The NCA’s National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report is an essential compendium of coffee statistics, offering the most in-depth coffee industry market research currently available — and it just received its biannual update. The Fall 2022 edition of the NCDT revealed a wealth of exciting trends in the coffee world today, but one of the more promising revelations is that more young Americans are drinking coffee than ever before.
For older Americans, coffee is a no-brainer. In each surveyed age group of Americans over 25 years old (25-39, 40-59, and 60+) roughly 69% of respondents had had coffee in the past day. However, for younger Americans (18-24), 51% of those surveyed had a coffee within the past day.
Despite this 18 point gap in coffee consumption between young people and older age groups, the divide is narrowing. In fact, coffee consumption among 18-to-24-year-olds is up 21% from January 2021 and a larger share of the age group is drinking coffee than ever before, surpassing the previous record of 50% set in September 2020. This indicates an intermediate-term upward trend of young people drinking coffee.
Younger coffee drinkers — especially 25-to-39-year-olds — continue to drive consumption of espresso-based and non-espresso-based specialty coffee drinks, which includes preparations such as cappuccino, espresso, lattes, frozen blended coffee, cold brew, and nitro coffee (for more definitions, check out page 16 of the free preview of the Fall 2022 NCDT.)
As more drinks catering to the tastes of young adults are developed, it is not unlikely that we will see young Americans drinking more and more coffee. However this trend develops, you can be sure that we will be updating these numbers in our Spring 2023 National Coffee Data Trends report. In the meantime, we invite you to explore our exclusive collection of in-depth data on this topic and many other coffee trends in the full Fall 2022 NCDT report available here.
By William “Bill” Murray, National Coffee Association President & CEO
The world of coffee has never been more complex – which is why having consistent, transparent data about coffee drinkers is crucial for your coffee business.
We’ve just released the Spring 2022 survey of U.S. coffee drinkers, the latest addition to NCA’s legendary coffee trends research, the NCDT – National Coffee Data Trends – with important findings about the rapidly changing consumer landscape.
1. Nationwide coffee consumption is at a two-decade high. 66% of Americans reported that they had consumed coffee within the past day. This is up a staggering 14% since January 2021 – the largest year-on-year increase we have seen since we began gathering data.
2. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Americans’ coffee drinking habits. While 27% of coffee lovers (up 8% from January 2021) are venturing out of home for their brew more frequently, out of home coffee consumption still has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. In addition, we found that at-home coffee consumption remains elevated; 84% of Americans had coffee at home in the past day, up from 4% in January 2020.
3. The popularity of specialty coffee is at a five-year high. 43% of American coffee drinkers chose a specialty brew in the last day – up by 20% from January 2021. Learn more about specialty coffee in our new, free-to-download specialty coffee breakout report, produced with the support of the Specialty Coffee Association.
4. Americans love espresso-based beverages. Cappuccinos and lattes are tied for the most popular espresso-based drinks nationally, followed closely by plain espresso and café mocha.
As the country begins to emerge from the worst public health crisis in recent memory, it is only fitting that coffee — backed by decades of independent scientific evidence showing its unique health benefits — is more popular than ever.
Industry leaders are telling me, over and again, that they have never seen a more complicated, challenging business environment. Our motto here at NCA is “We Serve Coffee” – whether by providing accurate market data, championing fact-based regulation, or celebrating the science of coffee and health. I invite you to acquire our latest market research, as well as learn how joining the NCA can support the strength and success of your coffee business.
NCA: We Serve Coffee.
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What does the post-pandemic future hold for the hundreds of thousands of retail outlets that provide coffee to Americans away-from-home?
The most recent study we conducted, the National Coffee Association’s National Coffee Data Trends report, offers many reasons for optimism for all segments of the coffee sector – including away-from-home.
Unlike some industries – travel, tourism, live entertainment – the coffee industry, as a whole, has fared reasonably well. Coffee drinking is not only safe, no matter where you enjoy it, but is connected to numerous health benefits. In fact, a large group of independent studies associates coffee drinking with lower levels of depression – important to know during a horrific pandemic.
All of which supports America’s continuing love affair with coffee, right through the pandemic. In January of this year, 58% of Americans reported drinking coffee “yesterday,” down from 62% a year ago, a modest change – especially when considering the study’s 2.5% margin of error.
But while coffee continues to be America’s favorite beverage, it is true that the away-from-home segment has been impacted by the pandemic. This impact, though, is temporary – a direct result of the pandemic – and is already reversing.
We know this because of what the data tells us about the recent past – and consumer attitudes – towards coffee.
First, one reason the away-from-home coffee segment has suffered is because of the rolling, random lockdowns the country has experienced. These are coming to an end.
