Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

In 2017, the world saw a very close attempt at breaking the 2 hour marathon barrier, a mistake in announcing the Best Picture winner at the Oscars, and the first World Series trophy for the Houston Astros. It was also the year that reversed the downward decline in daily coffee consumption. The National Coffee Drinking Trends Consumption Tracking Report shows last year returns the US to around 2014 levels in the percentage of Americans who are daily coffee drinkers, reversing the downward decline since 2013. With 62% of Americans reporting consuming a daily cup of coffee in 2017, it represents an increase of five points from 2016.

A recent YouGov poll found that a majority of Americans prefer coffee over tea (56% vs 31%). However, a majority of Americans (51%) also report drinking both coffee and tea, with an additional 19% just drinking coffee and 17% just drinking tea.

Of those who drink coffee, 56% say they are not trying at all to limit the amount of coffee they drink, 29% try a little, and 13% try a lot. A plurality (31%) of coffee drinkers usually consume one to two cups a day. A Gallup poll found that just 10% of coffee drinkers would like to cut back. This is a stark contrast with their findings that 77% of smokers would like to give up smoking.

Although coffee drinkers outnumber tea drinkers in the United States, the country still consumes far less of the caffeinated beverage than previously. In 1946, the average American consumed 48 gallons of coffee per year.  However, that was largely 48 gallons produced from pre-ground beans made in a percolator at home. While coffee had been rationed during World War II, by 1945 it was freely available. Below is a comparison of costs for a cup of coffee post-war to present day.

Today, the coffee Americans are consuming looks significantly different with gourmet coffee popularity and increased sales of single serve coffee machines.  It was estimated that the U.S. coffeehouse market will have 2017 sales of $23.4 billion, which represents 41 percent growth from 2011.

Although all age groups show increased reported coffee consumption from 2016, the 2017 report shows the largest growth among 13-18 year olds, who report 37% consume coffee daily, including 29% who say they drank a gourmet coffee beverage in the previous 24 hours. Of the general population, over half (59%) of the coffee consumed in the previous 24 hours were gourmet coffees.

A Gallup poll on the same subject found that coffee drinkers tend to be older, with 74% of adults 55+ reporting they consume it daily, compared to just 50% of those 18 to 34 years old. When the data is broken down by income, a smaller percentage of those who make less than $30,000 report drinking daily coffee than higher income respondents. However, lower income coffee drinkers drink more cups per day than those that have incomes above $30,000 (3.8 vs. 2.4 cups). The study showed very minor differences in consumption by gender, education, and employment status.

Looking to 2018, many will pay close attention to see if the 2017 uptick in coffee consumption will continue or if last year was an outlier. As many Americans become more concerned with the sourcing and experience around coffee, the recent dramatic growth in gourmet coffee consumption doesn’t seem likely to slow down. Although even with this growth, it seems improbable that Americans will be drinking 48 gallons of coffee per person this year.

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