The FINANCIAL — Coffee shops are reportedly the fastest-growing segment of the restaurant industry, yet the percentage of Americans who regularly drink coffee hasn’t budged. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults report drinking at least one cup of coffee on an average day, unchanged from 2012 and remarkably similar to the figure in 1999. Additionally, coffee drinkers currently report consuming just under three cups of coffee per day, also unchanged.
More specifically, 26% of American adults say they drink one cup of coffee on an average day, 19% drink two, 8% drink three, and 11% drink four or more. The remaining 36% drink none, according to Gallup.
In addition to the rapid growth of coffeehouses in recent decades — the number rose by 40% between 1999 and 2005 alone — advances in home brewing machines have enabled consumers to enjoy premium coffee almost anytime, anywhere. And while there are some risks associated with consuming too much caffeine, in moderation the drug is associated with improved concentration and memory as well as potentially lowering the risk of certain cancers, Parkinson’s disease and stroke.
Coffee drinkers tend to be older, with 74% of adults aged 55 and older consuming it daily, versus 50% of those aged 18 to 34. Among coffee drinkers, those younger than 35 tend to drink fewer cups per day on average (1.8) than those aged 35 and older, who consume roughly three cups per day. Fewer lower-income than higher-income Americans drink coffee, but lower-income coffee drinkers consume more cups per day than higher-income coffee drinkers (3.8 vs. 2.4 cups, on average).
Additionally, whites tend to drink more coffee than nonwhites, and those living in the East and Midwest drink a bit more than those in the West, but there are minimal differences in consumption by gender, education and employment status.
A Pleasant Addiction?
According to WebMD, caffeine can cause “mild physical dependence,” and caffeine withdrawal can result in a temporary period of headaches, fatigue, irritability and depressed mood. About one in four coffee drinkers may be familiar with these symptoms, as 26% consider themselves addicted to coffee.
How much coffee does it take to become addicted? Only 10% of those who drink one cup a day consider themselves addicted, but this jumps to 29% among those who enjoy two cups and to 46% among those who have three or more.
Still, just 10% of all coffee drinkers would like to cut back, suggesting that most coffee addicts aren’t suffering ill effects from it — at least nothing that a cup of coffee can’t fix. And there is no difference in desire to curtail consumption between light versus heavy coffee drinkers, or even between self-described coffee addicts and all others.
In contrast, Gallup typically finds seven in 10 smokers saying they are addicted to cigarettes and about the same proportion saying they would like to quit.