The American economy is doing pretty, pretty, pretty okay right now. Or at least that’s what Bloomberg Markets is saying; I really have no idea. I know the Dow Jones did a thing and the president didn’t tweet about it but everyone thought he did because it seemed like something he would say and what even is reality anymore. And when the economy is humming, Americans are more likely to go out to cafes for their daily coffee, which is a good thing. But as Bloomberg notes, that isn’t necessarily new money coming into the coffee sector, but money that would be spent elsewhere—namely buying coffee at a grocery store—shifting to the cafes.
In 2017, total retail coffee sales is believed to have dropped from 766,000 metric tons to 764,000 and is expected to stay flat through 2022. But in that same timeframe, retail sales in coffee shops and restaurants are expected to increase 1% annually.
So while we as Americans aren’t drinking more coffee, we appear to be more selective in what coffee we drink. With sales moving away from supermarket coffee—dominated by things like Folgers, Maxwell House, and other pre-ground bulk-buy coffees—and to cafes, even if those cafes are Starbucks, the shift seems to be toward specialty coffee. Sure, not all cafes are specialty and there are some coffees sold at supermarkets that would be considered “third-wave,” but nonetheless the move is toward the small and the craft, away from the six-month supply. Maybe the majority of America is starting to come around to the idea that coffee isn't just coffee after all.