Online Extra: Coffee Drinkers and Their Habit

A poll reveals that while many respondents 25 to 45 go to cafés like Starbucks, traditional brands still have a strong grip on them

To get a snapshot on how coffee drinkers feel about their brew these days, BusinessWeek asked Greenfield Online to survey its panel of consumers, which it regularly canvases on behalf of major marketers. A total of 1,096 people across the country responded.

But we were most interested in consumers 25 to 45, since those are the heaviest drinkers of specialty coffee -- espresso or premium-priced beans typically ground in the store or at home -- and the ones the big food companies fear losing for good. We got 445 in that age bracket, and of those, 298 said they drink coffee.


  Buying coffee at premium coffee bars like Starbucks (SBUX ) is popular with 63% of the coffee drinkers 25 to 45. This is a worry for the big food companies, such as Kraft (KFT ), Procter & Gamble (PG ), and Sara Lee, who are seeing declining sales for their grand old brands like Maxwell House, Folgers, and Chase & Sanborn.

Sales of specialty coffees, now $10 billion today, are expected to grow 7% annually, while sales of traditional coffee brands slide downward. Maxwell House alone dropped $75 million in supermarket sales in the past two years, about one-fifth of its overall supermarket sales. Our complete findings from the survey of 25-45 year olds are as follows:

• 24% drink 13 cups of coffee or more each week.

• 77% make coffee at home regularly, and 42% said they also regularly get it at the office.

• 34% go to premium places like Starbucks when they get coffee out, while 29% favor lower-price outlets such as McDonalds (MCD ) or Dunkin Donuts.

• 86% drink traditional coffee and 26% said they drink specialty coffee drinks, showing an overlap. Some traditional coffee drinkers see specialty brews as a treat instead of a habit.

• 82% said they drink traditional coffee brands like Maxwell House and Folgers more than anything else.

• If they're brewing coffee at home, 80% make traditional coffee, while a mere 5% brew espresso. The remaining 15% whip up pricier specialty coffees.

• 63% said they go to premium cafes like Starbucks.

• 57% said they would not forego Starbucks even if they could make the same thing at home, indicating that the experience of going to a café is definitely part of the draw.

• 77% have a home-brewing machine and of that number, 89% have a traditional drip coffeemaker while the remainder have something pricier that makes specialty coffees and espressos.

• 65% of respondents said they would consider cutting back on pricey café coffee and specialty brews due to the cost.

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