Specialty coffee consumption trends examined in NCA and SCA's 2021 report

May 21, 2021

The National Coffee Association and Specialty Coffee Association have teamed up for a study that examines specialty coffee consumption trends.

The report illuminates the many ways specialty coffee consumption has been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It follows NCA’s annual National Coffee Data Trends publication, released earlier this year.

“This pioneering partnership with the NCA enables us to bring analysis on consumer data to specialty coffee businesses to help them get through this challenging time and come back stronger than ever,” says SCA chief executive Yannis Apostolopoulos, CEO of the SCA. “There are many things to celebrate about this collaboration. But we are particularly excited about the prospect of bringing analysis on specialty coffee data to members of the community, free of charge.”

The "2021 National Coffee Data Trends Specialty Coffee Report" is available, with registration, as a free download.


In January 2021, 36% of Americans aged 18+ drank a specialty coffee yesterday. Specialty coffee is defined as any espresso-based beverage (lattes, cappuccinos etc.), non-espresso-based beverage (frozen blend, cold brew, nitro) and traditional coffee that consumers perceive to be brewed from premium coffee beans/grounds.

22% drank an espresso-based beverage yesterday, while 13% drank a non-espresso-based beverage.

Overall, specialty coffee drinkers skew to the under 40 years demographic, with one-fifth living in urban centers.

Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans are the strongest consumers of specialty.

Attitudinal perceptions and behaviors show specialty coffee drinkers are generally more engaged with coffee.


Compared to traditional coffee drinkers, those who drink specialty coffee are more likely to say that their coffee was flavored (51%), and sweetened (14%), which speaks to the wider variety of options (and innovation opportunities) in this sub-category.

Despite it being the most popular roast level overall, medium-roasted beans are less prominent among specialty coffee drinkers: 43% claim their coffee beans were ‘mediumroast’ vs. 60% among Traditional coffee drinkers.

Specialty coffee drinkers are slightly heavier coffee drinkers compared to traditional coffee drinkers, with 2.8 and 2.6 average number of coffee cups consumed per day respectively.

Go here for more insights.


[Credit: National Coffee Association]
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