ethically sourced ingredients and care about the story behind the brands they support. Coffee shops and roasters that emphasize premium, specialty-grade coffee, sustainable and ethical business practices, and an inviting space for social interaction will appeal most to this generation.

On-the-Go Convenience

While Gen Z appreciates premium specialty coffee, their fast-paced lifestyles also demand convenience. Ready-to-drink cold brew coffee, nitro coffee on tap, and grab-and-go snacks are well suited to Gen Z's on-the-go habits. Coffee shops should provide quick and easy ordering through mobile apps and self-service kiosks. Offering coffee bean subscriptions and at-home brewing kits also allows Gen Z to enjoy specialty coffee on their terms.

Esthetic and Share-Worthy

Generation Z has an eye for aesthetics and shares much of their lives on social media. A photogenic, experiential space and visually striking drinks will motivate them to post about your brand across platforms. Some coffee shops have found success by introducing over-the-top, social media-friendly drinks, though quality and flavor should not be sacrificed for appearances alone. When done right, an inviting space and share-worthy drinks can significantly raise brand awareness in today's time. 

What Is Fourth Wave Coffee?

The Rise of Specialty Coffee

The fourth wave of coffee is focused on high-quality, artisanal coffee. Fourth-wave roasters source the finest specialty-grade coffee beans and are devoted to achieving the perfect roast for each bean’s unique flavor profile. They emphasize the origin and specific farm where the beans were grown to highlight the distinctive notes in each batch. For Gen Z, who came of age in a world saturated with choice, curating the perfect cup of pour-over or cold brew and knowing the farmer who grew the beans is appealing.

Cold Brews and Cold Coffee Drinks

Fourth-wave coffee has brought cold brew coffee and espresso-based iced coffee drinks to the mainstream. Over 60% of people prefer cold coffee drinks, seeing them as a customization of their perfect coffee experience. Cold brews and iced coffees also pair well with Gen Z’s fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyles. For coffee shops looking to attract more customers, focusing on high-quality cold coffee options is key.

At-Home Coffee Rituals

While previous generations saw going out for coffee as a social ritual, Gen Z is more likely to create specialty coffee at home. With many still working and studying remotely, the morning coffee has become a personal ritual. Coffee subscriptions that offer a variety of artisanal whole beans or pre-ground coffee to recreate café quality coffee at home appeal to customers' desire for the perfect custom cup. Apps like Per Diem allow coffee shops to offer weekly coffee bean subscriptions, building loyalty with their loyal customers.

Coffee shops that want to meet the evolving tastes of Gen Z should focus on high-quality, artisanal coffee, especially cold brews and iced options. Offering coffee bean subscriptions and emphasizing the origin and specific farm the beans came from will build loyalty with this discerning generation of coffee lovers at home and on the go.

Leveraging the At-home Coffee Culture

Cater to convenience and quality

As 46% of young customers consume coffee daily at home or work, focus on convenient yet high-quality coffee options. Offering whole bean or pre-ground bagged coffee, as well as single-serve pods or capsules, allows them to quickly and easily brew coffee at home. Promoting your brand’s premium coffee origins and roasting expertise will appeal to Gen Z’s taste for gourmet, specialty coffee.

Enable a personalized at-home experience

To replicate the customized coffee shop experience at home, provide resources for them to explore different brewing methods, beans, and roasts. An informative website, how-to videos, and coffee subscription services are effective ways to foster an engaging at-home coffee culture.

Market to digital natives

As digital natives, Gen Z lives their lives online. Focus digital marketing efforts on the social media platforms they frequent, like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Post educational content about your coffees, brewing tips, and coffee recipes. Run social media contests and giveaways to increase engagement. An active social media presence, especially with shareable visual content, is key to connecting with your audience.

While convenience and quality are important, a personalized at-home coffee experience is equally appealing. By providing the resources for them to explore and craft coffee on their terms, coffee shops can leverage the growing at-home coffee culture and build brand loyalty that lasts well into the future. 

Steps to Make Your Coffee Shop Appeal to Gen Z Coffee Drinkers

Focus on the Experience

Rather than just selling coffee, curate an engaging experience for customers. Play upbeat music that appeals to younger audiences and provide comfortable seating arrangements conducive to social interaction or work. You might also organize events like open mics, game nights, or movie screenings. The experience around the coffee is just as important as the product itself.

Enable Customization

Customers value individuality and self-expression. Allowing customization of drinks is key to appealing to this demographic. Offer a variety of syrups, spices, milk alternatives, and toppings both in-store and online so your customers can create a unique beverage tailored to their tastes. Promote customization options on your menu boards and train baristas to guide customers through the customization process.

Offer Subscriptions and Loyalty Programs

Today people value convenience and rewards. Offering coffee subscriptions and loyalty programs is an easy way to provide both. A subscription allows customers to receive fresh coffee beans or grounds regularly. A loyalty program gives them incentives to return to your shop through rewards like free drinks, discounts, and exclusive perks. Subscriptions and loyalty programs build a sense of community and turn casual customers into lifelong guests.

