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NCA’s 2016 National Coffee Drinking Trends Report is Big on The ‘M’ Word

latte in cup

While total U.S. coffee consumption is slightly down, many new and emerging market opportunities exist in specialty coffee in segments, such as office coffee, individualized retail beverages, e-commerce and subscriptions, brewing devices and gadgetry, and brand storytelling.

These are some of the takeaways from the 67th National Coffee Drinking Trends report, released this week by the National Coffee Association. The full report is available here — ranging from $425 to $720, depending on NCA membership status and formats requested — and the NCA this year introduced an interactive platform to produce custom reports based on the NCDT data.

In its introduction to this year’s report, the NCA focuses a lot on the ‘M’ word — millennials — the group of younger buyers considered by many market researchers as forever changing the way coffee shall be viewed, purchased and consumed. The NCA shares some hard numbers reflecting how younger buyers have shifted consumption patterns over the past eight years:

  • Daily consumption of espresso-based beverages has nearly tripled since 2008, according to the latest data from the 2016 NCDT.
  • Between 2008 and 2016, past-day consumption of gourmet coffee beverages soared from 13% to 36% among 18-24-year-olds, and from 19% to 41% for those age 25-39.
  • For espresso-based beverages alone, the jumps become 9% to 22% for the 18-24 age group and 8% to 29% for those aged 25-39.

Interestingly, for the first time in the report’s 67-year history, the consumption of coffee brewed through automatic drip brewers among consumers who drank coffee within the past day dipped down to half. While this supports an approximately 2 percent decline in total consumption, it also supports NCDT data suggesting that consumers are continuing to increase consumption in retail coffee shops, offices, shared work-spaces and other away-from-home environs.

“Coffee used to be brewed primarily at-home (and still is, among older demographics),” the NCA wrote in its introduction. “It was a private ritual. And no frills – a cup of coffee was a cup of coffee.

“However, more Millennials are drinking coffee out-of-home, turning coffee consumption into a public expression of individuality. In the age of Instagram, every detail needs to be on-brand – nothing is really private.”

The 2016 NCDT study also echoes the mountainous and ever-growing pile of research into the head-and-heart spaces of younger buyers, suggesting they want a “personal relationship” with their coffee.

“This 2016 NCDT data shows that the factors driving coffee consumption are fundamentally changing. The next generation of consumers has a more personal relationship to the products and brands they support. The things they use reflect their larger worldview,” the NCA wrote. “’Value’ is not always a question of price per ounce, nor is it a static proposition. Today, value can mean many things, depending upon customer demographics. For some consumers, ‘value’ may be more about a brand’s philosophy, authenticity, and commitment than anything measured in dollars and sense [sic].”



Oliver swift

Marketing is driving these so called ‘millenials’ to buy into the – coffee industry created – “personal relationship with the products” attitude. They believe what they are fed by the industry. These kids aren’t striving to make the world better by drinking special craft coffee…they are striving to be cool and hip; to fit in with what they are led to believe is trendy. And it is just that…trendy.


Randall, Oliver, this may be so….. but also note these milennials are adamant about this approach on nearly every product they buy and item they use. Furniture in their trendy “recycled” living space, the cars they drive (or don’t) and bicycles they ride, their clothing, the food they eat… and don’t eat…. they are pretty consistent in taking this approach to their lives.

Having recently spent two years in a state funded college (I went to complete a degree in business) I was amused to observe this in many of the students… in precisely the age group indicated in this article. There were also a number of “older” students, including myself… few of us shared the same passion for the whole schtick as described here.
I’ve also observed some shops ONLY offering products that satisfy their specific requirements, and others with a wider range of offerings. the “milennials’ consistenly gravitate toward the ones in the categories described here.

Write it off as a phoney imposed set of standards…… or embrace it. It is a real phenomenon. It seems strongest in the Pacific Northwet, but I’m beginning to see it in other areas.

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