American coffee drinking reaches new highs, essential to daily lives, NCA finds

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The National Coffee Association (NCA) has unveiled it most comprehensive survey ever of American coffee drinking habits in its National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) 2020 report.

NCA President and CEO Bill Murray says the NCDT shows American coffee drinking has reached new highs and is essential to daily lives coast-to-coast.

“The NCDT is the Atlas of American Coffee. This year’s release shows just how much Americans rely on the energy, comfort, and normalcy of their favourite brew. But these are challenging times, and the coffee business is not as usual,” Murray says.

“NCA encourages everyone in the coffee industry to continue supporting small businesses, governments, health authorities, workers, and every day Americans as we all work together to manage the profound impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.”

Key NCDT findings include:

Americans drink more coffee than ever.

  • Overall coffee consumption is up by 5 per cent across the nation since 2015.
  • Seven in 10 Americans drink coffee every week, while 62 per cent drink it every day.
  • The average American coffee drinker drinks just over three cups per day.

Americans drink coffee throughout the day and are looking for convenient, on-the-go option.

  • Nine out of 10 older coffee drinkers consume a cup at breakfast, compared to seven out of 10 18-24 year olds. Young people are almost twice as likely to consume a coffee beverage at lunchtime than someone over 60.
  • Popularity of single-cup brewing machines has soared by nearly 50 per cent in the last five years. Americans are 24 per cent less likely than in 2015 to prepare their coffee in a traditional drip coffee maker.
  • Almost half – 48 per cent – of daily coffee drinkers who buy their coffee at a quick service restaurant, café, donut shop, or convenience store do so through a drive-through. One quarter of people who have ordered a coffee outside the home in the past week have used an app to do so.

Americans are choosing premium beans and espresso-based beverages over traditional coffee.

  • Nearly 60 per cent of coffee served in the United States is “gourmet”, brewed from premium beans.
  • Coffee drinkers are flocking to espresso-based beverages, with consumption of cappuccinos, lattes, and flat whites up by a staggering 50 per cent in the same time period, driven in part by strong popularity with 25-39 year olds.
  • Cold brew and nitro coffees were virtually unknown in 2015, but now one in five Americans under the age of 40 consumes at least one every single week.
  • Consumption of traditional coffee has declined by 10 per cent, though coffee drinkers over 60 are twice as likely to consume traditional coffee as 18-24 year olds.
  • Coffee drinkers in the Northeast are almost 15 per cent more likely to order espresso-based beverages than coffee drinkers in the Midwest.
  • Midwesterners are least likely to order decaf.

Coffee choices reflect Americans’ regional, cultural, and generational preferences.

  • Coffee consumption increases with age, but Americans under 40 increased coffee consumption 40 per cent since 2015.
  • Medium Roast is, overall, America’s favourite. The West Coast leads on gourmet coffee consumption and cold brew is nearly 50 per cent more popular there than in the South. Southerners are 25 per cent more likely to order frozen blended coffee than North-easterners.
  • Espresso-based beverages are most popular with Hispanic-American coffee drinkers, and lattes are most popular with Asian-Americans.
  • Some beverages may be trendy on social media but haven’t yet reached big numbers in general consumption. Flat whites, for example, are still only a distant 9th place for Americans across the board. They are most popular with Hispanic-Americans and millennial coffee drinkers.
  • More than half of coffee drinkers – 53 per cent – want to buy coffee that is certified good for the environment and good for coffee farmers and communities.

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