As the number of specialty coffee shops tripled over the past decade, cafés and coffeehouses have become a magnet for today’s youth in a way we haven’t seen since the invention of PacMan. Starbucks’ day care must be just around the corner. OK, the Philadelphia Inquirer did not print that part, but they did print this: KRT Wire | 11/21/2006 | Coffee is the brew of a new crew of youngsters.

It beats drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sugary sodas, and parents seem to encourage it. Now many kids are buckling to the peer pressure with every paper cup.

UPDATE: June 3, 2007
In case you missed this story the first time, it still has legs. Today’s Boston Globe revived it today with an article on coffee’s growing popularity among teenagers: Too Young for Coffee? – The Boston Globe. Nevermind that children in many other countries with coffee-drinking cultures are downing the stuff at equally early ages. Apparently here in America we are all like dogs: put it in front of us, and we don’t have the wherewithall to stop consuming it. Sounds like a job for the government to intervene.