Second, the slight decrease in overall coffee consumption is linked to the economic impact of the pandemic. 24% of Americans told us in January of 2021 that their financial situation was “much or somewhat worse” than a year ago, up from 13% who told us the same thing in January 2020. Stimulus checks are in the mail, and shortages of workers are growing. Recent reports confirmed a surge in retail sales in March and dropping unemployment. The economy is poised for a comeback – the worry now is actually over an “overheated” economy, and the inflation that could ensue.
Third, coffee drinking during the pandemic has been up marginally in the morning and at breakfast – but down marginally in the afternoon. 24% of Americans reported having an afternoon coffee in January ’20, down to 20% this past January. That afternoon coffee is closely associated with socializing, work, or being out and about, and will reverse as America reopens.
Fourth, contrary to the headlines, away-from-home coffee never disappeared. In fact, over two-thirds of respondents told us in January ’21 that they were already back in their coffee shops, or anticipating a return in the near future. First responders, truckers, delivery service workers, skilled tradespeople, grocery store employees, public sector employees – those in the “Essential” parts of the economy (including many coffee suppliers, by the way) have been there all along. About 11% of coffee drinkers drank their coffee during their commute – right through the pandemic.
Fifth, away-from-home coffee has pivoted quickly to adapt to the new reality, and coffee drinkers have responded. By September of last year, 39% of away-from-home coffee drinkers had ordered through an app, up from 24% in January ’20.
But there’s more. Turning from what has been happening to what coffee drinkers want to happen, the optimism grows even stronger.
The sixth reason for optimism is that coffee drinkers miss their away-from-home coffee. In January, 2021, 35% of respondents either agreed strongly or somewhat agreed that they “miss the social aspect” of going out to coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants, 34% said that they miss their “regular” away-from-home venues, and 33% said that they miss treating themselves by going out.
Some social psychologists have speculated that the post-lockdown period could be like the Roaring 20’s – a country ready to let loose. Indulging in a favorite coffee beverage prepared by a favorite barista would be one way to do that!
Seventh, the steps that away-from-home venues can take to encourage customers’ return – while requiring some investment – are straightforward. 43% of respondents told us that having workers wear masks and gloves – and having other customers wear masks – were steps that venues can take to “encourage (me) to visit them more often.” Practicing visible sanitation protocols, and limiting capacity/crowd control also scored highly. (See our free NCA guide to safely reopening your coffee business for more on this topic.)
Bottom line? Vaccines are rolling out, even with hiccups. The economy is improving. America has not lost its love for, its need for, and its relationship with coffee. America misses its favorite coffee shop, restaurant, and café – and for the one-third of Americans who are cautious about resuming their old routines, there are more reasons every day to feel reassured.
We’ve been through the worst we ever could have imagined – but today, and tomorrow, are better for all of us in coffee – especially the men and women around the world who grow the coffee we love.
From sourcing to roasting, coffee companies can have a lot to say about their product. These messages can majorly influence consumer perception and behavior – but not necessarily in the ways you’d expect.
A new NCA Consumer Insights report (based on NCDT data) takes a closer look at coffee claims – which include general statements, perceptions, or things that people find motivating about coffee.
For example, said Cheryl Hung, VP of Research at Dig Insights, during a recent webinar: “What kind of equity does coffee have with consumers? Are there positive and negative associations with coffee among different demographics? Who perceives coffee in a negative light? And what can we say to persuade them from a marketing perspective, or via point of sale?”
The Behaviors & Perceptions of U.S. Coffee Drinkers
63% of American adults drink coffee daily, according to new market research announced at the 2019 NCA Annual Convention in Atlanta.
The National Coffee Association USA (NCA) offered a first look at the redesigned and rebranded 2019 National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) today at the 2019 NCA Annual Convention in the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The NCDT report has tracked consumer behaviors and perceptions shaping coffee trends in the US for almost 70 years.
63% of American adults drink coffee daily, according to the NCDT, steady with 2018 consumption.
“Coffee is America’s most beloved beverage – and for good reason,” said William (Bill) Murray, NCA President & CEO. “New consumer values have changed the game for coffee. But the industry is adapting – and thriving – by embracing innovation and transparency.”
From sustainability to wellness, these realigned priorities mean that consumers are paying more attention to what’s in their cup than ever before.
Complete with the typical clickbait-style headline, a recent article intoned that the global population is imminently doomed to a world without coffee – and “not much” can be done about this “on a personal level.”
But it could be easy to miss the glimmer of hope buried in the last line:
“This future could look bleak for morning coffee drinkers, but with the help of farmers and scientists, our cup of joe can be protected.”
Rutgers scientists have found a compound in coffee that may team up with caffeine to fight Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia — two progressive and currently incurable diseases associated with brain degeneration.
The discovery, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests these two compounds combined may become a therapeutic option to slow brain degeneration.