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2014 Coffee Consumer Trends Report: More Gourmet, Single Cups

coffee consumer trends

U.S. consumers are gradually ditching “non-gourmet” coffee in favor of more specialty coffee and espresso-based drinks, according to the National Coffee Association‘s most recent annual consumer report.

Each year, the NCA gets a hold of about 3,000 U.S. consumers of ages and ethnicities in proportion with U.S. population data. The longest running study of its kind for the industry, the National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) study provides a wide-angle view of consumer trends, something that can get lost in the “specialty” bubble.

(more: This Single Label Affects How Consumers Actually Taste Coffee)

As for what constitutes “gourmet” in the the 2014 study, the NCA gives us only the following: “Gourmet coffee beverages consist of espresso-based beverages and regular coffee made with gourmet coffee beans.” Looking at the NCA’s numbers, it appears for the purposes of this study that “gourmet” covers essentially any arabica coffee products, pods included, as well as any retail espresso drinks.

For 2014, the NCA found that daily consumption of gourmet coffee among adults is up to 34 percent, a 3 percent rise over last year, while daily consumption of “non-gourmet” is down four points to 35 percent. The NCA says a rise in espresso consumption is largely responsible for the gourmet uptick, with 18 percent of American adults consuming espresso drinks daily, compared to 13 percent last year. Gourmet coffee was flat at 19 percent, the NCA says.

(more: Why Consumers Buy Ethically Sourced Coffee: A New Answer)

Coffee continued to increase its dominance over soft drinks, with 61 percent of adults drinking coffee daily — a 2 percent decrease from last year that falls within the study’s margin of error — compared to 41 percent of adults drinking soft drinks.

Daily gourmet coffee consumption was found to be highest among those between the ages of 25-29 (42 percent), second highest among the 18-24 and 40-59 demographics (about one third) and lowest among 60-plus-year-olds. The study also found that daily gourmet consumption was by far the highest among Hispanic-Americans (48 percent), compared to Asian-Americans (42 percent), Caucasian-Americans (32 percent), and African-Americans (23 percent).

(more: Younger Consumers Choosing Taste Over Convenience, Study Shows)

Not surprisingly, responses to brewing methods questions showed increases in single-cup home brewing systems. Twenty-nine percent of respondents who drank coffee within the past day said they used a single-cup brewer, up nearly 50 percent from last year. Meanwhile, 15 percent of respondents said their is a single-cup system in their home (over 12 percent last year), and 25 percent of respondents who don’t currently own a single-cup brewer said they plan to buy one within the next six months.

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