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The decline in US coffee consumption

Americans are drinking half the coffee they did in the 40s

Hmm. Not sure that’s something I would measure by the gallon to be honest. American coffee used to be famously awful – weak. Now it’s less so – note, only less so.

lb of beans per capita sounds like a better measure to me – could be the same result, sure, but gallons, given possible changes in strength, seem the wrong measure.

14 thoughts on “The decline in US coffee consumption”

  1. Are those wicked rebels reverting to the tea consumption that they so wrongfully abandoned.

    Or is it just that Starbucks’ coffee and service has got so lousy!!

  2. Lots more espresso based coffees? Similar quantity of beans but significantly less volume of actual coffee?

  3. The US coffee clones are just awful. Boiled coffee=puke.
    If I drink coffee when I’m out somewhere I try and find a little local caff that knows how to make it. If it’s run by a little old Italian lady I’ll probably stay a week…

  4. Starbucks coffee and service were always lousy. Apparently, being served by an indolent, pink-haired hipster in an off-hand and supercilious manner was an integral part of the brand. But Covid really did for them – our local Starbucks has never recovered from the mass-formation-hysteria which permeated the staff, and is now often closed for counter service for days at a time, or is online-order or drive-thru only. Half the staff are still wearing masks. They are being driven to the wall by both independent and franchise shops – Tim Horton’s will sell you a big cup of freshly-brewed coffee for $1.06 without all the insufferable hipster trappings. Their donuts are crap, tho’. McDonalds coffee is surprisingly-good, and they are trying for the cafe-lounge vibe to compete with the likes of Starbucks – but most of their coffee is still drive-thru.

    US restaurant coffee is not “weak” so much as that consumers prefer very mildly-flavoured blends, that you can drink a lot of without getting a fearsome headache. But there’s a fancy coffee shop on every corner if you’re all about the half-caf soy latte and all like that.



  5. “US restaurant coffee is not “weak” so much”

    My claim is a little different. That 40 and 50 years ago it was and now isn’t so much.

  6. @ourgracioushost – I think you are probably right. I think it’s also regional – restaurant coffee in Colorado is often a lot different than restaurant coffee in New Jersey.



  7. The only reason why I would go into a Starbucks would be to use the loo, so my association between Starbucks and piss goes further than their coffee.

  8. One of the great lessons of my first trip to the US was what great hypocrites they were in the matter of food and drink. I had never had any coffee so awful as their standard “Joe”. Utter filth. Yet they mocked coffee in Britain which at least managed to be erratic in standard.

    The only good things in the everyday American diet were (i) Workingmen’s food – burgers and franks were remarkable value, (ii) Blueberry pie, (iii) freshly squeezed orange juice.

    I’d been warned that if I wanted decent beer or bacon I’d have to buy Canadian. Damn right!

  9. There’s been plenty of decent beer in the US for at least 30 years (e.g. Anchor in SF) – not from the big, obvious names, of course. But ‘real ale’ British-style doesn’t work, because the distribution is too difficult (place is too damned big).

  10. “But ‘real ale’ British-style doesn’t work, because the distribution is too difficult (place is too damned big).”

    No, it’s because nowhere has a cellar. Path dependency is a real thing.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    It’s 20 years since I was last in the States so I can’t comment on the current state of Coffee there now but I was never impressed when I was there, it was quite insipid.

    I agree with Chris, we found some quite good craft beers.

    Slightly OT but on the subject of coffee we were pleasantly surprised how good the coffee was in Scotland on our recent trip. Even the most out of the way cafe had some good, full bodied coffee that wasn’t over roasted. Much better than most of what is claimed to be coffee that gets served in England.

  12. Antoine Scrivener

    Only had brief associations with American coffee. In trying to recall them I could only come up with “forgettable”.

  13. @Tim

    You can easily recreate a ‘cellar’ with a bit of refrigeration, and plenty of British pubs serve beer straight from a barrel on top of the bar – and very good it is, too. But real ale has a finite shelf life (and doesn’t appreciate being chucked around in the back of a truck or train for a thousand miles), so US breweries are either very local (brew-pubs, mostly) or sell in bottles/cans (which can still be very good, but ain’t ‘real ale’). It’s not dissimilar to the historic problems facing national newspapers in the US, that you often point out.

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