image of a coffee machine making coffee
image of a coffee machine making coffee

America’s Favorite Drink is Coffee

America’s favorite drink, is coffee. According to several studies and the chart on this page, American’s consume more coffee than anything else, by far. Per capita consumption of coffee in 2016 was 88.8 gallons, with the closest beverage (soda) coming in a distant second at 39.5 gallons, tea at 38 gallons and bottled water at 33.5 gallons.

Coffee maker making coffee in a coffee shop

This love of coffee cuts across all age groups. The chart below illustrates the percentage of each age group that drinks coffee. The oldest demographic, those 60 and older have the greatest percentage of coffee drinkers at 68% while the 18-24 demographic comes in at 47%. The rest of the population has about 63% that drink coffee.

Coffee Drinkers by Age Group

As a pretty heavy coffee drinker myself, I found the interesting data to be how people across the country drink their coffee and what type of coffee they drink. With the popularity of stores like Starbucks and the array of machines to brew the perfect cup of coffee all over the internet and on store shelves, it’s a little, but only a little, surprising that most people drink their coffee pretty much the same way.

Please note, much of this story’s data comes from a study presented by the National Coffee Association completed in 2020.

Where Do We Drink Coffee

This might sound like a really stupid subject, but if you’re associated with the coffee business in any way, it’s important to understand this so that you can market to customers in the right way (or invest in the right companies).

Overwhelmingly, we drink our coffee at home. According to a study conducted by Statista back in the summer of 2019, 90% of us drink coffee at home. It’s not the only place that we have our coffee, or else chains like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts and even Seven-11 wouldn’t exist. As the chart below, the next most popular places to have coffee are at work (24%)or on the go (23%, mainly in your car) with an additional 10% in a coffee bar and 12% in a cafe.

chart illustrating where you drink your coffee

According to the National Coffee Trends report by the National Coffee Association it will come as no surprise that the majority of coffee is consumed in the morning, particularly with breakfast. This is good as there has been a lot of research that indicates that having coffee after 2 in the afternoon can be unhealthy and will likely keep you from being able to sleep at night, which also can compromise your health. The NCA report states that 83% of coffee drinkers have a cup along with breakfast and 36% drink it in the morning (outside of breakfast). 24% will have a cup in the afternoon and only 11% have a cup with dinner and 13% in the evening (outside of dinner). Now, what does a cup mean? Your cup size will have a lot to do with the type of coffee that you drink, for example espresso is typically served in a much smaller cup than would be served in a mug or a standard ‘diner’ cup. An espresso cup typically provides about 3-ounces of coffee in a serving. The espresso size is the typical serving size for 10% of the 1,800 respondents to the NCA survey. 12% of the respondents have a serving size that exceeds 20 ounces. 44% of servings are considered to be small (5 to 8 ounces) and 53% are in a medium serving (12 to 16 ounces).

America’s Favorite Drink On The Go

This table illustrates where coffee drinkers purchased their RTD (ready-to-drink) coffee on the go:

  • Grocery Store – 49%
  • Mass Merchandiser – 32%
  • Convenience Store – 30%
  • Gas Station 28%
  • Cafe/Coffee Shop/Donut Shop – 23%
  • Drug store/Pharmacy – 12%
  • Corner store – 12%
  • All Other Sources – 53%

note – source total exceeds 100% to accommodate multiple sources.

What Type of Coffee Do We Drink

This is where the interesting answers come in from a marketing and investment perspective. According to the NCA study from earlier this year, coffee drinkers have shifted their drinking habits towards what would be considered to be gourmet coffee. Back in 2013, 57% of coffee consumed was from non-gourmet manufacturers and sources. This percentage shifted drastically in 2017 when gourmet coffee took over dominance with 59% of coffee consumed being in this category. This percentage has held pretty steady, peaking in 2019 at 61%.

Coffee Consumption

The table below illustrates the breakout of the types of coffee that are consumed. Again as in most data from this study, the percentages exceed 100% to indicate that multiple types of coffee get consumed.

Types of coffees consumed

The term gourmet can mean a lot of different things, and in coffee, that’s not different. There are many types of gourmet coffee ranging from espresso to Nitro+ coffee. The most popular gourmet coffee would be an espresso-based coffee. An espresso-based coffee is one that uses a brewing method that is Italian in origin where nearly boiling water is forced under pressure (expressed) through finely-ground coffee beans. This coffee can be made from any variety of bean and roasting level. The espresso-based coffee represents 37% of gourmet coffees consumed. Traditional coffee, but gourmet in nature represents an additional 18% and “pure” espresso represents 15% according to this study. There are some additional preparation types that also fall under the gourmet label including; Latte (17%), Cappuccino (16%), Cold-brew coffee (13%), Cafe Mocha (11%), Cafe Americano (10%) and Mocchiato (8%). [Since i mentioned Nitro+ coffee, i need to include that that represents 5% of gourmet coffees.]

Coffee At Home

The greater majority of coffee that is bought for and consumed at home is already ground and packaged for the consumer. This represents 76% of all coffees consumed (including non-home consumption). 18% of coffee is sold as whole beans and ground at home, 9% are sold as beans and ground in the store and the remaining 3% the consumer did not know.

The stand-alone shops like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Horton, etc. get a lot of the press about their coffee, the expansion of their business, and really the worlds’ fascination with coffee. The reality is that Folgers is the market leader in ground coffee in the US. Folgers holds 25.1% of the market share, which is worth $1.02 Billion in revenue. Not very close behind Folgers comes Starbucks at 12.4% market share (worth $503 Million), Maxwell House at 10.5% ($424 Million), and Dunkin’, which has 7.8% market share (worth $316 Million). “Private label” has an additional 10.7% of the market share representing $424 Million in revenue. The rest is made up of brands like Chock Full O’Nuts and 8 O’Clock Coffee.

Coffee Preparation Methods

There are as many preparation methods for coffee as there are types of gourmet coffees. Personally, I like my coffee made using a French Press, but i also have a single-cup brewer as well as a drip style coffee maker. The coffee drinkers in my house don’t drink the same type or flavors of coffee so we typically have at least 2 different preparation methods happening every day. Below is a chart illustrating how we prepare our coffee. Not surprising, the drip-style method is the most popular, but has less than half of the prep-share.

Preparation Method For Your Coffee

Most coffee drinkers have the ability to make coffee in a number of ways, like I described above in my house. The table below illustrates the coffee prep gear in a typically coffee household:

  • Drip coffee maker – 58%
  • Single cup coffee maker – 40%
  • Instant coffee – 27%
  • French press/plunger – 14%
  • Bean-to-cup brewer – 10%
  • Espresso machine – 8%
  • Pour over (like chemex) – 5%

America’s Favorite Drink

My favorite drink is also America’s favorite drink. I find it interesting how other people drink their coffee (for those of us that think about such things). This can inspire new ideas for things to try, new preparation methods to try, new tastes to include in your flavor profiles. With the average person drinking 88 gallons of coffee a year, including people that don’t drink coffee, we drink a massive amount of coffee to keep ourselves on the go and alert with our busy lives.

I’m pretty satisfied with my first cup of the day from a single-cup brewer, followed by 2 or 3 cups in the morning from my french press then finishing my coffee day right after lunch with one of those 2 so my routine is pretty set. Is yours?

Kurt Tietjen
Kurt has been in the online media business as long as it's been a business. Former SVP of Operations for, Chief Traffic Officer (head of audience & product) for Purch (formerly Tech Media Network), founder of High Peak Media and many other positions in businesses that no longer exist.