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Coffee, new Global Breakfast Trends and their Economic Impacts

People across the planet, from Finland to Turkey to the United States, love their coffee. However, here in the second decade of the 21st century, many countries are witnessing a change in their breakfast eating patterns. Since coffee is most commonly drunk with (or even “as”) breakfast, this is having a direct effect on the coffee industry.

One trend in breakfast consumption that’s remaining the same, however, is the United States’ long-standing love affair with coffee (although Scandinavians, Canadians, and Brazilians drink even more of it per capita). According to data compiled by ReportLinker, American coffee consumption is on the rise and expected to keep rising and reach 29 millions of 60kg bags consumed by 2021.

This is good news for Starbuck’s: the US has more Starbuck’s outlets than any other nation, and is second only behind tiny Monaco for the densest concentration of those coffee bars.

It’s also good news for Brazil. Brazil remains, easily, the world’s biggest exporter of coffee. In the 1920s, that country supplied 80% of the world’s coffee. Nearly 100 years later, that figure has diminished, as it now supplies between 30 and 35 percent. Still, with a much bigger human population now than there was back then, coffee exports remain a huge factor in Brazil’s economy.

But, the boom in American coffee consumption is not such good news for the orange juice industry. Given that people are pressed for time on weekday mornings as they get ready for work and/or help get their children ready for school, they often want to grab something quick and easy for breakfast. Because of coffee’s caffeine rush, people will usually choose it over orange juice (another beverage most often drunk with breakfast). This helps explain why American orange juice consumption has reduced dramatically since the mid-1990s and is forecasted to continue its decline.

In the midst of all this is one seemingly anomalous trend in the UK. Decaffeinated coffee sales surged enormously  in 2006 and 2007 to reach €36.3K , but have since fallen off substantially to €14.6K in 2016. Was there a surge because people in the UK become concerned about caffeine consumption? And, has there since been a decline because many have stopped taking that concern so seriously?

People, we can conclude, aren’t too worried about caffeine consumption and its negative side effects. But, they are in search of a healthy but quick ‘n’ easy breakfast, especially during the week. So-called “functional breakfasts” that can be made quickly the night before are trending sharply upward now. Chief among them are overnight oats, frittatas, and green juice blends. Avocado toast, which packs in more flavor and more nutrition than regular toast, and protein pancakes (especially loved by the aging Baby Boomers and the youngest adults) make big surges on the weekend. So do thick smoothies.

What does this quest for the fast ‘n easy but energizing breakfast mean for coffee consumption trends? Considering that coffee is also a fast ‘n’ easy fix, and gives (the illusion of) energy, it’s quite likely to fit right in with today’s emergent breakfast trends.