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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Coffee for the Ages?

Are you with it? Do you keep up with your peers? If we’re talking coffee, there’s an easy way to find out.

If you’re a “Millennial,” you’d be one of the 78% who say they drink coffee. You may also be among the 47% who say they do so each day.

Your peer group is bigger if you’re part of Generation X. Eighty-five percent say they’re coffee drinkers, 68% of them sipping daily. Among Baby Boomers, 86% say they enjoy coffee, 72% of them each day. If you’re a more mature consumer, then you may be one of the 90% who tip a mug to coffee or even among the 80% who do so daily.

These data come from NCA’s annual National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) consumer survey. This week, NCA is releasing Coffee Across Generations, an NCDT series report that digs deeply into the differences in habits, behaviors and attitudes of consumers of the widely recognized generational age groupings.

By the way, if you’re like most of us, by now you’re wondering where you fit in. Here’s the statistical scoop. Standard demographic descriptions make you a Millennial if you were born between 1979 and 1997, while GenXers date back to between 1965 and 1978, while Baby Boomers came on the scene between 1946 and 1964.

Other Data
If you prefer gourmet coffee beverages, your peer groups differ. While overall coffee consumption skews older, gourmet coffee beverage consumption trends younger. Seventy-four percent of Millennials said they’ve consumed a gourmet coffee beverage within the past year. That compares with 72% of GenXers, 59% of Baby Boomers, and 53% of the more mature.

When it comes to brewing, there are generational distinctions as well. Younger consumers are more apt to jump on the single-cup bandwagon, with a larger number saying they’d be likely to buy one. The more mature groups are more likely to use a drip coffee maker, while younger coffee drinkers say they prefer espresso machines and ready-to-drink coffee.

Specifically, 62% of the more mature group says they use a drip coffee maker, compared with 53% of Millennials. And, even though 90% of matures say they’re aware of single-cup brewers versus 76% of Millennials, about one-quarter of Millennials and GenXers say they’d be likely to buy a single-cup brewer, whereas just 12% of Baby Boomers and 8% of the more mature said the same.

Other data in the report span a wide array of consumption choices, patterns, frequency and attitudes. The detailed tracking data broken out by group includes: consumption time of day, share of cups of gourmet versus non-gourmet coffee, home versus out-of home consumption, place of preparation and consumption, breakouts of coffee types and gourmet sub-types, coffee additive preferences, coffee and health attitudes, workplace coffee satisfaction, packaging format, and, for single-cup brewers, the time owned, types of beverages made, and quality attitudes.

So, when you pick up that next cup of coffee, you’ll have a better idea of where you fit in – that is, when it comes to your coffee drinking habits. Even better, if you’re a marketer, you’ll know who to target and how. That’s where the value of market research moves from personal discovery to professional development and commercial success. Learn more about Coffee Across Generations and other National Coffee Drinking Trends market research reports at

New Report: Coffee Cuts Endometrial Cancer Risk

A newly released scientific report links coffee with a protective effect against endometrial cancer. The report, published this week by the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund International, says that coffee drinking is one of several lifestyle and diet changes that can help women prevent the disease, also known as uterine cancer.

Analyzing results from eight independent scientific studies, the report concludes that one cup of coffee per day is associated with a 7% decreased risk of developing the disease. All of the analyzed studies found a decreased risk for higher versus lower levels of coffee consumption.

The report also noted the findings of two other published meta-analyses that found a statistically significant decreased risk of endometrial cancer for the highest coffee drinkers as compared with the lowest. A meta-analysis is a study that incorporates data from multiple pieces of research to amplify the scope and statistical significance of the findings.

The analysis also examined several pieces of research on decaffeinated coffee. The cumulative results showed that there was an overall 8% decreased risk of endometrial cancer per one cup per day.

According to the AARP Blog, endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system, and the 49,600 annual cases outnumber ovarian and cervical cancers combined. Endometrial cancer primarily affects women over age 60, and claims 8,000 lives each year.

The report also discussed how coffee might deliver the protection they found. Several “mechanisms” were suggested, including the work of several of the chemical compounds found in coffee. Among them is chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to have strong antioxidant properties that can prevent damage to DNA, as well as improve insulin sensitivity and inhibit sugar uptake in the intestines.

The impact on sugar uptake is significant because excess insulin has been associated with the growth of endometrial cancer cells. Both regular and decaffeinated coffees have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and so reduce insulin levels in the blood. Other, indirect mechanisms were also discussed, such as coffee’s suppression of a hormone that elevates estrogen levels in the blood.

Other Factors
Other factors cited in the report for reducing the risk of endometrial cancer include regular exercise, weight maintenance and avoidance of sugary drinks. The report notes that there is a strong link between obesity and cancer that is especially strong for endometrial cancer. Dr. Elisa Bandera, a Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey epidemiologist who helped lead the study, noted in an NBC News interview that obese women have two to three times the rate of endometrial cancer.

The report says that three out of every five cases of the disease could be prevented if women kept a healthy weight, got at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, avoided sugary drinks and processed snack foods, and drank coffee.

The authors of the report – World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research, Continuous Update Project Report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Endometrial Cancer, 2013 – state as their conclusion that “There is a substantial amount of epidemiological evidence, which is consistent, and there is a dose-response relationship. There is evidence for biological plausibility. Coffee probably protects against endometrial cancer.”

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Defining Sustainability

With climate change and environmental disasters such as the Fukushima reactor meltdown and the Gulf oil spill making international headlines, “sustainability” has become a media buzzword. It’s also bandied about in connection with agricultural methods that preserve the land, market conditions that enable producers to support their families and cultures, and technologies that foster a healthy supply of quality products.

