If you’ve tracked how much money you spent at coffee shops in the past few years, there’s a good chance it has gone up. The trend is reflected in rising same-store sales at Starbucks (8 percent in 2013) and Dunkin’ Donuts (3.4 percent). Even if you prefer a boutique coffee shop, it’s hard to deny that the “café scene”—particularly in corporate incarnations—is thriving in the U.S.
In fact, sales data from restaurant consultancy Technomic show cafés are the quickest-growing segment in the fast-food sector, with sales up 9 percent last year. Unlike other kinds of food, coffee has the advantage of being a daily ritual for many people. “Cafés continue, in quick service, to provide strong beverage and food options to younger consumers,” said Darren Tristano, an executive vice president at Technomic, in an e-mail. This includes both cafés that focus on beverages and café-style bakeries such as Au Bon Pain.