Baby boomers increasingly expect ‘proper’ coffee at retirement villages.

Gone are the days when a tin of stale instant coffee granules and half a carton of milk would sate the caffeine cravings of the residents of a retirement village. Today’s residents tend to know their mochas from their macchiatos. They are accustomed to café culture and the choice and quality that goes with it. And they’re not shy from speaking up if things aren’t up to scratch!

When INsite asked New Zealand Nutrition Foundation chief executive Sue Pollard what baby boomers want when it comes to food and drink, ‘proper’ coffee was high on the list.  She said tea and ‘proper’ coffee should be made available along with a selection of snacks and fruit, between meals in a communal lounge area, so it can be enjoyed socially.

It makes sense to enjoy a morning cuppa with other residents or with visiting friends and family. Coffee and tea have long become engrained in our social rituals. We instinctively offer a hot drink to visitors when they arrive.

Interestingly, Canstar Blue conducted research a few years ago that showed that there is a clear generation divide when it comes to how we consume our coffee. It found that the older we get, the more we enjoy drinking coffee for the pleasure of drinking coffee rather than the need for a caffeine hit. The baby boomer generation also considers taste more important than cost compared to their younger counterparts.

It’s not just coffee. Tastes and expectations are changing across every aspect. In days gone by residents might have been happy to share a bathroom with others, now they expect ensuites. They expect wifi, health and wellbeing facilities, beauty services. And good food and good drink.

What baby boomers want and don’t want
(by NZNF CEO Sue Pollard, originally published in INsite, August 2016)

General ‘wants’

  • Tasty, nutritious and familiar food – and of course dietitians should be involved in the meal and menu planning and as required for special nutrition needs, as they are the experts in the specific nutrition requirements of older people.
  • Meals to be served at times the residents prefer – and over a reasonable period; for example, dinner could be served from 5.30 to 7.00 pm each day.
  • Morning and afternoon tea and coffee (‘proper’ coffee) with a selection of snacks and fruit to be available between meals and for supper – served in the TV room and/or lounge.
  • The opportunity for residents to contribute to the menu planning process.
  • Regular new additions to the menu – encouraging the residents to try something new.
  • Able to see the food being prepared (sometimes) and served (usually).
  • Able to receive serving sizes of their choice and have seconds.
  • Preferably a short-order kitchen next to the dining area.
  • Able to invite visitors for meals (for which they pay). (A café on-site would be a bonus.)
  • Special occasions, with special menus.
  • To eat with others of their choice – or not, as they wish.
  • Music while they eat.



  • Room service on request as well as self and table service in the dining room over an extended period.
  • Cereal choices (hot and cold), fruit, freshly cooked toast, continental breakfast plus cooked eggs every day, other cooked breakfast options occasionally.


  • Self and table service in the dining room. Picnics outside sometimes.
  • Café-style food – sandwiches, salads, fruit, soup, light meals.


  • A ‘homely restaurant’ atmosphere for dinner, with wine service.
  • À la carte dinner menu at least some of the time.
  • In summer – BBQ meals, families invited.
  • Menu choices preferably made at meal times.
  • Vegetables self-served from dishes at the table.

What baby boomers don’t want

  • Institutional atmosphere and surroundings.
  • Dinner at midday or too early in the evening.
  • Old-fashioned food that their grandmothers ate.
  • Overcooked veges and too many stews.
  • Too much repetition.
  • Ordering all meals the day before.
  • The same place at the same table every day. (There may be exceptions to this!)


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