Quick-Service Consumers Hot on Coffee

Staff Writer
New research shows that consumers are buying more coffee today than they were two years ago
Quick-Service Consumers Hot on Coffee
Maryse Chevriere

While the restaurant industry these days is bullish on specialty coffees and teas, operators should not ignore their regular brewed coffee, which accounts for most of their customers’ coffee orders, according to market research firm Technomic Inc.

Chicago-based Technomic’s “Market Intelligence Report: Coffee and Tea” found that 60 percent of restaurant consumers reported drinking regular hot coffee or tea in the past month, second only to the 62 percent of customers who bought a non-diet, carbonated soft drink at a restaurant.

According to the report, 14 percent of customers said they are buying more hot coffee today than they were two years ago, and 10 percent reported the same behavior for iced tea.

“Consumers who regularly purchase coffee on their way to work are motivated by the convenience of the location,” Joe Pawlak, Technomic’s vice president, said. “But significantly, they are actually more motivated by the quality of the coffee, making them important loyal customers who return often.”

Over the past few years, restaurants’ rising popularity as a source for quality coffee has allowed operators to increase their prices for coffee and tea — not including frozen or blended coffee drinks — Technomic found. According to the report, the average price of regular coffee grew from $2.25 in 2008 to the current average of $2.36. The average price for tea or iced tea rose from $2.40 in 2008 to $2.57 in 2010.

Quick-service chains are capitalizing on consumer appetites for better brewed coffee. Before rolling out its premium McCafé line in May 2009, McDonald’s upgraded its regular coffee to a premium roast blend in 2006 and tested the espresso-based beverages for McCafé for a year and a half. Wendy’s will take a similar approach with regular coffee in its breakfast test.