We love us some coffee.The National Coffee Association’s annual National Coffee Drinking Trends report, released in March to members, confirmed what a lot of us probably already suspected: We’re not alone. The number of Americans who said they drank coffee within the last 24 hours rose to a six-year high of 64 percent. That’s up from 62 percent in 2017 and 57 percent in 2016.
Most of the other findings were fairly static from last year, but they supported the prevalence of some ongoing trends. For one, last year saw the biggest single-year jump in the consumption of espresso-based drinks, at 24 percent of those surveyed. That percentage remained the same.
Those who favor “gourmet” coffee (defined as coffee brewed from gourmet-quality beans) also held steady at 16 percent, after a two-point increase last year. (“Non-gourmet” coffee consumption also didn’t budge, at 31 percent.)
That’s the way I like it (uh-huh, uh-huh)
The youth of the nation continues to be the most burgeoning segment of coffee drinkers. Among, the 18-to-24 set, 37 percent reported drinking “gourmet” coffee in the last day and 19 percent had “non-gourmet” coffee. (Is it not cool to hang out in diners anymore?) And nearly half (48 percent) of 25- to 39-year-olds drank “gourmet” coffee over the same period.
The great majority say they still tend to drink at least some their coffee at home. Seventy-nine percent reported brewing their own, which is up four points from last year but still pretty well below the most recent high of 84 percent in 2012.
Thirty-six percent said they bought at least a cup of coffee from a café or a restaurant over the previous 24 hours, which is down 40 percent from last year. But it’s still higher than it was for the five years prior.
And—this seems high to us, but we really should stop being surprised by the constant line streaming from the Starbucks drive-through window—44 percent said they bought their coffee at a drive-through.
Coming of age
So, big picture, what do these results mean? They mean that most of us pine for our daily cup or two (of five) of coffee and, increasingly, our tastes are becoming refined. Whether we’re drinking it at home, in a café, or in a car, we’re taking a greater interest in who’s roasting the beans and when they’re roasted.
We’re also branching out from our comfort zones and at least occasionally indulging in espressos, and cappuccinos, and lattes. (But not café mochas. That was the one espresso-based drink to see a decline.)
Basically, we’re maturing. Even if it’s not so fashionable now, a lot of us got our start nursing cups of diner coffee (or worse, Mom and Dad’s). It’s only natural that as we come to realize that, even more than looking cool or getting a caffeine buzz, we actually enjoy the taste of coffee, we’d start to seek out its nuances.
To that, we say the best is yet to come.