Are younger Canadians less interested in coffee than previous generations?

A new study shows that Gen Z is the least likely to have a cup of Joe with their breakfast.

The study was released Wednesday by Dalhousie University's Agri-Food Analytics Lab. It found that 30.4 per cent of those in Gen Z, defined as those born between 1997 and 2005, chose coffee as their preferred beverage for breakfast.

That's lower than all the older generations, with millennials coming in at 46.9 per cent, Gen X at 55.4 per cent, Boomers at 66.2 per cent and The Greatest Generation at 81.2 per cent.

The survey was done in March 2024 and contacted 9,165 Canadians.

University of Guelph food professor and research chair Alejandro Marangoni told Global News that younger Canadians below 30 years old are paying a lot of attention to studies about caffeine and its impacts.

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Findings show that overconsumption of the stimulant can actually lead to loss of energy. Coffee can increase the amount of glucose, which gives us energy, Marangoni explains. In response our bodies release insulin to get equilibrium but in the process it can remove too much glucose, which causes the well-known crash one can feel after drinking a lot of coffee.

"Coffee messes up that natural equilibrium," Marangoni said. "The more caffeine you have during the day, the more you're going to mess around with that natural cycle (of glucose levels)."

While some may be paying attention to such effects of coffee, the breakfast staple isn't dead just yet.

Janet Music, a research program co-ordinator at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, told Global News that Gen Z might just be too young to be into coffee.

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They might be opting for energy drinks or other caffeinated beverages such as a Starbucks Frappuccino instead, which they potentially don't even consider as "coffee" when answering the survey.

"Coffee is an acquired taste," she said. "It's possible that they just haven't made it to the point in their lives where coffee is the reason they're getting up in the morning."

She noted that you often need special equipment to make coffee at home to go with your breakfast, which younger Canadians may not have yet.

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Inflation could also be a factor in younger Canadians not getting that morning boost, Music said, as the price of coffee has gone up in recent years.

Natalie Riediger, an associate food professor at the University of Manitoba, agreed that the survey results may be more of an indicator of age-related habits that have existed for a long time rather than any kind of cultural shift away from coffee.

"People who are younger generally don't like bitter foods," she said. "Your food preferences change as you age."

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