Report: Cold brew coffee popularity spikes 300%

New coffee market data highlights the growth of cold brew, along with coffee trends like where consumers are drinking and buying their coffee post-pandemic.

Rachel French, Contributing writer

October 24, 2023

3 Min Read
cold brew coffee

At a Glance

  • Cold brew coffee popularity has seen significant growth, according to a recent report from National Coffee Association (NCA).
  • At-home coffee consumption remains stable following the Covid-19 pandemic, while in-office coffee consumption has increased.
  • More Americans drink traditional coffee over specialty drinks, but espresso-based beverages are also gaining popularity.

According to NCA’s fall 2023 National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report, cold brew coffee popularity has increased by 300% since 2016.

Cold brew’s popularity has seen strong growth in recent months, as well, with a 45% increase since January 2023, per NCA’s report.

Since 2019, the number of people who said they drink cold brew on occasion increased by 73%, while those who said they drink cold brew regularly increased by 60%. People who reported they make their own cold brew at home increased by 32% since 2019, NCA reported.

Before taking the coffee aisle by storm in recent years, cold brew as a coffee category was largely unknown. In fact, the number of people who said they’re unaware of cold brew decreased by 61% since 2019, the report showed.

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping coarsely ground coffee beans in cold water for at least 12 hours. While it’s fairly simple for consumers to make cold brew coffee at home, a vast number of ready-to-drink (RTD) cold brew coffee beverages have hit retail shelves in recent years.

Data from NielsenIQ shows growth of RTD and pre-made coffee increased by 12.1% over the 52 weeks ending April 2023. The market research firm predicted the rise of cold brew’s popularity could be a key driver of the RTD coffee category’s growth.

Post-pandemic, where consumers drink their coffee continues to shift, NCA data show. At-home coffee consumption, which spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic, reached a high of 85% of Americans reporting they drank coffee at home in the past day in 2021. This remains above pre-pandemic levels at 82% reporting they drank coffee at home in the past day, the report showed.

Noting a similar trend, NielsenIQ data suggests high costs caused by inflation could be leading more Americans to stay at home to drink their coffee in an effort to save money. NielsenIQ’s data showed 35% of shoppers said they are focused on only buying the essentials, and a quarter are buying bulk sizes with long shelf lives to lower cost-per-use.

NCA’s report showed drip coffee makers are the most popular device Americans use to prepare their coffee, with 40% reporting they opt for this method of coffee making. Single-cup brewers (27%), cold brewing (16%) and espresso machines (11%) are other popular methods.

While at-home consumption remains stable following the pandemic, NCA’s report indicated in-office coffee consumption has increased to 36% of Americans, who reported having an in-office coffee station, up from 26% in January 2021.

Per NCA’s report, more Americans drink traditional coffee over specialty drinks, with 61% reporting they had traditional coffee in the past week versus 53% who reported they had a specialty coffee drink. Lattes were identified as the most popular espresso-based beverage, with 18% of Americans saying they drank a latte in the past week, followed by espresso (16%) and cappuccino (15%).

How consumers buy their coffee is also changing, per NielsenIQ data. Online coffee sales reached $5.8 billion in the past year, an increase of 23.9%. Online growth for coffee far outpaces in-store growth, Nielsen also noted.

About the Author(s)

Rachel French

Contributing writer

Rachel French joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products Insider, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. French left Informa Markets in 2019, but continues to freelance for both FBI and NPI.

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