One of the coffee industry’s leading gatherings is the National Coffee Association’s annual convention. Held this year in Atlanta, one of the regular highlights is a “first look” at the updated National Coffee Drinking Trends report. This survey has been conducted for nearly seventy years, and clearly shows a set of demographic and market trends that are important to consider as you plan your menu and product offerings. Here are just a few of the report’s major findings:

      Coffee consumption remains steady; nearly two in three individuals consumed coffee on a typical day. The numbers are even higher when one looks at past-week or past year consumption. These numbers can vary significantly by age (as the population ages, their consumption, especially of traditional coffee, increases). Consumption has seen a major rebound over the last ten years. How have you “expanded” your coffee section to adjust?

      “Gourmet coffee” consumption continues to rise- now comprising more than one-half of the total number of cups served. Traditional coffee consumption remains flat, and has been declining for many years as a percentage of the overall coffee consumption. This trend is exacerbated among younger coffee drinkers. How are you “upgrading” your coffee offerings? Better blends? Single origins? Organics? Dark roasts? Just serving the same old “regular” and “decaf” is not enough.

      “Out of home” consumption continues to rise (as more cups are being enjoyed at restaurants and hotels and offices).  This can occur in many formats, from single serve to fresh brew and including concentrates. How do you encourage this highly profitable sale with your marketing efforts?

     At the same time, the largest part of coffee consumption remains “at home”. This trend could increase if economic conditions become more challenging. Do you have products that allow you to participate in this (largest) market consumption sector?

      Cold coffee beverages (which I discussed in my column last month) are continuing to grow (while soda and juice consumption continue their multi-year decline). This growth extends across both espresso-based beverages and cold brew- and is even more present among younger consumers. This includes both the foodservice and “ready to drink” categories. And, unlike traditional coffee, these beverages are more likely to be purchased out-of-home than in-home. Are you offering a complete selection of these items (beyond a simple “iced coffee) all year round?

      While breakfast is still, far and away, the highest day-part for coffee consumption, post-breakfast coffee consumption continues to rise. How does your menu accommodate and encourage those who come in after breakfast? Is your staff trained to maintain quality in your product offerings?

        Espresso based beverages are the hottest part of the market, with consumption remaining at an all-time high. Does your menu include a full assortment of these beverages? Are you able to consistently and quickly produce these beverages for your customers?

The report is chock full of data and its findings can be sorted/ searched to create a set of customized data that can be tailored to your individual needs. (As an aside, Its discounted early availability to members is one of many reasons for industry members to consider joining the National Coffee Association).

With today’s fierce competition, you can’t afford to be missing the trends- and capitalizing on them. Sometimes it takes a bit of work, and even investment- but the payoff is likely well worth it. Working with good suppliers, equipment manufacturers and marketing support, generic trends can quickly turn into specific profits.