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NCA report finds specialty coffee consumption up nearly 50%

National coffee

The National Coffee Association (NCA) has released its 2021 Fall edition of the National Coffee Data Trends Market Research Series (NCDT) in collaboration with the Specialty Coffee Association.

This collaboration gives the NCDT new insights into consumer preferences in the specialty coffee segment. According to the report, despite the pandemic heavily influencing young coffee drinkers — especially their wallets — more young people are drinking coffee than ever before.

The survey found that 46 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds reported consuming coffee in the past day, which marked a 10 per cent increased from January 2021. In the age bracket of 25 to 39 years olds, the NCA reported that 65 per cent had drunk a coffee in the past day.

Particularly in the specialty segment, strong growth was seen in the 25- to 39-year-old age bracket, with 49 per cent saying they had drunk at least one cup of specialty coffee in the past day.

It was further found that 60 per cent of survey takers reported consuming coffee more than any other beverage. This includes tap water, which saw 47 per cent of survey takers saying this was the beverage they consumed the most.

The NCDT further reports that in America, 656 million cups of coffee are consumed per day.

The report found an increasing popularity in cold, iced, and frozen coffee. Sixteen per cent of survey takers reported drinking a cold coffee in the past day, which marked a 23 per cent increase since January 2021 and a 60 per cent increased since it was first polled in 2014.

The NCA differentiates that this cold coffee was defined as non-espresso based beverages that had been prepared cold. A further 24 per cent of past coffee drinks had consumed a cold coffee, which was 50 per cent higher than recorded in January 2021.

The NCDT also reports an increasing volume of coffee consumption being done outside of the home which had increased by 16 per cent since January 2021. According to the NCA, this is nearly back to January 2020 levels.

Within this category, 55 per cent of American survey takers said they had increased coffee consumption at work, and 20 per cent reported an increase in coffee consumption at cafés and restaurants since January 2021.

The report also found that 24 per cent of coffee drinks had espresso-based beverages in the past day. NCA says these forms of beverages are most commonly prepared away from home.

Already, 71 per cent of survey takers say they are visiting coffee shops or are planning to within the next month, which is 50 per cent higher than January 2020.

Ordering through a drive-through or app still remains above pre-pandemic levels with 55 per cent reporting they had made a drive-through purchase at a café, gas station or convenience purchase in the past day. This is 15 per cent higher than January 2020, with drive-through ordering peaking in popularity in January 2021 with saw 62 per cent of survey takers reporting its use.

Thirty-five per cent of survey takers reported using an app to buy products at a café, gas station or convenience store. This is 46 per cent higher than January 2020 levels. App ordering peaked in September 2020 with 39 per cent of survey takers using an app to purchase products.

“It’s no surprise that home remains the most popular place to drink coffee, and that the COVID-19 pandemic drove Americans to drink more coffee at home than ever,” says William “Bill” Murray, President and CEO of NCA.

“As COVID restrictions ease, coffee drinkers are returning to pre-pandemic routines but also keeping their favourite new coffee options like drive-through and app-based ordering. Wherever Americans go, they keep America’s favourite beverage with them.”

This report was the first time the NCDT had done a summer poll. It found that the most popular way to prepare a coffee was by a drip coffee maker with 40 per cent of past-day coffee drinks using this method. This is, however, down 31 per cent since January 2013.

The second most popular method was a single cup brewer which had been used by 23 per cent of past-day coffee drinkers. This method was up 15 per cent in popularity since January 2013.

The cold brew method of making coffee placed third, with 15 per cent of past-day coffee drinks reported using this method. This was up 50 per cent since January 2021.

The fourth most popular method was using an espresso machine, only used by 10 per cent of coffee drinkers in the past day. Popularity for this method peaked in 2017 when 15 per cent of survey takers reported using espresso machines.

These findings are based on an annual survey that has been conducted in the United States since 1950. The survey records the consumption of coffee, and since 1993, consumers habits and practices when it comes to espresso and espresso-based beverages.

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