Retail Reboot: Away-from-Home Coffee’s Post-Pandemic Future

By William “Bill” Murray, NCA President & CEO


What does the post-pandemic future hold for the hundreds of thousands of retail outlets that provide coffee to Americans away-from-home?

The Spring ’21 NCDT showed a pandemic-induced dip in away-from-home coffee preparation, but there is reason to be optimistic.

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.

Your Coworkers Really Are More Likable After Coffee, Science Confirms

rawpixel-659493-unsplash.jpg

Coffee can make meetings tolerable more productive – and positive

Coffee Brews Better Group Performance, UC Davis Study Finds

First Research on the Effects of Caffeine on Group Work

The following post was originally published by UC Davis News

By Brad Hooker and Julia Ann Easley 

 

Planning a meeting? Serving coffee can focus group discussion, boost involvement and leave members feeling better about their own and others’ participation.

Those are the findings of new research on the effects of caffeine on group performance from the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis.

Decades of coffee research have explored its effects on the individual, but this study is the first on the effects on performance in group tasks.

Continue reading

Are Workers “Too Busy” For Coffee?

W5DFF3SSA6

Compiled by Kyra Auffermann, NCA

A New Study Looks at Coffee and Productivity in the Workplace

Even before I was employed by the coffee industry, my productivity has been fueled primarily by coffee – followed by WiFi, a solid soundtrack, and then another cup of coffee.

b19ca1bf21feac8f7f924df36e45701a (1).jpg

Fortunately, “procaffeination” is supported by science:  Studies suggest that consuming caffeine can help promote creativity, concentration, and even prevent workplace accidents. Plus, coffee breaks are linked to better morale and collaboration at work.

Yet nearly one-third (29%) of European workers said that they didn’t drink coffee at work because they didn’t have time or were too busy, according to a new study commissioned by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC).

The research found that workplace coffee drinking habits are shaped by time, taste, and the desire for a productivity boost. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said they always or often drink coffee during the working day.

Continue reading

Which Profession Drinks the Most Coffee?

Even if you don’t work in the industry, coffee is likely essential to your career. At-work coffee consumption is rising, according to National Coffee Drinking Trends data.

But which professionals are consuming the most? I Love Coffee made the following infographic based on the results of this survey on coffee consumption trends in the workplace.

coffee_drink_job_new

Check out I Love Coffee for more coffee infographics

Optimizing Office Coffee

By Daniel Granderson, Packaged Facts
Twitter: @packaged_facts

office coffee

86% of full-time employees drink coffee — and for most of these employees, coffee is a daily habit, according to Office Coffee Service in the U.S.: Market Trends and Opportunities (March 2015), a new report by Packaged Facts.

Among daily coffee drinkers, per Packaged Facts consumer survey data, 75% had drunk coffee at work within the past seven days, including 65 million (54%) who make coffee at work and 61 million (50%) who bring coffee to work.

Continue reading