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Coffee culture infects today's kids

Cafes with their lattes and espressos replace shopping malls as hottest teen hangout. NC's Tom Costello reports.
/ Source: TODAY

Forget the shopping malls and diners, today's kids have gone upmarket.

Across the country, the hottest high school hangouts are at coffee shops.

"People associate coffee with sophistication, or being sophisticated," Julia Ofrecio, 15.

Coffees, espressos, cappuccinos, frappuccinos, caramel mochas, café lattes, and every combination you can think of. And some kids are making several trips a day!

"I'm actually a caffeine junkie,” said 15-year-old Kyrie Eiras-Saunders as she drank her second coffee of the day. “I actually get major migraines if I don't get coffee. But I also love the flavor of the caramel and I need the sugar otherwise I'd fall asleep in my classes."

"You need it to keep up because we all wake up really early," said Becca Leibowitz, 15.

And it's not just Starbucks. One Los Angeles coffee shop, just a coffee bean's throw from a middle school is filled with kids as soon as school ends.

"No coffee? OK, so a vanilla ice blended?" said one student at a local café.

“Student happy hour" starts at 2:30, just after the last bell.

"Are you a student Karen? Yes? Great! You get a dollar off," said the worker behind the counter.

"It's definitely good for business and also I think reinforces families to come and purchase our products," said Michael Miledi, the store manager of the cafe Coffee Bean.

With wireless Internet access, and cool music coffee shops have become "hang out" central.

"We very much love having teens in the stores,” said Ann Saunders, senior vice president at Starbucks. “We love having people of all ages in the stores."

Coffee, caffeine, and computers — kids are now the newest converts to the coffee craze.

This coffee shop phenomenon has gotten so big, several universities are now offering classes in "coffee shop sociology" - you might call it Starbucks 101, tracing the coffee shop experience back to the 17th century.