Hot trend grows hotter

With over 400 billion cups of coffee consumed every year, coffee remains one of the world’s most popular drinks. According to the International Coffee Organization, the consumer base is growing on a global scale, particularly in China, India, and Latin America. And java drinking continues to explode in the U.S.

While coffee is booming among all demographics, the trend is most marked by the millennials who are demanding high quality, exotic flavors, and ethical trade practices from the coffee spots they frequent.

Back in 1990, Gerald Celente, publisher of the Trends Journal, first predicted the rise of gourmet coffee at a time when Starbucks had just 35 outlets and when most consumers were satisfied with traditional brands.

Originally from Ethiopia, coffee spread to Yemen and came to Europe from the medieval seaport of Mocha, hence the name. By WW 1, it was the most consumed drink on the planet. Based on current consumer analyses worldwide, the current artisinal coffee trend has steadily picked up more momentum over the past 4 years.


Influencing the rising cuppa joe trend are the hundreds of vetted medical studies in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, which revealed beneficial links between moderate coffee consumption and lower rates of certain diseases, such as cancer and heart issues. People who drink 2-5 cups a day were shown to live longer on average, as compared to those who drink less than 2 cups daily, or no mud at all. How they survive with no coffee was not studied.

In the largest study ever conducted to evaluate the medical effects of coffee, over 500,000 people across 10 European countries were found to have a lower risk of death from general causes, and specifically for circulatory and digestive diseases. These results were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal.

The reason that jitter juice might be beneficial is not totally understood. But the likely core ingredient, caffeine, probably doesn’t tell the whole story, as many studies have found similar health benefits with both regular and decaffeinated coffee.

According to a review in the British Medical Journal, many of the complex compounds in coffee likely provide anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits. The bean has critical antioxidants, which appear to reduce free-radical damage that often leads to cancer.

Additional studies point to the health benefits of coffee as related to two of the fastest rising medical illnesses in the U.S. — diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Researchers from Harvard have shown that drinking either regular or decaf appears to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and a study supported by the National Institute of Aging points to a reduced risk of dementia in subjects who drank moderate amounts daily.

The growing scientific evidence supporting health benefits in coffee has been a growing trend for several years. In 2015, an advisory group commissioned by the Secretaries of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture published a report stating that 3-5 cups of joe a day can be part of a healthy diet.

In June 2016, the World Health Organization removed coffee from the list of potentially carcinogenic foods. WHO went even further, stating that it potentially protects against certain cancers.

This increasing evidence of coffee’s benefits is ironic, given that just a few months ago a Los Angeles judge sent shock waves through the industry by ruling that companies like Starbucks must warn customers of a potentially harmful chemical, acrylamide, which can also be found in cigarette smoke.

The judge ruled that the coffee industry had not presented enough evidence that coffee was safe. And a nonprofit group, the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, sued over 90 companies for failing to warn consumers on labels about the possible harm acrylamide can cause.

The pro-java backlash was swift. John Ioannidis, Chairman of Disease Prevention and professor of medicine, health research, and policy at Stanford University stated in an interview that the judge’s decision was a clear overreaction. Professor Ionnidis stated that he’s “not the least concerned about coffee being a problem for causing cancer.”

And according to the American Cancer Society, while the chemical acrylamide has been shown to increase risk of some types of cancer in rats and mice when exposed to very high doses, no such link has been confirmed in humans.

The research data clearly points to the significant benefits, and minor risks, of coffee. The study in the British Medical Journal was an “umbrella” study (also called a meta study), combining the outcomes of dozens of individual studies to arrive at an overall conclusion: Consumption of 2-4 cups of coffee a day showed positive results in reducing risk for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, liver and gastrointestinal disease, as well as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.


Millennials and Generation Z (those born after the year 2000) are the main driving forces behind the rise in coffee consumption. And they are clearly demanding higher quality, both in the coffee itself and in the experience of drinking it at hip venues outside the home. A few influential trade journals report that roasters and coffee shops are making 2018 the “year of the new customer.”

Hipsters want to know more about the origin of their coffee and the trade practices used for supplying it. This has created the practice known as Direct Trade, which cuts out the middlemen between growers and retailers. Shops selling Direct Trade mocha get fresher, better tasting beans.

Direct Trade, while similar to Fair Trade, is not identical. Fair Trade is primarily focused on improving the lives of people growing the beans, while Direct Trade is based on getting the highest quality beans possible. Both trends are on the rise, with Direct Trade leading.

Direct Trade and Fair Trade are themselves the result of younger coffee drinkers insisting on knowing the story behind the coffee they are gulping down. Barrista Institute, an industry blog, reports, “In 2018, it goes without saying that coffee is all about the origin. The more stories one can share about the farmer, the bean, the process, the better. So the stories are the best way to bring the origin closer to the customer.” Consumers have shown they are willing to pay higher prices for the right story, innovative ways to brew, and high quality joe.

The 2018 World of Coffee, considered the Oscars of global coffee events, was recently held in Amsterdam. Featured were new methods of making coffee (Aeropress, Chemex and Hario) and new regions that export beans globally, including South Korea and Saudi Arabia. TJ  


With more evidence of coffee’s health benefits and the global demographics of coffee skewing younger, the trend of high quality, small batch, direct/fair trade brew is likely to continue for some time. There is also no end in sight to new retail java opportunities, coming soon to a location near you.

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