Custom, Convenient, Fun, Cold: 2024 Coffee Shop Trends

As we kick off a new year, we’re forecasting consumer trends that are shaping the future for coffee shops. As Gen Z becomes a bigger market influence, the shape of the specialty coffee industry is changing. There is evidence of this transformation not only in drink menus at local coffee shops, but in bold moves by giants like McDonalds and Chobani or in the success of drive-thru chains like Dutch Bros, or 7 Brew. In this article, we’re dialing in on four important coffee shop trends for 2024: 

  • Custom
  • Convenient
  • Fun
  • Cold

First, we’ll break down some major moves in the industry. Then, we’ll take a look at how these trends can take shape in our students’ independently owned coffee shops. 

Our featured image is from former student Coffee on the Red’s Facebook page. 

Big Moves Forecast the Future of Coffee

McDonald’s Launches CosMc’s

McDonald’s has entered the chat. CosMc’s, a new drive-thru only coffee concept, is targeting young coffee drinkers in Gen Z and Gen Alpha with beverages you can remix exactly how you like thempopping boba, flavor syrups, energy or Vitamin C shots, and so much more.” 

CosMc’s could compete with Starbucks and Dunkin, but they’re doing so by going after an entirely new market: the DrinkTok generation. They’ve got a menu full of cold, colorful, and easily customizable beverages just a phone-order away, including specialty lemonades, cold-coffee concoctions, and signature slushes.

CosMc's Favorites (Menu Items)

“This new era of younger consumers wants things to be fun, they want things to be accessible, they want fast-paced service: things like using kiosks, ordering on your phone and using the drive-through.”

Everything about this new concept feels like a direct response to the changing landscape of the market. From the menu to the drive-thru to the branding, CosMc’s is creating a coffee (and beyond coffee) experience aimed at a young, creative, post-pandemic, and tech-savvy demographic. There’s little chance a CosMc’s customer wants to sit down inside and sip a latte with 2% milk. 

The BBC reports McDonald’s aims to open 10 pilot locations in the US by the end of 2024. 

Chobani Acquires La Colombe

An article outlining Chobani’s recent $900 million dollar acquisition of coffee company La Colombe speaks to the future of coffee. Chobani’s not a stranger in the coffee industry (we wrote an entire article on using their Oat Milk), and the yogurt company has a lot of crossover with La Colombe’s RTD products. But here’s what we think is most important about this move and what it means about the industry: 

“Some in the specialty coffee community continue to believe that chasing the highest-scoring coffees represents the future of the industry. However, this perspective overlooks the reality of what’s going on in the market… In reality, the market has moved on from a focus on single origin or micro lot coffees; customers want convenience and customization.” 

What does this mean for independent coffee shop owners? 

Do industry shifts mean that coffee shop owners should follow suit? Not so fast. It wouldn’t be wise to replace your menu with Vitamin C-infused slushies if most of your loyal customers are ordering hot drip coffee. What is important, however, (especially for those in the process of opening a coffee shop) is to know how these trends might shape consumer behavior now and in the future. Here are a few things to consider: 

  • Does your coffee shop offer convenient ways to order? Do you have a drive thru, online ordering, or offer a delivery service? 
  • What options do customers have to customize their drink orders? Hot and cold? Do you offer milk alternatives, flavors, or additions like protein? 
  • In addition to your staple items, do you offer fun or unique options your customers can’t find elsewhere? 
  • Do you offer an extensive, quality cold drink menu?

Three iced drinks with straws by a lake.

More 2024 Coffee Shops Trends

We always like to stay one step ahead of what’s happening in the coffee industry. That’s why we write extensively about trends we see in our classroom, with our industry partners, and within the greater coffee world. Here’s a library of recent coffee shop trends we’ve been tracking and how they impact aspiring coffee shop owners. 

If you want to learn more about: 

How much coffee Americans drink (and what they like to order), read this article: Noteworthy Coffee Shop Market Trends for Small Business Owners

Gen Z’s Coffee Habits, read this article: Are Young Americans Drinking More Coffee?   

Cold Drinks, Health-beneficial drinks, and RTDs, read this article: What’s trending at coffee shops in 2023?

Drive Thru Strategies, read this article: Benefits and Challenges of a Drive-Thru Coffee Shop 

Hybrid Coffee Shops, read this article: Hybrid Coffee Shop Models: The Future of Coffee Shops

Set the Next Coffee Shop Trend at Texas Coffee School

At Texas Coffee School, we’re in a unique position to forecast the future of the industry. That’s because we sit with you, future coffee business owners, every week in our coffee education classes. We teach our coffee business students how to carve out their own niche in specialty coffee to become a thriving, successful coffee shop. Join our next 3-Day Coffee Business Master Class to learn how to open and grow a coffee shop business.

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We’ve helped hundreds of students successfully launch their own coffee shop businesses. Join us in our 5-Star Rated Coffee Classes, whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to open a coffee shop, a manager, a barista or home enthusiast looking to sharpen your skills.