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Two Minute Tips

Drink up – Tips on covering the coffee industry

August 2, 2016

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Coffee is undeniably one of the most consumed beverages in the world and also here in the United States. The total economic output of the coffee industry in the U.S. just last year was $225.2 billion, according to the National Coffee Association USA, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

Here are a few tips and resources for covering the business of coffee in your community. 

Know where to find coffee trade statistics

The International Coffee Organization offers a bevy of facts and statistics about the global coffee trade that you may find useful in your reporting.

ICO updates its site monthly, providing information about everything from global coffee consumption to the number of bags of coffee produced from year-to-year. The organization also has updated charts where you can compare the ICO composite indicators. These charts track the overall pricing of green coffee from different origins and their pricing daily.

The site also has a fairly unique infographics page that compiles data from countries that export and import coffee on a map for users to navigate. The tool enables you to compare data on all things coffee, such as roasted coffee and green coffee imports, and you can easily find facts to use in your story.

Look into customer loyalty and reward programs

Customers love free stuff. And there’s nothing quite as a satisfying as that final stamp on your punch card, which means your next one is “on them.”

Corporate coffee chains, like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Peet’s Coffee, all have customer rewards programs.

LoyalTap and KickBack are just two of the reward programs local coffee chains can use to help build up their customer loyalty program. Both programs help businesses set their incentives for customers and can lead to greater customer satisfaction, which in turn means more business.

Stroll by your local coffee shop and check out what incentives they’re offering to customers. Are they using punch cards or have they adapted to a new system to reward customer loyalty? What types of information have they tracked from using this method? And what are they doing with this information? Ask customers how they feel about the programs.

Track the growth of coffee shops

The U.S. Census Bureau tracks coffee industry data through its Industry Statistics Portal every five years. The Bureau’s next report comes out in 2017.

Using the NAICS Association SIC codes, which are sorted by industry, take a look at the number of java shops nationally using the code 7225155. In this data, you can explore things such as the total number of coffee shops sales each year and the number of paid employees in the industry.

Or, use the code 311920 to obtain data on coffee roasting, coffee concentrates such as instant coffee, and coffee flavoring and syrups.

The National Coffee Association has resources to help you learn about every aspect of the coffee supply chain. On this site, you can find information on things such as why coffee consumption affects the economy and how sustainable business practices might impact the future of the coffee industry. 

Another useful component is the group’s market research section, which provides information on consumption trends, workplace coffee [HOW SO?] and where and when coffee is consumed.

The site’s business directory can also lead you to expert roasters in your area to profile. You can also look into what sustainable packaging solutions businesses are using in your community.


  • Lindsey Wisniewski

    Lindsey Wisniewski is a staff editor for The Athletic covering the NBA. Prior to joining The Athletic, she spent time covering the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers for NBC Sports. She also has worked for USA Today, FOX Sports, and Pac-12 N...

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