CHICAGO — Coffee fans were unwilling to give up their morning java even as they changed many other aspects of their daily routines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, consumers sourced approximately 73 percent of coffee servings from home and 27 percent from foodservice outlets, but that split shifted to 81 percent of coffee servings from home and 19 percent from foodservice outlets once the pandemic hit, reported The NPG Group.
Sales of espresso machines, French presses and cold brew makers grew by double-digits in the year ending May 2021 compared to the same period one year ago. Coffee accessories, such as temperature-controlled mugs and milk frother wands, also experienced double-digit growth.
The growth of at-home gourmet coffee preparation existed before 2020, although it was accelerated by the pandemic. While more than eight in 10 U.S. households have a coffee maker, usage of traditional coffee makers has declined in recent years as consumers seek out appliances that offer variety and an elevated coffee experience. Sales and use of pod-style, French and other presses, and pour-over coffee makers have increased over the past three years.
“Consumers’ palates are more sophisticated now when it comes to coffee. They’ve invested their time and money in bringing a gourmet coffee experience into their homes,” said Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor at The NPD Group. “Even when they’re back to work or school, they’ll continue to get a return on their investment. Manufacturers can benefit by offering great taste, which is always key, the ability to adjust the taste, and versatility in enabling consumers to get that coffee house experience at home.”
Lockdowns and restaurant service restrictions during the pandemic did have a significant effect on coffee servings ordered at U.S. restaurants and foodservice outlets. Coffee servings ordered at commercial foodservice declined by 7 percent in the year ending May 2021 and by 11 percent from two years ago. Consumers also cut down on visits to coffee houses and gourmet coffee chains, with visits to these outlets falling 6 percent compared to one year ago and 8 percent compared to two years ago.
Despite this, both independent and chain coffee shops have been among the strongest performing restaurant channels over the long term, and visits are expected to improve as the country emerges from the pandemic.
Today’s consumers prefer specialty coffee beverages over regular coffee. Orders for specialty coffee servings at foodservice outlets represent 44 percent of orders, while orders for servings of regular coffee represent 40 percent. Specialty coffee represents 71 percent of servings ordered at coffee shops and regular coffee represents 29 percent of servings.
“Coffee has been a go-to beverage in the U.S. for a very long time, but it has evolved over the last ten years,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Today’s consumers are looking to elevate and personalize their coffee experience with new flavors, recipes, tastes, appliances, and accessories.”
Overall, consumers drank approximately 44.5 billion servings of coffee, spent $2 billion on coffee makers and accessories for in-home brewing and made 6.3 billion visits to order coffee at foodservice outlets last year, according to NPD.