Teens Join Coffee Craze Once an Adult Domain, Coffeehouses Serving Up Java, Atmosphere to Kids
Edman, Catherine, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Catherine Edman Daily Herald Staff Writer
When she was growing up in Barrington, 31-year-old Heather Hemeter's idea of fun was buying a soda at the local Jewel or munching on fast food.
Now she serves up mocha freezes - a shot of espresso blended with ice cream and chocolate syrup - to crowds of teens who make their second home at Iveta Espresso Bar and Cafe in the village.
"We didn't have anything like this," Hemeter said of her younger days. "This has got a much hipper atmosphere than McDonald's."
Offering customers everything from board games to folk bands, Iveta's is just one of Northwest suburban cafe that caters to younger crowds.
In villages with few late-night spots for those under 21, coffee drinks are replacing milkshakes for many teens.
Yes, it's true. Coffee, long reserved for adults as an early-morning boost or late-night pick-me-up, has filtered down to a younger crowd - a much younger crowd.
On a break from shopping Thursday at Hawthorn Center mall in Vernon Hills, Angela Hwang, 15, of Buffalo Grove, and four friends weren't drinking sodas in the food court, but reading magazines at a bookstore coffeehouse.
It wasn't their first time, and they're not just cocoa drinkers. The five Stevenson High School students have acquired tastes for cappuccinos, and lattes with a shot of virgin Irish cream.
Hwang, who doesn't even like coffee, said, "It's like relaxing, and it's a good place for people to gather and talk."
Hwang and her friends mirror what's going on nationwide.
Teenagers are a growing part of the coffee-consuming crowd. It's common these days to see them flock to coffeehouses for an evening of conversation, homework or poetry.
"I think the whole (coffeehouse) culture is one of very interesting people getting together in a community. I think that really appeals to teenagers," coffee industry analyst Kevin Sinnot explained.
But wait. Isn't drinking coffee a privilege reserved for adults?
Actually, it's often the adults in teens' lives who introduce them to coffee or help them acquire the taste.
Sixteen-year-old Amy Stassen of Wheaton said she took the java plunge at the ripe old age of 5 - after her mother offered her a sample.
One of the first national studies geared toward 10- to 19-year-old flavored-coffee drinkers showed 6 percent of them drink coffee daily, according to the National Coffee Association of the USA. …