Experience the Per Diem app to provide your customers with the convenience and rewards they deserve right on their mobile phones.

By implementing these best practices, coffee shops can leverage coffee subscriptions and white-label mobile apps to meet Gen Z’s evolving tastes, increase loyalty, and drive revenue. The convenience and customization will resonate with younger consumers seeking premium yet accessible coffee experiences.

Final Thoughts

As shifting preferences shape the future of your coffee business, you have an opportunity to attract a new generation of loyal customers. Consider offering high-quality specialty coffee drinks made with premium beans to appeal to their taste for "gourmet" options. Introduce innovative preparation methods and unique flavor profiles to capture their adventurous palates. Don't forget convenience - create an exceptional mobile ordering experience and leverage coffee subscriptions through white-label apps like Per Diem. Meeting Gen Z's needs starts with understanding their values. Make your shop an inclusive gathering place tailored to their on-the-go lifestyles. If you focus on exceeding their expectations, Gen Z can become devoted brand advocates who fuel your success.

To begin offering coffee subscriptions for your coffee business, check out our easy-to-follow guide here.

How to Meet Gen Z's Evolving Coffee Preferences With Fourth Wave Specialty Coffee

How to Meet Gen Z's Evolving Coffee Preferences With Fourth Wave Specialty Coffee
by
Soma Amir
by
Doron Segal
by
Tomer Molovinsky
by
Olivia Terenzio
by
Jessica Buckley
by
Ashley Rodriguez
October 10, 2022

TLDR

If you're a coffee shop owner you need to keep up with the evolving preferences of today's coffee drinkers to attract new customers and build loyalty with your current patrons. Gen Z, in particular, has unique tastes that differ from previous generations. By understanding what drives their coffee choices and incorporating elements of the "Fourth Wave" specialty coffee movement into your offerings, you can position your shop as a preferred destination for younger coffee enthusiasts. In this article, you'll learn proactive steps to take - from revamping your menu to enabling coffee subscriptions - to fully meet the needs of this influential consumer group and make your shop a go-to coffee source for years to come.

Understanding Gen Z's Passion for Premium Specialty Coffee

Gen Z consumers, those born between 1997 to 2012, are developing a passion for high-quality, specialty coffee. According to research by the National Coffee Association (NCA), Gen Zers are more than twice as likely to consume “gourmet” coffee compared to older generations. For Gen Z, gourmet coffee means premium, non-instant arabica or arabica blend coffee products.

Premium Ingredients and Experiences

Gen Z's willingness to pay more for specialty coffee is indicative of their interest in unique, premium food and beverage experiences. They value high-quality, ethically sourced ingredients and care about the story behind the brands they support. Coffee shops and roasters that emphasize premium, specialty-grade coffee, sustainable and ethical business practices, and an inviting space for social interaction will appeal most to this generation.

On-the-Go Convenience

While Gen Z appreciates premium specialty coffee, their fast-paced lifestyles also demand convenience. Ready-to-drink cold brew coffee, nitro coffee on tap, and grab-and-go snacks are well suited to Gen Z's on-the-go habits. Coffee shops should provide quick and easy ordering through mobile apps and self-service kiosks. Offering coffee bean subscriptions and at-home brewing kits also allows Gen Z to enjoy specialty coffee on their terms.

Esthetic and Share-Worthy

Generation Z has an eye for aesthetics and shares much of their lives on social media. A photogenic, experiential space and visually striking drinks will motivate them to post about your brand across platforms. Some coffee shops have found success by introducing over-the-top, social media-friendly drinks, though quality and flavor should not be sacrificed for appearances alone. When done right, an inviting space and share-worthy drinks can significantly raise brand awareness in today's time. 

What Is Fourth Wave Coffee?

The Rise of Specialty Coffee

The fourth wave of coffee is focused on high-quality, artisanal coffee. Fourth-wave roasters source the finest specialty-grade coffee beans and are devoted to achieving the perfect roast for each bean’s unique flavor profile. They emphasize the origin and specific farm where the beans were grown to highlight the distinctive notes in each batch. For Gen Z, who came of age in a world saturated with choice, curating the perfect cup of pour-over or cold brew and knowing the farmer who grew the beans is appealing.

Cold Brews and Cold Coffee Drinks

Fourth-wave coffee has brought cold brew coffee and espresso-based iced coffee drinks to the mainstream. Over 60% of people prefer cold coffee drinks, seeing them as a customization of their perfect coffee experience. Cold brews and iced coffees also pair well with Gen Z’s fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyles. For coffee shops looking to attract more customers, focusing on high-quality cold coffee options is key.

At-Home Coffee Rituals

While previous generations saw going out for coffee as a social ritual, Gen Z is more likely to create specialty coffee at home. With many still working and studying remotely, the morning coffee has become a personal ritual. Coffee subscriptions that offer a variety of artisanal whole beans or pre-ground coffee to recreate café quality coffee at home appeal to customers' desire for the perfect custom cup. Apps like Per Diem allow coffee shops to offer weekly coffee bean subscriptions, building loyalty with their loyal customers.

