Coffee: Americans Drinking Less but Better

      Each year, the National Coffee Association releases one of the coffee industry's biggest consumer surveys, the National Coffee Drinking Trends Survey. The NCDTS is eagerly awaited by businesses in the retail coffee industry -- and widely publicized by the mainstream media in a way that most specialty coffee vendors would envy. The NCA is one of the oldest trade associations in the United States, and it is dedicated to the furtherance of the commercial coffee industry just as the SCAA is dedicated to the furtherance of the specialty coffee industry. Over the past several years, the NCDT has detailed an interesting trajectory between the commercial coffee industry and specialty java -- a trajectory that has the average American coffee drinker indulging in higher quality coffee.  

American Coffee Consumption by the Numbers

  According to the 2014 National Coffee Drinking Trends Survey, 61% of Americans indulge in at least one cup of coffee daily. That's down 2% from last year's 63%, but the overall number tells just part of the story. The overall drop masks changes in coffee consumption in a few key specialty coffee areas, including:  
  • 5% increase in people who drink one or more espresso-based drinks daily, from 13% to 18%
  • 3% increase in people who drink "gourmet coffee" daily, from 31% to 34%
  • 5% decrease in people who make their daily coffee in an auto drip coffee maker
  On the other hand, Americans are increasingly embracing single cup coffee brewers like the Keurig. The number of people who had used a single cup coffee brewer in the past day increased from 20% to 29%, and the number of people who own a single cup coffee brewer increased to 15% with a significant number of respondents saying that they planned to purchase a single cup brewer in the next six months.   While many coffee experts feel that single cup brewers make inferior coffee, the increase in their popularity suggests that people are increasingly willing to a) spend more to get coffee they like, b) choose a coffee making method that allows them to make coffee one cup at a time and c) invest in coffee equipment that gives them access to a wide range of different coffees from different roasters. And that's nothing but good news for the specialty coffee industry, which is largely responsible for changing the way that the average American views coffee from a caffeine delivery mechanism to an everyday luxury that's worth indulging.  

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