health

Boomers Love Their Coffee

Maxwell House tinWhich American cities drink the most coffee?

Where does America rank in world wide consumption?

Gourmet coffee is hardly a pop culture fad.

Did you know that people 45 and older, and especially those over 55 are the biggest coffee drinkers? Midlifers and seniors have jumped on the gourmet wagon with gusto. It was, after all, the baby boomer generation that brought specialized and better java to America. Peets began in 1966. Inspired by that enterprise, Starbucks was born five years later.

Seniors may not waltz into Starbucks and ask for “an iced schizo skinny hazel cappuccino with wings.” (That’s a small iced hazelnut with one shot of regular and one of decaf, plus skim milk, to go). But folks congregate there in part because the places are relatively inexpensive hang-outs for long periods with friends. It’s to baby boomers what Dunkin’ Donuts (founded in 1950) or the old supermarket coffee shop became to their aging parents a generation earlier.

Coffee in the 1950s and 1960s was basically “swill.” The bean counters had taken over. Major American manufacturers squeezed the quality to create “more” for less. Robusta, a comparatively inexpensive bean that can be hard on the palette almost completely replaced more refined Arabica.

And less coffee was used. The result was tepid flavored water. Since most Americans didn’t know the difference, they drank it up and asked for refills. Maxwell House and others invested millions in advertising, practically inventing the idea of a “coffee break” at work.

Companies have brewed an endless cup of vintage collectibles.

Which American cities consume the most coffee per capita?Starbucks logo
1. Chicago
2. New York
3. Seattle
4. San Francisco
5. Washington, DC
6. San Jose, California
7. Portland, Oregon
8. Miami
9. Minneapolis
10. Atlanta

If you’re surprised by San Jose, think Silicon Valley.

Where does the U.S. rank in per capita coffee consumption? Number 12. The biggest coffee drinkers? 1-4 are Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden. It takes a lot of energy to shovel that snow.

A definitive account on the history of coffee: read this Google Books review:  Uncommon Grounds.

Terry Hamburg writes Baby Boomer Daily about the exciting and revolutionary baby boomer years.

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