The Impact of Remote Work on American Coffee Consumption
Before the pandemic, an at-home latte or americano was a morning luxury reserved for the wealthy or the retired. Most folks only got their mid-morning caffeine hit when they reached the office and poured a fresh cup from the drip coffee machine.
But now, almost anyone who works from home has a coffee machine on standby to draw their favorite morning beverage — and the thought of going back to office filtered coffee probably makes them shudder.
The rise of remote work has driven a surge in the coffee industry. Americans want great coffee at their fingertips and are usually prepared to pay a premium for great grounds and state-of-the-art espresso machines.
According to data collected by the National Coffee Association (NCA), 85% of people now drink at least one cup of coffee at home. This signals an 8% increase in the number of people who drink a cup of joe compared to pre-pandemic levels. The NCA report also found the average consumption of two cups per capita has remained steady during the pandemic.
The fact that remote workers want to drink good coffee while working from home is understandable. Working from home can take a toll on employees’ mental health, as remote workers may not benefit from socialization and work for extended periods in relative isolation. While a good cup of coffee doesn’t make up for real mental-health support, it can be a small pick-me-up that helps them get through the day.
The desire for better coffee is also reflected in the data. A recent research report found that 32% of remote workers decided to upgrade their coffee machines during the pandemic, as many remote workers are asking more from their coffee set-up than ever before. This had led to greater experimentation amongst remote workers and a boom in the industry that supports at-home brewing.
Remote work has increased the sheer quantity of coffee being drunk in American homes. But, the NCA report also shows that people don’t just want more coffee — they want better coffee, too. 40% of Americans bought coffee that they had tried before while working remotely, and are willing to experiment with anything from a pour-over to a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee pod.
Facilitating greater experimentation means that remote workers in the U.S. have invested serious cash into their coffee bars. Even folks who live in small city apartments have arranged espresso bars to organize all their creamers, grounds, and filters. These coffee bars can be moved around the house and taken on wheels, meaning remote workers in the U.S. can enjoy the sunshine while working and sipping a good cup of coffee.
The research report also found that remote workers enjoy experimenting at home, but like getting a cup to go, too. 72% of remote employees say that journeying out of the house for their favorite brew helps break up the day. Millennials are particularly keen to get out and enjoy a great quality cup of coffee, even as the average price of a cup increases across the country.
As a result, coffee shops themselves have become more niche to fulfill the needs of pickier consumers. Remote workers can already get an “OK” cup of coffee at home, so when they go out, they are expecting a cup of joe that has stand-out attributes like better quality beans or great service.
Operating during the pandemic was tough on almost all service-industry businesses. Brick-and-mortar coffee shops particularly struggled as the pandemic resulted in an $11.5bn decline in sales. As a result, plenty of otherwise lucrative businesses went under due to necessary restrictions.
However, the rise of remote working offers a significant silver lining for coffee shops that made it through the pandemic. Remote workers can set up shop wherever they want and aren’t shy when it comes to taking their work with them. As a result, many coffee shops across the nation have gained a loyal fleet of customers who work and drink coffee in their establishment.
Adapting to the new consumer market requires resilience and flexibility on the part of coffee shops. Coffee shops that want to welcome their doors to remote workers should consider upgrading their in-house experience to provide a relaxed environment with consistent access to good Wi-Fi. This will attract remote workers who want to pitch up for an afternoon and ensure that they keep coming back during their work week.
However, the future of coffee requires greater flexibility than ever before. Above all else, remote workers require convenience, as they cannot usually interrupt their workflow while waiting for their drink to arrive. Fortunately, most coffee shops can take advantage of existing infrastructure via apps like UberEats, DoorDash, and Postmates. These apps ensure that coffee shops can reach remote workers who can’t leave their homes and provide a welcome boost to sales and revenue.
Coffee culture is booming in America. Remote working has helped improve the quality of coffee folks across the U.S. drink at home. Brick and mortar coffee shops also show strong signs of recovery, as remote workers who want to break up their day head to their local shop for a great roast and good company.