54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day. As we have mentioned throughout the course, coffee is probably the most ubiquitous commodity in the world, or at least in the US, nowadays. With the rise of coffee consumption, the ways in which it is prepared and drinked also changed. These changes, related to culture, technology and customer behaviours, reflect some larger issues of American culture.
The major changes that took place during the 20th century impacted the way coffee is consumed. There is a connection with the different ways of coffee consumption portrayed in the ads and the what is called the three waves of coffee. And just as with the waves, one way of consumption does not mean that the others have stopped. Even if instant coffee’s “moment” has long passed (World Wars), it still available, consumed and advertised.
We can extrapolate Zygmunt Bauman’s concepts of liquid modernity and using for thinking about ways of consuming coffee. According to Bauman, the passage from “solid” to “liquid” modernity created a new and unprecedented setting for individual life pursuits. As society progresses, the creation of value liquefies and begins to flow unfettered. The production time it takes for value to occur declines. To survive, products and interfaces must quickly flow from spaces of high-resistance and poor usability to spaces of low resistance and user interaction. What Bauman is suggesting is that individualism is key, and this is something the analyzed reflect. Before, coffee was a family endeavour, a ritual you did with friends and family. As societies changed, the ad did as well. Coffee is now (usually) portrayed as something one does alone. Single-serving coffee companies, like Nespresso and Keurig, are perfect examples of this shift in consumption and mindset.
- Bauman, Zygmunt (2007). Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty. Polity Press.
- Harvard School of Public Health. Coffee by the Numbers. Link