The U.S. is obsessed with coffee.
American consumers drink more coffee than either soda, tea, bottled water, or beer. More than two-thirds of Americans drink coffee every day, according to industry surveys. Whether it’s swirly-leafed cappuccinos, steaming cups of joe, or frothy frappuccinos, America loves its brew.
This year, International Coffee Day is September 29, and it’s a day to celebrate any and everything that has to do with America’s favorite beverage. Worldwide, coffee is an enormous business and is expected to be worth as much as $260 billion by 2021. In the U.S., the industry is valued at $46 billion and counting.
Clearly, coffee’s a big deal. And given that it plays a role in the daily lives of tens of millions of Americans, we’re digging into the U.S. coffee industry. But first, an important question needs to be addressed: Where can you find America’s best cup of joe?
Who makes America’s favorite cup of coffee?
Though Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s (with its McCafe coffee selection) stores are far more omnipresent in the U.S., Krispy Kreme reportedly serves up the best cup of coffee in America, according to a recent Harris Poll, which recently surveyed more than 77,000 people about more than 3,000 brands.
The North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme has only a few hundred U.S. locations, and just over 1,000 around the world. While the relative scarcity of Krispy’s coffee may give it a psychological edge over its competitors, the company’s long, winding history to the top involves not just coffee and donuts, but also ice cream and soap.
Compare that with Starbucks, which has more than 14,000 locations around the country. There are so many Starbucks locations that the company is actually shutting some shops down as they’re starting to cannibalize each others’ business.
America’s top coffee cities
Though America is coffee-obsessed through and through, there are some cities where it’s part of the cultural DNA. A recent study from personal finance website WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities in the U.S. to rank the country’s top coffee cities, measured across metrics including the number of coffee shops per capita, and average prices.
- New York, New York
- Seattle, Washington
- San Francisco, California
- Portland, Oregon
- Los Angeles, California
- Washington, D.C
- Chicago, Illinois
- Miami, Florida
- Boston, Massachusetts
- San Diego, California
Going through the grinder
The coffee industry has deep roots, and in all likelihood, isn’t going anywhere in the near future. But like any other industry, it’s at risk from outside forces.
One way the natural coffee order could be upended in the near-term is by resource-heavy corporations, eager to get a foothold in the sector, barging in with their own products. We’re seeing some companies start to elbow their way in. Coca-Cola, for example, recently purchased European coffee chain Costa Coffee for $5 billion. Dr. Pepper Snapple, also, merged with Keurig Green Mountain, creating a coffee-soft drink behemoth.
And aside from corporate threats, there are natural, existential worries for the industry to contend with. Scientists are sounding the alarm regarding climate change’s potential effects on coffee cultivation, which could bring about droughts, disease, and pests that could all destroy crops.
All the cream and sugar
Finally, to celebrate International Coffee Day, here are some interesting tidbits about America’s obsession with coffee.
- Coffee can only be grown in two U.S. states: California and Hawaii.
- The U.S. is the world’s second-largest importer of coffee beans and is expected to import 27 million bags (weighing between 130-150 pounds each) in 2019, according to industry forecasts.
- 64% of American drink coffee every day, according to the National Coffee Association (NCA).
- 79% of Americans who drink coffee prefer to make it at home, per the NCA.
- Women drink more coffee—and more often—than men, according to Gallup.
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