We sit around and talk about the most arcane stuff here at the NPD Foodservice Global HQ. One thing that comes up a lot is coffee. Sure, we like to drink it. I have personally used a Nestlé Nespresso machine for the past 5 years to great satisfaction. All restaurants love to sell it because it’s so profitable, and, as the fourth largest item in the US foodservice market, there is always lots of stuff happening with it. So, the idea that there are certain times of day to drink coffee began to ping around in my head the other day and I wondered if consumers in every country did it the same way. They don’t.
The chart below highlights three distinct patterns of coffee drinking by clock time in China, France, and Italy. If I were to show all ten countries that NPD foodservice market research tracks there would be ten fairly distinct patterns.
For the Italians, coffee appears to be purely and simply a morning drink. Yes, they drink it at other times of the day but the share of servings that occur before 10 a.m. is considerable.
For the French, they too drink it in the morning but the distinct bumps are at noon and then again in the late afternoon. Maybe the idea here is to have it as a lunch drink and then another to tide them over until dinner time.
For the Chinese, who are far less likely to drink coffee than consumers in any other country we track, coffee has some role in the morning but it’s really an afternoon snack.
For those unfamiliar with the foodservice business, coffee seems to be, well, just coffee. Perhaps this is an appropriate point of view if you are from the retail food market. From the foodservice perspective, however, the “coffee-ness” of the product is only one element. The common element of coffee drinkers around the world is that it is consumed as a “pick me up” for sure, but when and where one wants to be picked up depends on your point of view.