Top 10 Coffee Trends: Consumer Behaviors Shaping the Future of Coffee

July 2, 2024



    As a coffee business owner, understanding consumer trends and patterns can help your business grow.

    This is also the best approach to start your research if you want to enter the coffee business market or enhance your business practices. Here’s a comprehensive guide to this year’s emerging trends and coffee market behaviors.

    1. Growing US coffee consumption market

    The coffee market is an ever-evolving landscape. This year comes with positive news and trends, such as companies offering private label coffee services for both new and established businesses.

    Research suggests that coffee consumption is growing—and consumers aren't slowing down anytime soon. The National Coffee Association report indicates a surge in US coffee consumption.

    The report suggests a 36% consumption growth in 2024. Furthermore, the report identifies a 7.5% year-on-year growth in specialty coffee consumption, particularly espresso-based beverages, marking a new record.

    2. Expanding global coffee consumption market

    The growing coffee consumption trend isn't limited to the US alone. Data suggests a massively growing coffee consumption culture in Asia and the rise of coffee chains in the region. Research conducted in 12 Asian, North American, and Western European countries shows a sizable coffee-consuming population with an annual 5% growth.

    In 2023 alone, consumers in these regions spent US$36 billion on the beverage. Data shows that coffee consumption has surpassed other beverages, like tea and carbonated drinks. Additionally, coffee consumption is growing at a higher rate than that of other beverages.

    Even the Asian markets, such as China, Japan, and India, known to be traditionally tea-dominant regions with a large tea industry, are adopting the coffee culture.

    These trends are supported further by the surge of coffee shop chains and a more Westernized consumer taste in the regions. Nevertheless, we also observe coffee chains adopting a localization approach. A good example is how large chains, such as Starbucks in China, integrate local flavors into their coffee.

    3. Specialty coffee is the beloved choice

    Specialty coffee is the largest growing type of coffee on the market. Coffee consumers are now drawn to high-quality coffee from varying origins and unique flavors. Specialty coffee refers to the highest-grade coffee resulting from a range of the best supply chain practices. This includes everything from growth to storage.

    Specialty coffee is typically single origin or single estate. The affinity for specialty coffee is associated with the consumer's move towards premium taste and the willingness to pay more for coffee quality. For specialty coffee, consumers look for two key factors—the promise of superior flavors and ethical supply chain practices. Of course, an appealing coffee label also helps.

    Research forecasts the global specialty coffee market to grow nearly 3 times in the next 5 years. Currently, Europe, North America, and Asia are the largest consumer markets. On the other hand, the growing use trends towards home coffee preparation are further fueling the rise of specialty coffee.

    For business owners, this means the potential to attract more customers. More customers are likely to buy specialty whole bean and ground coffee from your business, whether it's a coffee shop, coffee roaster, or ecommerce store.

    4. The growing popularity of cold brew coffee and RTD coffee

    Hot coffee beverages, like specialty and espresso-based drinks, aren't the only coffee types holding a strong grip on the market. Cold brew and ready-to-drink coffee (RTD) are noted for growing in popularity lately, while research suggests a long-term growth trend of this unique drink in Asian and US markets.

    The leading iced coffee-consuming market—China—grew 2 times over the last 4 years, and currently, cold brew accounts for 1/3 of the total coffee consumption in the country.

    Nitro cold brew and RTD coffee industry in the US

    In the US, another type of cold brew is gaining traction. Nitro Cold Brew coffee has hit an impressive 904% menu rate increase in many coffee shops. This nitro coffee version uses nitrogen gas to boost flavor and texture.

    Experts argue its popularity is due to the incredible benefits it has over regular coffee. This type of cold brew is said to offer better texture, and taste, less acidity, and more caffeine. Its lower brewing temperature also reduces the natural coffee acidity to sweeten the drink.

    While a few consumers make their cold brew at home, many opt for the widely available ready-to-drink beverages. Apart from exploring unique flavors, consumer behaviors indicate that many also want to enjoy that quick caffeine hit to fuel their day.

    What better way than with flavor-diverse cold coffee and RTD beverages?

    5. Consumer interest in low-cost alternatives

    Various factors, such as rising inflation and social media innovations, encourage coffee lovers to explore other ways to enjoy the drink. Beyond coffee shop offerings, consumers embrace instant coffee, coffee mixes, and coffee pods for at-home prep for their cost-cutting advantage.

    Each specialty coffee alternative also comes with its perks. For instance, instant coffee and coffee mixes are great for crafting iced and cold coffee. On the other hand, coffee pods come with the convenience and cost-saving edge for a quick everyday morning cup.

    6. Increase in at-home coffee consumer preferences vs coffee shops

    The peak of the COVID-19 pandemic saw the rise of at-home coffee preparation since people were stuck in their homes. More people began to brew home coffee instead of going to coffee shops.

    During this time, nearly half of Americans explored new coffee brands and bought a variety of roasts and bean types. Further, nearly one-quarter of Americans purchased new home coffee machines and explored new coffee formats, like instant coffee or single-cup.

    Meanwhile, the popularity of coffee dropshipping also grew, providing an alternative source of income for many people.

    But, even with the pandemic behind, this trend has remained. 35% of consumers only purchase essentials so they can make their coffee at home. On the other hand, more than a quarter of all US coffee drinkers purchase larger products with longer shelf lives to cut costs. Thankfully, even the best coffee beans last for years.

    Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that coffee drinkers don't limit their consumption to just at-home drinking. After the pandemic, drive-through and app-based ordering also increased by 30% while in-store and contact coffee shop ordering numbers stayed low.

