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Coffee, America’s Favorite Fuel


Powering America

Every day millions of Americans wake up and start their day the same way: with a cup coffee. The bitter, black beverage that kickstarts the mornings for many of us has become a $30 billion a year national cash crop. That rate of coffee guzzling makes it the second most popular fuel in America, just behind petroleum.

Whether you’re a dreary morning commuter or an up-late college student, caffeinated coffee plays an important role in getting you through the day. So while liquid gold is often used to refer to the black sludge drawn from the earth, there’s a strong argument that it’s actually the byproduct of hot water poured through ground beans.

But let’s not settle for colorful language and anecdotal evidence, here are some cold hard facts about the importance of coffee in the daily lives of Americans:

  • Roughly 83% of adult Americans start their day with a cup of joe.
  • the average drinker consumes 2.7 cups day.
  • Americans drink 102 billion cups of coffee annually.
  • That breaks down to 280.5 million cups per day.
  • 74% of seniors aged 55 and up have at least one cup of coffee per day.

With 10 million bags of coffee shipped in December of 2017, the most ever recorded by the International Coffee Organization, coffee has solidified itself as a cornerstone of the traditional American life. But the way and where we drink our beloved coffee beverage has been changing recently.

The Culture of Coffee

We may have sowed the seeds of revolution by dumping British tea into Boston Harbor but there is no doubt that the USA would wage a different war if our beloved coffee was ever taken away from us.

Typically, Americans take their coffee black or with creamer, but invariably, it’s taken seriously.

The importance and passion around our morning cup of joe has springboarded into an entire culture around drinking better coffee. Whether it was the meteoric rise of Starbucks or the ubiquity of simple capsule coffee machines like Keurig and Nespresso, we’ve seen a dramatic shift towards caring about quality.

In 2014, Instant Coffee was the drink of choice.

Scooping out spoonfuls of Folgers has been a staple of American households. Big tubs of ground coffee have lined the pantries of homes for months, but in the past decade, we’ve seen a resurgence of gourmet coffee and independent roasters.

This 3rd wave of coffee has been largely driven by the younger generation, inheriting and reiterating on the coffee culture established earlier. We can see strong drinking and buying behaviors that reflect this growing change.

While this propensity for going out for a drink and indulging in higher-quality coffee has been driven by a number of factors, we can see the effects of it simply in the accessibility of brands like Starbucks. In the past five years, with the Starbucks-at-every-corner has become a cliche, Google trends reveal a massive increase in searches for the delicious cappuccino and latte-serving establishment.

Google searches for “Starbucks near me”

In the same sense, brands like Keurig and Nespresso have made serving higher quality coffee in-home easier than ever. No longer do filters need to be changed or coffee grounds replenished, just push a button and quality coffee comes burbling out. It is a sound and smell that is gold for weary working Americans.

More than just fuel

With a developing palate for gourmet coffee and the growing accessibility of in-home options, the American coffee culture that powers the lives of millions is becoming about more than just getting through the day.

This shift in purpose has driven the growth of independent coffee brands and international coffee brands alike, as Americans continue to search for the perfect way to start their day. Whether it’s a daily trip to your local coffee shop, grinding your own beans, or enjoying the benefits of 21st-century technology with your own Nespresso machine, Americans of all races, creeds and colors make time for a morning jolt of wakey juice.