Coffee shops that want to meet the evolving tastes of Gen Z should focus on high-quality, artisanal coffee, especially cold brews and iced options. Offering coffee bean subscriptions and emphasizing the origin and specific farm the beans came from will build loyalty with this discerning generation of coffee lovers at home and on the go.

Leveraging the At-home Coffee Culture

Cater to convenience and quality

As 46% of young customers consume coffee daily at home or work, focus on convenient yet high-quality coffee options. Offering whole bean or pre-ground bagged coffee, as well as single-serve pods or capsules, allows them to quickly and easily brew coffee at home. Promoting your brand’s premium coffee origins and roasting expertise will appeal to Gen Z’s taste for gourmet, specialty coffee.

Enable a personalized at-home experience

To replicate the customized coffee shop experience at home, provide resources for them to explore different brewing methods, beans, and roasts. An informative website, how-to videos, and coffee subscription services are effective ways to foster an engaging at-home coffee culture.

Market to digital natives

As digital natives, Gen Z lives their lives online. Focus digital marketing efforts on the social media platforms they frequent, like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Post educational content about your coffees, brewing tips, and coffee recipes. Run social media contests and giveaways to increase engagement. An active social media presence, especially with shareable visual content, is key to connecting with your audience.

While convenience and quality are important, a personalized at-home coffee experience is equally appealing. By providing the resources for them to explore and craft coffee on their terms, coffee shops can leverage the growing at-home coffee culture and build brand loyalty that lasts well into the future. 

Steps to Make Your Coffee Shop Appeal to Gen Z Coffee Drinkers

Focus on the Experience

Rather than just selling coffee, curate an engaging experience for customers. Play upbeat music that appeals to younger audiences and provide comfortable seating arrangements conducive to social interaction or work. You might also organize events like open mics, game nights, or movie screenings. The experience around the coffee is just as important as the product itself.

Enable Customization

Customers value individuality and self-expression. Allowing customization of drinks is key to appealing to this demographic. Offer a variety of syrups, spices, milk alternatives, and toppings both in-store and online so your customers can create a unique beverage tailored to their tastes. Promote customization options on your menu boards and train baristas to guide customers through the customization process.

Offer Subscriptions and Loyalty Programs

Today people value convenience and rewards. Offering coffee subscriptions and loyalty programs is an easy way to provide both. A subscription allows customers to receive fresh coffee beans or grounds regularly. A loyalty program gives them incentives to return to your shop through rewards like free drinks, discounts, and exclusive perks. Subscriptions and loyalty programs build a sense of community and turn casual customers into lifelong guests.

Experience the Per Diem app to provide your customers with the convenience and rewards they deserve right on their mobile phones.

By implementing these best practices, coffee shops can leverage coffee subscriptions and white-label mobile apps to meet Gen Z’s evolving tastes, increase loyalty, and drive revenue. The convenience and customization will resonate with younger consumers seeking premium yet accessible coffee experiences.

Final Thoughts

As shifting preferences shape the future of your coffee business, you have an opportunity to attract a new generation of loyal customers. Consider offering high-quality specialty coffee drinks made with premium beans to appeal to their taste for "gourmet" options. Introduce innovative preparation methods and unique flavor profiles to capture their adventurous palates. Don't forget convenience - create an exceptional mobile ordering experience and leverage coffee subscriptions through white-label apps like Per Diem. Meeting Gen Z's needs starts with understanding their values. Make your shop an inclusive gathering place tailored to their on-the-go lifestyles. If you focus on exceeding their expectations, Gen Z can become devoted brand advocates who fuel your success.

To begin offering coffee subscriptions for your coffee business, check out our easy-to-follow guide here.

Soma Amir

About the author

Doron Segal

About the author

Hey I'm Doron, the co-founder & CTO of Per Diem — a mobile app platform for restaurants. I'm also a dad and a husband. I love to travel and meet new people.I love creating things, and see people using the stuff I built.Prior to Per Diem I worked at Saildrone, OpenTable, Apple, Beats Music, Siemens.

Tomer Molovinsky

About the author

A second time founder with a passion for building products at the intersection of hospitality and technology. I've had the pleasure of launching reservation systems, mobile payment solutions, and loyalty programs at OpenTable and Resy, and witnessed how operators were losing a direct connection with their customers online. We built Per Diem to strengthen the relationships that businesses have with those customers, and to ensure that local businesses can thrive in today's economy.

Olivia Terenzio

About the author

Jessica Buckley

About the author

Ashley Rodriguez

About the author

Ashley is a freelance writer and podcast producer based in Madison, Wisconsin. She hosts a podcast called Boss Barista and writes an accompanying newsletter with full transcripts of each episode and articles about coffee and restaurant work. You can check out her work here (ashleyrodriguez.work/).

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