    7. Coffee subscription as a promising business model

    The rising at-home coffee trend has also helped introduce consumer demand for coffee subscription services. Many customers prefer this type of service for its convenience and cost-saving advantage. Customers simply sign up for a plan curated by coffee roasters or coffee brands.

    After signing up, they receive a regular coffee package at an agreed interval. Customers may choose a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly delivery interval, among others. Since companies are guaranteed consistent business, subscription services give you the same coffee at a lower rate than retail.

    Other coffee companies even offer the option to customize the service. For instance, customers can choose to receive different blends with each delivery or rotate their blends. Other brands offer a variety of products—from whole beans to ground coffee to canned coffee energy drinks, and nitro coffee.

    Subscription services for coffee present a new interesting opportunity for business owners. Ecommerce business owners can add the subscription service to their exciting model as an income diversifying option.

    8. Adopting an eco-conscious and environmentally friendly approach to drinking coffee

    Coffee market trends indicate a shift towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Whether coffee farming and production or transport, consumers care more about sustainability. Fortunately, this commitment is shown far beyond words—and through their wallets!

    As consumers educate themselves more about the environmental impact of coffee production, the coffee sector is swarmed by growing demand for sustainable practices:

    • 45% of consumers state sustainability is the most important factor in choosing a coffee producer or brand;
    • 95% of customers try to actively live sustainably.

    Coffee companies and businesses can take advantage of this behavior change in consuming coffee to innovate their business approach. The simplest way is through implementing ethical and sustainable practices, including supply chain partnerships with these shared values.

    The environmental impact of coffee:

    Consumer value aside, a more sustainable approach to coffee is a global responsibility and a seriously rising coffee trend. Climate change remains a forefront challenge within the coffee industry landscape. Therefore, businesses that show this commitment are more likely to thrive in the market.

    Innovative ways to remain sustainable and eco-conscious 

    A variety of players in the coffee industry have taken the lead towards a sustainable and environmentally conscious way of running their coffee business.

    For instance, Starbucks has rolled out its updated single-use plastic cup replacement program that aims for the brand to use up to 20% less plastic in US and Canada locations. According to the coffee chain, this program is part of their commitment to reducing carbon water, and waste footprint by 2030.

    On the other hand, Expocacer, a cooperative from Brazil’s Cerrado Mineiro region, introduced regenerative coffee production.

    With regenerative production, the region enjoys cleaner farming that protects farm ecosystems. Through this practice, farms in the region will enjoy soil health regeneration, soil diversity protection, climate resilience, and water protection while maintaining sustainable and profitable farming.

    Even certifying bodies are incorporating additional membership guidelines and requirements that reflect the global commitment to environmental sustainability. For instance, Fairtrade International has launched the Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence criteria (HREDD) as part of its trading standards.

    Coffee business owners should include sustainably sourced coffee products certified by sustainability organizations. These include FairTrade and Rainforest Alliance. Businesses can also share how they contribute to important initiatives, such as reducing water waste or ensuring fair farmer pay.

    9. Emerging interest in fortified and healthy coffee

    Coffee is also gaining popularity among health-conscious consumers. According to this report, nearly half of the consumers identified physical or mental wellness as their top priority. With the potential health benefits coffee presents, it has gained massive interest among health enthusiasts.

    Venturing into fortified and healthy coffee is another potential area of opportunity for coffee businesses. From turmeric to mushroom coffee, matcha lattes, or coffee enriched with CBD and collagen! Health-conscious coffee lovers are embracing coffee that comes with additional health benefits.

    This presents an opportunity for coffee professionals and businesses to explore the world of fortified coffee. Businesses can venture into a variety of fortified options for this beloved beverage, including:

    • Coffee options enriched with vitamins, minerals, or superfoods;
    • RTD coffee with non-dairy milk options for lactose-intolerant drinkers;
    • Low-acid coffee.

    The coffee market has become saturated over the years—with large key players like Starbucks, Nestle, and Lavazza enjoying a bigger market share. Thankfully, smaller and emerging coffee businesses, including ecommerce, can take advantage of innovative options to gain a competitive edge. There are many ways to start a coffee brand nowadays.

    Innovative offerings like fortified coffee and high-caffeine RTD coffee can help businesses stand out.

    10. Embracing digitization and technological advancements in the coffee industry trends

    Digitization sales channels and subscriptions help grow online sales for businesses. Whether a starting or existing business, taking an omnichannel approach and including digital platforms opens you to a broader audience and boosts profit margins.

    Research, too, suggests that online sales outperform in-store coffee shop sales. In the past year alone, online coffee sales reached a staggering $5.8 billion, growing over 20% from the year before. Plus, surveys suggest that most of consumers shop online, spending more time in ecommerce stores than in physical stores.

    Digitizing your business is a great way to remain relevant and competitive in the coffee industry. Exploring digital platforms can help you create a more personalized coffee shop experience and cater to your target niche. By selling coffee online, whether on social media platforms, establishing an ecommerce store, or both, you gain access to more audiences.


    How can I take advantage of digitization in the coffee industry?

    You can take advantage of the coffee industry digitization using existing online services. For instance, companies like Supliful, help businesses sell coffee online without inventory. While maintaining the values required in today’s coffee trends, Supliful sources, packs, and brands your coffee. Supliful even delivers your coffee products to customers.

    What is the most significant consumer trend observed in the coffee industry this year?

    The growing consumption of coffee is the most significant coffee industry trend observed this year. North America, Europe, and Asia are the largest coffee consumer markets. The most sought-after coffee products include specialty coffee, espresso-based coffee, and cold brew coffee.

    What challenges exist in the coffee industry?

    Currently, the market’s biggest challenge is the fluctuating costs of coffee beans. The unstable costs are associated with a decrease in coffee production, supply and demand disparities, and climate change-related weather issues.

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