About Coffee Drinking Trends

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Each year, several different organizations publish reports on coffee drinking trends in the United States and around the world. Those reports tell how much coffee is bought and sold. They tell who buys and drinks coffee, how much coffee people drink in different parts of the country and the world, and what kind of coffee and coffee drinks are most and least popular.

Significance

  • Understanding trends in coffee drinking can help coffee shop owners, roasters and other coffee professionals make business decisions about what products to order and offer in their shops. The information is also useful to other food retailers, those in the hospitality industry and anyone who is considering a career in the coffee industry.

History of

  • The National Coffee Association of USA, Inc. (NCAUSA) has compiled statistics about coffee consumption in the U.S. every year since 1950. Those statistics are published each year as "National Coffee Drinking Trends," often referred to by its acronym NCDT. It is the most well-known report about coffee drinking trends and is available from the NCAUSA website. The NCDT measures coffee drinking trends in many different ways that are useful for marketing purposes. In addition to measuring how much coffee people drink, the survey also asks questions to determine why people drink coffee and why they choose the coffees that they drink.
    The Specialty Coffee Association of America also tracks and publishes coffee drinking trends in association with the International Coffee Organization.

The Facts

  • The most significant coffee drinking trends in the past 50 years include:

    • A steady drop in daily coffee consumption from 1950 to 1993
    • A steady upward trend in daily coffee consumption from 1993 onward
    • A growing upward trend in specialty coffee consumption beginning in the early 1990s
    • An increase in the number of people drinking coffee outside the home from 1950 to the present
    • An increase in the consumption of flavored coffees starting about 1992
    • A growing awareness of ecological and economic issues surrounding coffee since 2002
    • The growing number of people concerned with health effects of coffee
    • An increase in coffee consumption in both young (18 to 24) and senior (60-plus) age groups
      Each of these trends has represented significant changes in the way that people view and drink coffee. For instance, the coffee drinking trends from 2003 to 2008 clearly show an increase n the number of people who are more likely to buy a coffee that is Fair Trade certified, which suggests that consumers are growing more concerned with paying a fair price for the coffee that they drink.

Benefits

  • The NCDT shows that a growing number of people are concerned about the benefits of drinking coffee, both personally and for the world at large. For instance, according to the 2008 report on coffee drinking trends:

    • 61 percent of coffee drinkers said that coffee improves their focus
    • 46 percent listed the health benefits of drinking coffee as one of the reasons they drink coffee
    • Fair Trade certified and organic coffees are the fastest-growing segment of the specialty coffee market

Expert Insight

  • As the coffee market has grown, its evolution has been reflected in the coffee drinking trends of the general public. The increase in sales of organic coffee, for instance, mirrors an increasing awareness of the harm that fertilizers and pesticides do to the environment. The growth of the specialty coffee market reflects the growing sophistication of coffee drinkers' palates. Most food and beverage industry experts agree that the upward trend in coffee consumption, especially in the specialty coffee category, will continue as long as the coffee supply can support it.

  • Photo Credit woodsy@stockexchange
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