NCA Market Research Series

There’s something exciting going on. It happens each year around this time, but gets little fanfare or attention. It goes on quietly behind the scenes, but causes quite a stir when it’s done. The buzz begins in six weeks, when some key outcomes become public information.

What’s going on is an annual consumer survey that measures the U.S. coffee quotient like no other study. It tracks American coffee consumption across the category and on a pre-competitive basis. Conducted for 60+ years, it compiles the longest running historical record of changes in American coffee attitudes and behaviors.

The study is the NCA National Coffee Drinking Trends, or NCDT, which is currently in the field. Key findings are revealed at the NCA Annual Convention, taking place this year on March 21-23 in San Francisco.


The NCDT takes the pulse of American coffee consumption like no other market research study. Key measures of consumers’ overall relationship with coffee are determined through a sophisticated questionnaire administered online to a demographically correct sampling of American consumers. Results are tabulated, analyzed and presented in targeted NCA Market Research Series reports.

Many variables are tracked and logged consistently across the years, while other questions are newly developed or rotated in. In this way, the research preserves unique continuity while engaging important new data to jump on important developments and trends. The goal is to provide the type of information that will enable senior strategists, marketers and executives to market their brands and plan for future products.


The NCDT Report provides a broad range of key data and analysis – average daily consumption for the past day, week and year; how, where and when coffee is consumed, including both home and workplace consumption; how often coffee is consumed, during which times of day, and in what quantities; consumption by life-stage and age, and more. Also in the report are assessments of consumer attitudes about various coffee drinks, flavor additives, and the effect of the economy on U.S. coffee consumption. A full data set is also available.

Other reports in the NCA Market Research Series take deep dives into targeted areas of interest. The Single Serve Format: Evolving Perceptions, Continued Growth presents a deep analysis of consumer behavioral and attitudinal data with regard to the exploding single-serve format. Recent analysis reveals significant changes in consumer adoption and continued opportunities for growth.

The NCA Ethnicity and Coffee Report zeroes in on the fast-growing Hispanic-American population to determine distinct attitudes and behaviors. To get an accurate profile of this large and complex population, NCA selected a research sample that matched the U.S. population distribution, offered the questionnaire in English and Spanish, and further separated out data based on acculturation levels. Data on African-American consumption are also included.

Convention Sneak Peek

While the NCDT Report is published in late Spring, top-line data are pulled and fully analyzed for a sneak peek during the NCA Annual Convention. A general session graphically presenting key findings from the year’s survey will take place on Friday, March 22 at 11:10 a.m.

With this preview, along with later reports, marketers can devise brand and marketing strategies calibrated to match consumers’ preferences in real time. With the added perspective of years of consistently tracked NCDT data, they can also glean shifts and patterns that can sharpen their forward-looking strategies and competitive edge.