Pandemic and social media-influenced coffee trends

Post-pandemic coffee routines have returned with some consumers admitting that their coffee drinking habits have increased in the last year. 

Fortunately for the coffee industry, this change does not appear to be stopping anytime soon either. In response to this shift in behaviour and interest in coffee, OnePulse decided to ask 400 consumers from its United States Pulser community what they really think about the latest coffee trends. 

Below are the top seven insights OnePulse discovered from its coffee trend Pulses, selected from hundreds of results uncovered with OnePulse’s consumer opinion platform. Some of the responses are expected, and some are surprising (such as banning long, complicated custom orders) … 

The OnePulse survey found that US consumers really are asking for bizarre coffee concoctions dreamed up by social media stars: 

  • 34% have ordered a custom coffee drink because they heard about it on social media; 
  • 67% of those who have ordered these ‘social media’ drinks say were worth the hype; 
  • 56% would support coffee chains that implemented a ban on long, custom coffee orders. 

And while taste is the leading motivator – coffee drinkers overwhelmingly purchase drinks because of its taste – how a coffee drink looks is becoming more important. The survey found that: 

  • 98% of drinkers that have never ordered a custom coffee because social media prefers taste over looks; 
  • 26% of drinkers have ordered a custom coffee because social media prefers looks over taste; 
  • 37% believe social media is doing more harm than good to the coffee industry. 

Although US consumers like to stick with coffee classics, they are open-minded. Per the survey: 

  • 28% say their go-to drink is a regular cup of coffee, followed by a latte at 13% and a mocha at 12%; 
  • 65% say roast/taste is what influences their coffee buying behavior the most; only 32% say brand is the most influential factor; 
  • 33% haven’t ordered a custom coffee drink before because they haven’t found something worth trying. 

Although consumers are willing to try new coffee drinks, there appears to be a gap between ‘trendy’ coffee drinks and what US consumers have actually tried. For example:

  • 56% have never had a Dalgona coffee [whipped instant coffee with hot or cold milk] but are interested in trying it after learning more about it; 
  • 51% have never had a Snapchill™ Coffee but are interested in trying it after learning more about it [Snapchill™ Coffees are ready-to-drink, canned, coffees from Elemental Beverage Company, which are made using a process of ‘snap-chilling’ the coffee to immediately cool the coffee before canning.]; 
  • 32% have never had a sparkling Americano or ‘half-caff’ but are interested in trying it after learning more about it. 

The popularity of RTD is not waning! Nearly 45% of Americans who have tried ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee purchase it at least once per week, furthermore:

  • Iced mochas (39%) and iced lattes (36%) are the two most popular RTD coffee categories; 
  • 21% rate RTD coffee as “better” or “much better” than freshly brewed coffee; 
  • Only 13% have never tried RTD coffee before. 

Awareness of ‘hard coffee’, that is coffee and alcohol paired together, remains low – 64% of Americans have never had it – many are interested in doing so and liked the ‘spiked’ coffee after trying it:

  • Irish cream (41%), Kahlua (31%) and Vodka (24%) with coffee are the most tried combinations; 
  • 28% are “very interested” or “interested” in trying hard coffee after learning more about it; 
  • 77% say they liked hard coffee drinks after trying them. 

The topic of sustainability remains a questionable area as many consumers are still unsure of what sustainability/sustainable actually means or what it is. It is wonderful to learn that most consumers surveyed understand ‘single origin’ but, unfortunately, there is less awareness with sustainability. They seem to know sustainability is associated with eco-friendly and fair-trade practices, but per the OnePulse survey: 

  • 53% are ‘very interested’ or ‘interested’ in learning more about sustainable coffee; 
  • 31% say they drink coffee labelled ‘sustainable’ while 27% say they are unsure if they do; 
  • 51% would pay more for a cup of coffee based on country of origin, similar to how a glass of wine is priced. 

Well, whether it is a caffe mocha, a PSL latte, a flat white, a single origin from Rwanda or a plain, black drip coffee, they all further the coffee industry so happy sipping! 

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