It’s also being discussed in probably every boardroom of every major corporation in the U.S. and beyond. There is enormous pressure on industries to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability as a key element of responsible corporate citizenship. As the public becomes ever more aware of cultural, environmental and socioeconomic issues in the developing world, the pressure to deploy sustainable programs and strategies continues to ramp up.

But, what does “sustainability” really mean? You’ve probably heard the word at least 100 times already this month, or read it in online or in print media without giving its fundamental definition a second thought.

Generation Y’s preferred source for quick information – Wikipedia – simply and dismissively defines “sustainability” as: “the capacity to endure.” However, the grammarians and scholars at Merriam-Webster go much further, defining “sustainable” (from which “sustainability” is derived) as: “relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”

Merriam-Webster’s definition is appropriately open-ended since “resource” can include people, the land, the environment, natural resources, cultures and social institutions. It also embraces the many individual elements that comprise the concept. For the coffee industry and its executives, the definition embraces the crucial components of a sustainable coffee supply chain – the well-being of farmers, long-term support for their families and communities, safe and healthy agricultural methods and outcomes, and an ample supply of quality coffees produced in a responsible way.

Barring some dramatic societal and cultural shifts, there will always be a consumer demand for coffee. However, ongoing environmental and natural threats in coffee-producing regions, such as the specter of coffee rust which is currently plaguing Central America, are serious threats to the long-term health of coffee production. Thus, it’s our responsibility to ensure a sustainable supply of quality coffees for years to come. That is the underlying goal of NCA’s sustainability initiatives – to ensure the future of the coffee industry.

NCA has brought sustainability into sharper focus in 2013, developing the following mission statement earlier this year:

Ensure that coffee is grown and traded in a way which ensures that future generations can be sustained economically, environmentally, and socially through its production.

This summer, NCA initiated a Sustainability Task Force of industry professionals to help develop potential goals and action points.

At the meeting, participants from the private sector, non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and non-profit groups met in NCA’s New York offices to start the ball rolling. The goal was to gather input and exchange ideas, and address several basic questions. What does sustainability mean to you? How can NCA help you achieve your sustainable development goals and objectives?

Going forward, the task force will convene periodically, seeking to define NCA’s role more precisely as a facilitator and center of knowledge for coffee sustainability. In the meantime, NCA is working on developing an online toolkit of information, knowledge and resources for those with questions and concerns about sustainable growth.

As a matter of policy, NCA plans to use its role as the U.S. coffee industry’s pre-eminent trade association to collaborate with industry leaders and promote the long-term sustainable growth and development of the coffee industry. NCA is committed to continuing to work to ensure that coffee production is carried out in a way that future generations can be sustained economically, environmentally and socially through its production, in line with NCA’s sustainability mission.

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Learning From the Job?

Everyone learns differently. Some prefer a classroom setting, while others like the hands-on approach. Just give me the facts, some would say, while others need context and analysis to get the whole picture. Hitting the books is one way to go, but learning on the job is another.

But, what about learning from the job? In a way, that describes the novel approach taken by NCA’s Coffee Summit. Rather than sit through long presentations filled with facts, figures – and, oh yes, charts – coffee professionals convene around current topics as well as issues they bring to the table. Rather than getting textbook pablum and theory, they come away with real-time solutions to real-life issues they face in their businesses each day.

How? By participating in an interactive, collaborative setting blended with expert insights into timely industry topics. This year’s Summit covers the hot-button topics of the exploding single-cup segment, the growing challenges of a sustainable supply chain, and techniques for managing risk in a volatile market.

Experts share their knowledge, but then the floor is open for professionally facilitated collaborative discussions. By sharing individual knowledge, experiences and perspectives, participants can turn the facts and figures into solutions and strategies. In other words, the learnings are filtered through the realities of business applications to yield practical, deployable solutions.

The process is deceptively simple, yet richly complex. Summit participants come from all sectors and niches along the supply chain, each bringing their unique body of knowledge, skills and approaches. Together, they can examine an issue from all angles – seeing how the problems trickle up or down or present themselves differently to professionals in different roles. In other words, the issue to a roaster may look quite different from the purview of a supplier or importer/exporter – and the solution to the problem may lie in seeing the problem in a different way.

On top of this collaboration on topical issues, the Summit also incorporates the effective technique of “open-space learning.” Dedicated sessions are set aside to enable participants to bring their own “big questions” to the table to be dissected and debated by the group. In this way, that elusive solution you’ve been seeking for a nettling problem may emerge from collaborating with other coffee professionals who see it from a different angle. And, in the professionally facilitated sessions, groups are put together in various ways – around common questions, at random, or to achieve a cross-section of roles. Others are self-directed by participants themselves.

Past experience has shown that the format really pays off. Among attendee comments was that the format offered a chance to interface with colleagues they wouldn’t ordinarily get to talk to – like a roaster sitting down with his supplier’s logistics pro, or a retailer chatting with his wholesaler’s packager. Participants found this intermingling to be a unique opportunity that was both an eye- and door-opening.

Other feedback noted the extraordinary networking the format allows. With multiple pairings among groups, attendees are brought into constant, rotating contact with others. One participant noted that it was the only meeting at which he got to meet every other attendee.

This year’s NCA Coffee Summit takes place on October 2 – 4 at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. Speakers include Ross Colbert, Global Strategist Beverages Sector at Rabobank International covering developments in the single-serve segment and Tracy Ging, Director of Sustainability at S&D Coffee, presenting on the challenges of a sustainable supply chain.

So, if you have a business challenge that needs fixing, you may want to jump in and learn from the job in this novel new approach to learning.

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