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Britain’s relationship with coffee has ‘changed forever’ following covid lockdown

23/03/2023
Robi Lambie, co-owner of Cairngorm Coffee Roasters
  • Survey on nationwide coffee trends conducted to mark three-year anniversary of first covid lockdown
  • New research suggests Gen Z and Millennial consumers leading the charge in a speciality coffee revolution
  • Is this the end for instant coffee? Study shows one-in-three Gen Zers will ‘never drink instant coffee again’
  • Data shows that a third of Gen Zers class takeaway coffee as a necessity rather than a luxury

THREE years on from the introduction of the first covid lockdown in the UK, research commissioned by Cairngorm Coffee suggests that Britain’s relationship with coffee has changed forever.

As a result of lockdown, 43% of British Millennials say they are drinking ‘more coffee than ever’.

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The coffee industry was one of the first sectors in Britain to re-open after lockdown, with many shops returning in a ‘takeaway only’ format before lockdown measures were further relaxed to allow for ‘sit-in’ dining.

It may have seemed like a luxury at the time, but the recent survey underlines the changing relationship consumers have with their morning cup. According to the survey, around a third of respondents from within Gen Z would class a takeaway coffee as a necessity, not a luxury.

Robi Lambie, founder of Cairngorm Coffee, suggests that the data shows a behavioural change amongst a younger audience, who have turned to speciality coffee.

He said: “We know anecdotally that a lot of our customers really commenced their coffee journey back at the start of lockdown. The data from this survey backs up the fact that Gen Z and Millennials, in particular, have really run with this trend over the last few years.”

Cairngorm Coffee, which operates a roastery and three venues in the city centre of Edinburgh – with a fourth outlet serving coffee from a hatch in Haymarket opening soon – has witnessed increased demand for improved ‘at-home’ coffee solutions too.

Robi commented: “From the survey, we’ve seen that almost one in five Gen Zers (18%) have upped their at-home coffee game as a result of lockdown, and we’ve seen these trends play out with more and more customers opting to pick up a bag of our freshly-roasted speciality coffee to enjoy at home – it seems clear these trends are here to stay. We offer some funky tools and devices for home brewing too, and we’ve recently had to expand our range to meet the needs of a diverse, and explorative audience.”

Changes in the way we work also saw the coffee sector benefit, with around half (48%) of respondents from Gen Z suggesting that they’re now likely to work from a coffee shop.

Robi added: “There used to be a bit of a taboo surrounding laptops in cafes and it’s one thing we definitely had to consider. We’ve seen friends throughout the industry take a stand and ban laptops or work meetings, but for us it’s all about being respectful, not outstaying your welcome when others are desperate for a seat, and ensuring you continue to order coffee while working. There’s a balance in there somewhere which works for both parties.”

As for your standard, from-a-jar, good old-fashioned instant coffee? It may not be around for long. The research also suggests younger generations are saying goodbye to the low-cost alternative and switching it out for speciality coffee in large numbers, with 33% of Gen Z respondents claiming that they’ll ‘never drink instant coffee again.’

Robi suggests that a focus on the global good amongst new millennial and Gen Z customers may have something to do with their choices, commenting: “the numbers back up our belief that the ‘younger’ generations are a lot more conscientious when it comes to ‘how’ they spend their money.”

The survey results show almost half of all Gen Z and Millennial respondents claimed that they care about the global impact of their purchasing decisions.

Robi added: “We can’t really avoid the inconvenient truth that our purchasing decisions matter now, and the younger generation is leaning into that. Rather than opting for mass-produced, ethically questionable sources for their morning cup; they’re increasingly moving towards the artisanal, small-batch approach that represents the farmers and producers we work with.”

To find out more about Cairngorm Coffee Roasters, you can visit https://cairngorm.coffee/

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