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Coffee Tastes Of Americans Befuddling

February 24, 2015

This just begged to be posted on Caffeinated Politics.

With upscale artisanal coffee brewers dotting city streets across the country, America might fancy itself a nation of high-end coffee drinkers.

But just the opposite is true: People in this country, on the whole, are actually drinking worse coffee today than they have in the past. And the reason appears to be that they value cheapness over quality — and convenience over everything. “A lot of people in America would take a sip of single origin high-end coffee and not appreciate the taste,” said Howard Telford, an industry analyst at market research firm Euromonitor.

Only about 8 percent of the coffee beans Americans buy are fresh whole beans, which upscale coffee brewers, like Blue Bottle, will tell you is the much better way to buy coffee beans. And ground coffee isn’t just outpacing whole bean coffee — it’s increasing its lead, each and every year.

The rise of coffee pods, which come pre-ground, provides what is without question the most compelling evidence of the country’s desire for convenience. Sales of coffee pods have grown by a blistering 138,324 percent — yes, 138,324 percent — over the past 10 years, according to data from Euromonitor.

Keurig now controls more than 20 percent of the U.S. retail market for coffee, roughly the same as the next two — Folgers and Starbucks — combined. But the rest of America’s top 10 most popular brands hardly scream high-end. Folgers, the second-best-selling brand, is famous for selling oversized buckets of ground coffee.

Even as Starbucks continues to plant coffee shops around the country, other artisanal coffee businesses — chained or not — continue to grow in cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles (think Blue Bottle, Stumptown and the like).Maxwell House, the fourth-best-selling brand, is open about its coffee’s mediocrity: Its latest ad campaign, after all, essentially amounts to a plea for people to settle for “good” coffee instead of aspiring for “great” coffee.


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