Retailers, consumers and prices
Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea founder Doug Zell is part of an independent third wave of upscale coffee houses taking advantage of America’s growing thirst for the premium coffees that Starbucks helped introduced to the masses. ( Click here to see today’s special report on Starbucks on Reuters.com, or read the report in PDF format.)
“It’s moving from a commodity to a culinary ingredient,” said Zell, whose buyers scour the globe for the best beans and increasingly are focused on treating coffee like a seasonal item — meaning the time from harvest to cup is no more than six months.
Coffee has come a long way in the last few decades. While our parents’ generation grew up on grocery store brands like Folgers or Sanka instant coffee, today’s kids are coming of age at a time when higher-quality espresso drinks like lattes are the norm.
“The consumer is becoming more sophisticated. I still think there is a long way to go,” said Zell, who recently opened Intelligentsia’s ninth location in Venice, California’s offbeat Abbot Kinney section. A tenth spot, which will be a cafe and roasting plant, is in the works in San Francisco.