Red alert! Red alert!
A coffee-guzzling craze is taking society by storm – and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In just 10 years, the amount of coffee shops on the UK high street has almost doubled. We’re drinking 95 million cups of the stuff a day (though truth be told, I probably account for half of that). Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes have a somewhat cult-like following, and in a recent study, Britons declared that they now prefer coffee to tea (which, if you live in the UK, will realise is a big deal).
Digitally, it’s the same story.
Social media is drenched in the coffee love. #coffee has been used over 96 million times on Instagram alone. Pictures of half-caff, low-fat caramel frappuccinos fill up our dashboards, while high street chains compete for our attention with their increasingly hairbrained creations. Starbucks launched a unicorn frappuccino last year (excuse my acronym, but wtf), and in Australia, you can now buy a coffee with your face on it, or drink it from an avocado skin. (Because… why not?)
Let’s consider the statistics, shall we?
Our coffee obsession has grown exponentially – and while it’s still mostly enjoyed by those over the age of 53 in the UK, millennials have given the mania a real boost. According to New Food Magazine, this age group alone contributes to 50% of the coffee consumed in coffee shops, bars and restaurants, while The British Coffee Association tells us that 80% of those who visit coffee shops do so at least once a week.
This arguably explains why coffee’s everywhere you look on Instagram, too. Millennials take up the bulk of the platform’s 1-billion strong consumer base – and with our love for posting the details of our lives online, it makes sense that coffee’s so widely talked about.
So why do millennials like coffee so much?
Ironically enough, it doesn’t seem to be about taste (sorry, coffee bean). New Food Magazine reports that millennials are the least likely group to drink coffee at home, with only 18% of them doing so regularly.
In truth, going out has become a huge part of the coffee drinking ritual (much like it is with the characters in F.R.I.E.N.D.S., who spend half their lives in Central Perk). Coffee is part of an active lifestyle – and more specifically, a symbol that you’re living socially.
The social media analytics reveal all.
In a report published by Crimson Hexagon last year, it’s shown that ‘coffee with friends’ on Instagram had a huge share of voice, beating the likes of ‘breakfast and brunch’, ‘coffee shop’ and ‘Starbucks coffee’ (though it’s worth noting that these other popular topics involved being out and about, too). The conversation wasn’t just about coffee itself – it was about who it was being drunk with, and where, and when.
The growing visual appeal of coffee could explain, too, why it’s lifted off on Instagram in particular. Our lattes, cappuccinos and the like are prettier than ever, decorated with detailed designs and served in mugs that appeal strongly to our comfort-driven, ‘hyggelit’ hearts. Indeed, in the same report, it’s shown that ‘latte art’ was a hugely discussed topic on Instagram, with a whopping 37% share of voice – sharing the spotlight comfortably with drinking ‘coffee with friends’.
Looks and likeability? It’s the drink that has it all.
Coffee has become the prettiest and most popular drink on the block: and by associating its drinkers with a lively, hip and sociable lifestyle, our passion for it has only grown.
I can’t see it stopping, but to be honest, I don’t mind. I love a hazelnut latte just as much as the next person – just no more unicorn frappuccinos, please. Those looked gross.
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