Poll: Americans Choose Coffee Taste Over Convenience

April 23, 2013

A recent Harris Poll suggests consumers - particularly millennials – have become coffee connoisseurs. Results of The Harris Poll of 2,496 U.S. adults surveyed online from February 13 to 18, 2013, Harris Interactive found that taste is the top factor in determining where coffee/tea buyers purchase their beverages, and that Americans are willing to go out of their way for their favorite cup of joe. Three in five coffee/tea buyers (60 percent) said the coffee shop they most frequently visit is their favorite, chosen over a more convenient shop (40 percent), and this number rises to two-thirds (66 percent) of those ages 18 to 35.

Chain Reaction

That favorite shop is likely a chain, as coffee and tea buyers said they typically choose a national chain (35 percent) almost two to one over a local shop (18 percent). Related findings from the 2013 Harris Poll EquiTrend® (EQ) study show that among national and regional chains, Dunkin' Donuts is top ranked and the Brand of the Year in the coffee and quick service restaurant category. This award is given in each category to the highest ranked brands in Equity, which is based on key factors of Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration. The brands in this category that rank above the category average Equity score are:

  • Dunkin' Donuts Stores
  • Einstein Bros Bagels
  • Starbucks Coffee Shops

The Caffeinated Generation

Having grown up during the coffee shop boom, younger Americans are, perhaps not surprisingly, leading the charge as the most likely to ever purchase prepared coffee or tea drinks. Seven in ten (71 percent) of those ages 18 to 35 say they do so, along with 68 percent of those ages 36 to 47. In contrast, 60 percent of 48 to 66 year olds and 57 percent of those ages 67 and older say they never shell out for these beverages. Millennials who purchase such beverages a few times a week or more are also the most likely to say they'll give up convenience to go to their favorite place, with two in three (66 percent) saying the store they frequent most is their favorite, as opposed to settling for a more convenient location.

Best Brew

Taste is the most important factor among all coffee/tea buyers when deciding where to make their purchases; 78 percent rate it a very important factor in deciding where to buy a beverage, more than 20 percentage points higher than any other factor, including price at 54 percent. And despite the growing addition of food options on coffee shop menus, less than one in four coffee/tea purchasers (23 percent) rate the variety of food choices very important, compared with 31 percent who indicate the same for the selection of beverages.

Growth of single cup

While Americans may love their Frappuccinos®, macchiatos and Coolattas®, the convenience of single serve home brewing has been gaining in popularity; one-third of Americans (33 percent) say they have a single cup brewing system at home and/or work. Among adults with a single cup maker, 70 percent say they have consciously chosen to use it instead of buying a drink at a coffee shop. In fact, single-cup brewing mainstay Keurig was named the Brand of the Year in the EquiTrend coffee maker category for the second year in a row. The brands in this category ranking above the category average Equity score are:

  • Keurig Coffee Maker
  • Mr. Coffee Coffee Maker
  • Bosch Coffee Maker
  • DeLonghi Coffee Maker
  • Cuisinart Coffee Maker
  • Krups Coffee Maker