Covid is changing coffee consumption habits

It seems as though almost every week I am writing about “Covid-19’s impact on…” But the pandemic has affected every aspect of life in 2020, including the coffee and tea industries from origin through the supply chain to the end user, so it cannot be ignored. In previous blogs I have discussed the effect Covid has had on both industries in a variety of topics such as tea production and as well as the growth of coffee sales via e-commerce. We’re also seeing that coffee consumption habits are evolving amid the epidemic. A new survey from Melitta North America explores how coffee consumption habits in the United States are changing at home, in the office and while travelling because of the virus.

Although a small group (515 respondents), the survey, which was released in September, showed that home coffee consumption has risen compared to 2019, naturally, with 22% of respondents indicating an increase in brewed coffee using pre-ground beans versus other methods. While online sales were on the rise – 21% of respondents said they are buying more coffee online compared to 2019 – consumers reported buying less coffee for in-home brewing from coffee shops (18%) and specialty stores (15%).

With most consumers spending more time at home due to lockdowns, 45% of survey respondents tested a new brewing method to make coffee at home versus 2019. Those consumers primarily gravitated towards simple or basic systems such as single serve pod coffee makers (22%) and automatic drip coffee makers (20%). However, many consumers have been more adventurous with 33% of respondents experimenting with new coffee techniques and recipes at home during 2020. The majority of respondents also said that they would like to improve their home barista skills with 46% indicating a desire to know more about how to brew better coffee at home, and another 23% expressing interest in learning more.

Most respondents currently employed said that coffee was very important or important to their workday routine. However, more than half (54%) admitted that they are somewhat apprehensive about communal coffee options at work. Hence, about 45% of respondents planned to bring their own coffee or coffee brewing materials to work moving forward. (See Facts, Figures & Findings in T&CTJ’s November 2020 issue for more details on Covid-19’s impact on office coffee systems.)

Approximately 56% of survey respondents said they were planning to travel this year, with 35% sharing they already had vacation plans for this year. In contrast to coffee trends at work, only 16% of travellers planned to bring their own brewing equipment with them. While travelling, respondents said they would buy coffee on-the-go from their traditional stops, including coffee shops (69%), restaurants (58%) and hotels (54%).

Perhaps most noteworthy, is that many of the respondents planned to bring their own brewing equipment with them on their vacations. Of those respondents, about 41% said that they were planning to take a drip machine rather than more portable options such as a French press (18%) or pour-over (18%). (Although, this could be a reflection of the types of trips consumers planned to take such as renting cabins or recreation vehicles rather than staying in hotels.)

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