The National Coffee Association (NCA) report on American coffee consumption in 2017 shows we are one very caffeinated nation. This might not come as a shock as we see Starbucks and other coffee chains, along with local coffee shops, as staples in nearly every city in America. What is surprising is the type of coffee we’re drinking. According to the NCA report on National Coffee Drinking Trends, 59% of coffee consumed daily is classified as “gourmet.” This is the first time in the trend report’s 67-year history that more than half of daily consumption falls into this specialized category. Younger people are driving this growth and in coffee consumption outside of the home; people 65 years and older drink most of their coffee at home, while coffee drinkers under the age of 35 are more likely to drink it on the go.

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) broke the NCA numbers down even further to create the infographic above. Some noteworthy findings include:

  • 46% of coffee was consumed outside of the home in 2017. Of all the coffee consumed, 59% was specialty versus 41% non-specialty.
  • Over the last 18 years, the number of daily specialty drinkers has seen the strongest overall growth in the coffee market.Only 9% of U.S. adults were drinking specialty coffee daily in 1999. In 2017, that number hit 41%.
  • The number of drinkers has increased 10 percentage points in the last year alone, up from 31% in 2016.
  • When broken down into single servings, specialty drinkers consumed 2.97 cups of coffee per day in 2017, an increase from 2.24 cups in 2001.According to the NCA report, “This represents a gradual but fundamental shift in the American coffee landscape.” What it means is that more people are drinking coffee that comes at a higher price premium and could help keep what’s known as third wave coffee afloat; a market the Perfect Daily Grind describes as, “understanding that an espresso isn’t just made by a barista. The producer and roaster also receive credit.” It’s coffee that is distinct from the commodity market, celebrated for unique flavors, specific origins and the absence of defects.Specialty coffee is also characterized by direct relationships with coffee farmers—a way to recognize, and pay for, their effort and care. It matters because increasing numbers of people view coffee as an affordable luxury, not just bitter churn and burn to get them through their day.

Frequency of Daily Coffee ConsumptionThis refers to consumers who reported having consumed a coffee beverage within the past day:

  • Ages 13-18: 37 percent, up 6 percent from last year
  • Ages 18-24: 50 percent, up 2 percent from last year
  • Ages 25-39: 63 percent, up 3 percent from last year
  • Ages 40-59: 64 percent, up 11 percent from last year
  • Ages 60+: 68 percent, up 4 percent from last year

Daily ‘Gourmet’ Consumption

Daily consumption of ‘gourmet’ coffee beverages generally saw much higher rates of increase in 2017:

  • Ages 13-18: 29 percent
  • Ages 18-24: 39 percent, up 3 percent from last year
  • Ages 25-39: 50 percent, up 9 percent from last year
  • Ages 40-59: 39 percent, up 15 percent from last year
  • Ages 60+: 34 percent, up 10 percent from last year

By learning about new and upcoming coffee trends, restaurant owners and coffee shops can adapt and change their offerings to accommodate new tastes and boost their profits. We expect that 2018 will be a big year for the coffee industry as younger generations start to discover coffee, people demand access for higher-quality beans, and coffee shops expand their menu and try out new interesting techniques.