Coffee Shop Industry Trends in 2020

This year’s coffee shop industry trends

The year 2020 has brought about change to just about every industry. Restaurant and coffee shop businesses have found innovative ways to keep their doors open. Massive layoffs have shifted the job market. People have had to re-evaluate the ways they spend their time. 

As coffee educators, we work with students who are opening or already own coffee shops all around the world. Through our students (and because we’re constantly researching and updating our curriculum to be the best in the business), we have the opportunity to see coffee shop industry trends right as they emerge every year. 

This year, we’ve identified seven coffee shop industry trends on the rise in 2020. 

Coffee shops are thriving in locations where people live, not where they work

With so many people working from home this year, coffee shops in residential areas are seeing more business. For many, a drive to the local coffee shop is one of the only outings of the day. With fewer reasons to drive downtown or to corporate areas, many of our most successful Coffeepreneurs® are those who have opened in rapidly growing residential neighborhoods.

Outside view of a coffee shop

Drive thru, carry out, delivery, and walk up coffee shops are here to stay

Of course, even coffee shops with great locations have had to adjust the way they interact with their customers. Coffee shops with a drive thru had a huge advantage when dining in came to a halt. While carry out, delivery, and walk up coffee options may have emerged as a solution this year, consumers have gotten used to the idea of taking their food and drinks to go. 

Coffee shops who streamlined the mobile ordering experience or optimized contact-free purchases will continue to serve customers this way even after the pandemic is over. 

People seek career fulfillment as coffee shop owners 

Entrepreneurship was already on the rise as we entered 2020. In the past, we’d often meet students pivoting their careers to seek fulfillment as coffee shop owners. We know first hand that recessions can also catalyze new businesses. (Our founder Tom started Texas Coffee School after losing his job in the 2008 recession.) In 2020, we’ve met many new students who have decided to pursue the dream of opening a coffee shop after being laid off from their jobs.

We’ve also met students who are choosing to switch careers because of the way their industries have changed. Which industries have changed the most in 2020? We’ve seen a rise in teachers, medical professionals, and people from the oil and gas industry (especially in Texas) take our 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class. 

Women may be outpacing men at opening new coffee shops

The last couple of decades have brought about an enormous increase in entrepreneurship for women. The coffee shop industry has seen similar trends. We have been able to gauge the trend of women in coffee by watching our evolving class attendance. For a long time, our classes were about an even 50/50 of men and women. Now, women outpace men in our attendance for all classes at closer to 60/40. 

Some of our former students have created amazing and successful coffee shop concepts. Check out Carve Surf and Coffee, Beanstalk Coffee and Sno, or The Garden Foundation some great examples. 

Tom training student to use espresso machine

Sparkling teas and hop teas are on the rise

One of the trends we love this year is the rise of sparkling teas. It makes sense to us that teas are joining in as seltzers gain popularity. One of our favorites is Rishi Tea’s Sparkling Botanicals, with flavors like Black Lemon and Turmeric Saffron. 

Hoppy drinks (that aren’t beer) are also big in 2020. Hoplark, based in Boulder, Colorado, tastes like a cross between sparkling water, IPA, and iced tea (but without the alcohol). They make for an eclectic addition to a seasonal or year-round menu. 

Non-dairy alternatives are continuing to gain momentum

Speaking of menus, you’ve probably noticed the number of milk alternatives available to you at your local coffee shop. Oat, coconut, almond, macadamia, cashew, and hemp milk are becoming much more common in espresso drinks. (Soy is seemingly dead.) They aren’t outpacing dairy by any means, but people seem to enjoy the taste of non-dairy drinks now more than ever. And baristas have been mastering their ability to use these substitutes on new and traditional menu items. 

Young people love coffee more than ever

Even before this year, young people were spending more time socializing, studying, or working in coffee shops. They love drinks (hot and cold) that are more creative than traditional staple coffee shop menu items. As people (especially young people) get out again in 2020, we are seeing a lot more emphasis on creative seasonal signature drinks that look as great as they taste. Many of these drinks don’t even have coffee or caffeine in them at all.

young people sitting in a coffee shop

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