Americans Are Drinking Less Coffee Than Ever. Here's Why.
Percolate on this: Americans are blowing unprecedented amounts of cash on coffee -- $11.9 billion last year alone -- but they’re sipping much less of the buzzy stuff for the first time in six years, Reuters reports.
The decline is a major buzzkill for those in the bean biz. Coffee intake in the U.S. is anticipated to dip for the first time in six years in the forthcoming 2015/2016 season, from 24 million 60-kg bags to 23.7 million bags, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Mostly to blame for the coffee consumption drop: Those wasteful Keurig Green Mountain K-Cups. Thanks to the popular single-serve pods, people are “brewing only what they intend to drink,” Reuters reports. Then they toss the spent plastic coffee pods in the trash, billions of them per year.
"People used to make a pot of coffee, now they make a cup," Pedro Gavina, owner of coffee roaster Gavina & Sons told Reuters. "Right there we're losing the sink as a consumer."
John Sylvan, inventor of disposable Keurig K-Cups, recently admitted that he basically rues the day he invented the eco-unfriendly coffee brewing system. He doesn’t even own a Keurig, a machine he likens to “a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.”
Addictive is right. Keurig brewers now grace the countertops of an estimated 20 million American households. And, today, the beast that Sylvan started with his roommate in college in the early 90s is a $4.7 billion dollar global juggernaut.
Love them or loathe them, K-Cups aren’t the only reason Americans are drinking less and less coffee. The National Coffee Association (NCA), also per the Reuters report, says our nation’s aging population plays a role in the the slump as well. Additionally, the NCA found that U.S. residents throw back only 1.85 cups of coffee per day on average, the lowest level since 2010.
Apparently keenly aware that Americans are cooling off on hot coffee, Keurig is brewing an aggressive pivot into SodaStream’s territory, the bubbling DIY home soda-making market. The Waterbury, Vt.-based company will launch a single-serve soda machine called the Keurig Kold in partnership with fizzy drink giant Coca-Cola this summer. Hopefully the carbonation contraption -- which will pump out one sugary glass of Coke, Dr. Pepper or Sprite at a time -- will have Americans turning a Kold shoulder on soda guzzling over time, too.
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here.