SAN DIEGO -- Daily consumption of espresso-based beverages has nearly tripled since 2008, said the National Coffee Association (NCA) in its 2016 National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) report. At 18% of U.S. adult consumers in 2016, it signals a promising category shift, supported by younger consumer tastes, that outpaces flat overall consumption.
And it is millennials who are driving the increase. Between 2008 and 2016, past-day consumption of gourmet coffee beverages soared from 13% to 36% among 18- to 24-year-olds and from 19% to 41% for those 25 to 39. For espresso-based beverages alone, the jumps become 9% to 22% for the 18 to 24 group and 8% to 29% for those 25 to 39.
"Consumption trends and generational patterns seem to be syncing up in promising ways," said Bill Murray, NCA president and CEO. "As younger consumers enter the category in larger numbers, their tastes are supporting broader trends in consumer behavior."
Overall, consumption of past-day gourmet coffee beverages remains strong at 31%, on par with last year, but up from 24% in 2008. Similarly, past-day espresso-based beverage drinking is up by two percentage points over last year, coming in at 18%, nearly three times 2008's 7%.
At the same time, the influx of younger consumers into the category is part of an even larger pattern. Daily coffee consumption among 18- to 24-year-olds nearly doubled between 2000 and 2016, jumping from 25% to 48%, and among those 25 to 39 it rose by 18%, from 42% to 60%.
Also, older millennials, the 25 to 39 group, are the group most likely to drink gourmet coffee beverages weekly, along with specific options including cappuccino, latte, café mocha, espresso, macchiato, flat white and cold-brew coffee. The younger millennials, however, edge them out in frozen blended coffee. Overall, though, millennials far outstrip consumption of all gourmet coffee beverage varieties among the 40 to 59 and 60 and older age groups.
Over the past five years, single-cup brewer ownership has more than quadrupled, reaching 29% of American consumers. While the growth pace has slowed, with a 2% increase over 2015, the category remains strong, doubling over the past two years alone.
Single-cup brewing is also quickly gaining on the drip method in coffee preparation. In 2016, 28% of daily coffee drinkers used a single-cup brewer, up from 25% from last year and just 9% five years ago. At the same time, drip preparation has fallen to 50% from 54% last year and 70% in 2011.
The NCDT has been conducted annually by the NCA since 1950. It is the longest available statistical series tracking consumer attitudes and behaviors, and has become an industry-standard reference tool. The study engages a nationally representative sample of about 3,000 people ages 18 and older. Respondents are selected from an online panel with ethnic breakouts aligned proportionately with the makeup of the U.S. population. Respondents complete the survey online in English or Spanish at their choosing.
The NCA, established in 1911, is the leading trade organization for the coffee industry in the United States. The NCA is the only trade association that serves all segments of the U.S. coffee industry, including traditional and specialty companies. A majority of NCA membership, which accounts for more than 90% of U.S. coffee commerce, is comprised of small and mid-sized companies and includes growers, roasters, retailers, importer/exporters, wholesaler/suppliers and allied industry businesses.