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How are Canadians consuming coffee during COVID?

Consumption has remained steady, but there has been a ‘big shift’ from out-of-home to in-home drinking

Shutterstock/Aleksandra SuziShutterstock/Aleksandra Suzi

Home has become ground(s) zero for coffee consumption during the current COVID-19 crisis, according to a new study.

While Canada’s coffee addicts might argue that they are essential services, the country’s largest coffee chains have either limited access or closed stores entirely as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. That has led to a “big shift” from out-of-home to in-home consumption, according to Field Agent Canada.

In a recent survey of 700 Canadians, more than three-quarters of respondents (79%) identified as regular coffee drinkers. Coffee consumption has remained stable during the pandemic, at an average of 2.4 servings a day.

But while 91% of Canadians were consuming coffee purchased outside the home prior to the enforcement of social distancing rules, that number has fallen to 46% amid social-distancing requirements.

One of the most pronounced changes in at-home consumption has been the rise of instant coffee, with 25% of respondents saying they have used it at home in the past week. It is the biggest segment among respondents who indicated that they have tried new coffee drinks during the stay-at-home period, ahead of cappuccino, drip coffee and lattes.

Tim Hortons is the most frequently used coffee brand at home (13%), followed by Folgers, Maxwell House, Starbucks and Nescafé (all at 8%) and Nespresso and McCafe at 7%. There has been some experimentation among coffee drinkers, however, with 11% of respondents indicating they have purchased another brand because their preferred brand was out of stock.

Ten per cent of respondents said they have purchased a brand that’s more expensive than their usual brand, while 7% said they have purchased a less expensive brand. Twelve per cent said they have experienced longer than usual wait times for online orders.

Not surprisingly, supermarkets were the most common response given to a question about where respondents had purchased coffee for home consumption (35%), followed by Costco (26%), Walmart (23%) and drug stores (7%).

Six per cent of respondents said they have purchased a new coffee machine since the crisis began, with drip coffee, Nespresso and K-Cup machines the most popular new purchases. Coffee is a $6.2 billion business in Canada, according to the Canadian Coffee Association and, along with water is the most commonly consumed beverage among adults.

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