“Specialty Coffee” not a resonant term among coffee drinkers: SCAA study

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) released a study on 26 September, finding that American customers are willing to pay a premium for coffee “simply because it taste better”. A key finding was that 'specialty coffee' was “not a resonant term” among coffee drinkers, and that no strong options arose as a potential substitute among coffee drinkers' vocabulary. “A better cup of coffee” was found as the central driver for consumer behaviour, among those willing to spend more money on their coffee. The study found that most drinkers didn't necessary know what went into making their coffee better, just that they liked it.   The qualitative study was designed to gain insight from coffee drinkers who tend toward higher price points, drink coffee daily or more, and who self-identify as “coffee-lovers”. The goal was to understand more about what constitutes a great cup of coffee among a segment of loyal specialty coffee consumers, the SCAA said in a statement.  A total of six focus groups were conducted in two cities, Portland and Los Angeles. In addition to the two-hour discussions, participants were asked to develop collages to depict what great coffee means to them. The SCAA noted that this allowed for deeper analysis of motivators. This is the first time SCAA has conducted similar qualitative research.  “Specialty coffee has tremendous market appeal but we know very little about the nuances of what is considered appealing,” said SCAA Executive Director, Ric Rhinehart, in a statement. “This gave us an opportunity to explore some key topics more deeply and the result is information that will allow our members to connect more meaningfully with their customers.” Among the findings, SCAA uncovered key insights about psychological and emotional drivers. Virtually everyone seemed to view great coffee (at least to some extent) as an appealing gateway into an enhanced experience. The study is available for purchase at:

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