By Dan Bolton
American households with single-serve brewers reached an all-time high of 32 million* in January, according to the National Coffee Association (NCA).
A quarter of all past-day drinkers reported drinking coffee prepared on a single-serve brewer in 2015. Ownership climbed to 35% among coffee drinkers in households earning $50,000 or more per year.
The latest National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) survey, conducted annually since 1950, showed more than three-quarters of Americans drink coffee, making it the nation’s top daily beverage choice.
Past-day coffee consumption among older Americans declined for the third year, likely due to aging and the nation’s overall trend toward lower consumption observed NCA president and c.e.o. Bill Murray. The report suggests “a need to monitor these data going forward to assess whether the relationship to coffee demonstrated by consumers in different age groups is indeed evolving.”
Seventy-one percent of Americans report drinking coffee at least once per week and 59% drink coffee daily according to the January survey of 2,771 adults. The study reported 61% past-day drinkers in 2013 and 63% in 2014.
For those who drank coffee at least once in the past year consumption held steady at 78% in 2015, a variance of 1% compared to last year and well within the study’s 1.9% margin of error. Among past-day drinkers 81% drank at least one cup of coffee at home and 35% drank at least one cup of coffee away from home, identical to 2014 results. Among past-day drinkers 8% had a coffee during their commute, 12% at an eating place, and 18% at work, all consistent with 2014 results.
“Continuing to take the industry by storm is single-cup brewing technology,” according to NCA. NCDT confirms that the trend continues, with ownership hitting an all-time high of 27% of consumer households. Awareness is steady at 76% and those indicating a “definite” or “probable” intent to buy a single-serve brewer within the next six months number 12%, according to NCA.
Households with a single-serve brewer consume more coffee than non-owner households. The national average is 3.2 cups per day for all past-day coffee drinkers. Those who own one of the popular Keurig or similar single-serve home brewers drink an average 3.3 cups per day.
Use of traditional drip brewers was flat at 54% following a steep decline in 2014. Drip remains the brewer of choice in a majority of American homes but five years ago 77% of households reported drip brewers as their primary method of preparation. The use of single-cup brewers, which varies by age, increased from 7% in 2010 to 25% in 2015. Preparation on a home espresso machine was 9% in 2015, down from 12% in 2014, “which is back to the levels seen in 2013 and 2012,” according to the report.
Cold brew preparation, use of coffee concentrate and pour over all showed gains to 1% while ready-to-drink bottled or canned coffee was flat at 5% among previous day drinkers.
Single-cup sales continue to erode sales of bagged roast and ground in grocery stores as consumers shift to multi-outlet department stores and big-box outlets. Overall 47% of respondents still buy their coffee at grocery stores with 26% reporting their coffee for in-home use was purchased from a mass merchandiser and 10% in warehouse stores with 4% buying online. Coffee shops are significant with 4% of adults buying coffee where they drink it. Drug (2%), convenience (2%), gift (3%), and dollar stores (2%) all showed gains.
Trading up to premium coffee is a well-established trend. “Espresso-based beverages are significantly more popular among those 18-39. There appears to be sustained, if not growing, strength among all under 40, particularly those 18-24.
Conversely, an overall decline in non-gourmet coffee consumption is more pronounced among those 18-24,” according to the report.
Mark DiDomenico, director of business development at Datassential presented the overview at this year’s NCA conference in Charleston, S.C. Among those drinking coffee, traditionally brewed (non-gourmet) dominates at 55% but there is an upward trend for respondents to choose a gourmet version of traditional coffee (16%) which is now gaining on espresso-based beverage drinkers (23%). The net for those naming gourmet coffees was 38% in 2015.
Among those who drank coffee in the past week, the top gourmet choices are espresso-beverages (36%) with cappuccino (19%) and lattes (15%) leading the sub-types which include café mocha (14%), espresso (13%), caffe Americano (10%), and macchiato (7%).
During the early years of the study NCDT reported more than 75% of Americans aged 18+ were drinking coffee on any given day. These numbers slowly declined until the mid-1990s, when the percentage of adults drinking coffee daily dipped to below 50%. Since then, the numbers have rebounded.
During the 1970s Americans consumed a daily average of more than two cups per person. During the 1950s and 1960s coffee consumption topped three cups per person per day.
In 2015 daily per capita consumption was 1.85 (8 oz.) cups of which 1.63 was brewed coffee and .89 was gourmet coffee. The remaining .16 of the total was instant. Per capita consumption has held steady since 1985.
*Estimate is based on 27% of 117,538,000 million U.S. households (U.S. Census 2014 projection).
NEW: NCDT 2015 data is available now. Survey results are searchable on an interactive online dashboard at ncausa.org