With the rise of Americans working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic – Mintel reports that 40% of workers anticipate working from home exclusively or mostly in the remainder of 2021 – “away from home” (AFH) coffee sales have declined for shops across the country.

“The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed work commutes and purchasing habits, and the coffee industry is no exception,” says Caleb Bryant, associate director of food and drink reports at Mintel. “The percentage of consumers who purchase coffee drinks away from home daily dropped from 51% to 36%.”

However, there is hope for the industry in the form of Gen Z and Millennials. These generations are looking to coffee shops for drinks that they can’t replicate at home, leaning towards sweeter, more decadent flavors.

“65% of Gen Z’s cite flavor as the most important factor when purchasing coffee, so it’s important to consider the different flavor profiles that might work best in each coffee application,” says Nick Viriyasiri, a flavor scientist at Beck Flavors, an innovative flavor developer with a focus on the coffee and tea markets.

As a specific strategy, coffee shops can use limited time offers (LTO's) to pique the interest of younger consumers looking to try something new, says Bryant, citing the Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino that Starbucks introduced earlier this year.

Cold brew is also quite popular with Gen Z and Millennials. Mintel research finds that 62% of millennials say that paying more for cold brew is worth it compared to iced coffee.