In April 2020, Coffee Review conducted a survey of its readers to better understand the impacts of the coronavirus crisis on members of the coffee community. We received over 100 survey responses from readers in 19 countries. Roughly three-quarters of respondents were from the United States, with 30 states represented. Nearly eight out of ten respondents were consumers; the remainder were coffee industry professionals.
As a group, survey respondents report that their daily coffee consumption has increased since the coronavirus crisis began. Three out of ten readers report increasing or significantly increasing their coffee consumption. Fewer than one in ten reported decreased consumption.
Stay-at-home orders in place at the time of the survey applied to over 90% of the U.S. population. Both anecdotally and based on survey results, these restrictions dramatically changed coffee consumption patterns by consumer channel. We know from speaking with roasters and advertisers that many cafes are closed or offering takeout only. Foot traffic is down dramatically, and consumption at offices and schools is near zero.
Not surprisingly, the amount of coffee being prepared and consumed at home has increased significantly. More than five out of ten respondents report that they are primarily purchasing coffee online from coffee roasters or coffee-focused retailers. An additional one in ten are ordering online through grocery delivery services. Several readers report taking up roasting at home.
We were not able to draw statistically significant conclusions about differences in coffee consumption patterns between countries, states or regions with stay-at-home orders and those without. However, open-ended comments from respondents show a wide range of experiences, from heartbreaking hardship, to limited direct impacts, to hopeful introspection.
Here is a representative sample of comments from survey respondents:
Illinois, United States
“I’m drinking more coffee. I make some early, then make some more again at lunch. The other thing I noticed is that by searching for and buying coffee online, the activity serves as a little travelogue – put another way, it gets my mind outside even if my body has to stay in. I did this recently with a coffee roaster in Montana, and it spurred a number of conversations with my wife about our experiences there. Now, as we drink the coffee it is like a touch of the mountains. But I miss the coffee house experience. The smells, the energy, the groups collecting there. I’m very worried about some of the smaller shops. I don’t know how they’ll survive this.”
New York, United States
“Lost my job. So have all my coworkers. This is a disaster and I don’t know how we will get through this.”
Colorado, United States
“26 years in our industry and now laid off. It’s scary that the corona virus has impacted the coffee world so seriously. No drought, no embargoes or shortages have ever stopped the coffee industry in its tracks like this. Sadly, we will lose a lot of favorite coffee spots and people.”
New Jersey, United States
“I’m retired, so the coronavirus hasn’t affected me very much. I’m more concerned about my daughter and my young grandkids.”
Hawaii, United States
“Mostly unaffected. My work is on behalf of foreign governments in coffee-producing regions. Projects continue (for now), but travel has been delayed to later this year. Some uncertainty about how this will impact underdeveloped countries in the next year or two but relative optimism that life will resume. In the meantime, I’m just happy to be home.”
One respondent from Indiana summed it up well:
“We are staying at home for some time, like most of the remaining parts of the world. Try to work, read, enjoy and drink good coffee. Wish all the community safe and healthy days without coronavirus very soon. And wish the coffee community, from farmers to roasters, can overcome these bad days.”