Consumer Research


Quantitative Study: Specialty Coffee Consumer Behaviors, Motivations, and Perceptions

A data-based study aimed at determining the specialty coffee consumer’s purchase behaviors and preferences, with a special focus on generational patterns and market segments.

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Qualitative Study: Identifying the Consumer Journey to Specialty

We followed the 2012 study with a more in-depth project, asking 12 Specialty consumers to blog about their experiences with coffee over the course of a week. We wanted to learn more, and identify specific behaviors that led to transitioning between different coffee consumption styles.

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Qualitative Study:  Consumer Behaviors, Motivations, and Perceptions

SCA brought together six focus groups in Los Angeles, California and Portland, Oregon to explore the experience of specialty coffee to those who consume it, and the qualities that make it so unique. The output was fascinating- and we began to see two distinct kinds of Specialty Coffee Consumer emerge: the Specialty Coffee Adopter and the Super Specialty Consumer.

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Financial Research

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Roaster Financial Ratio Report

The 2015 SCAA Roaster Financial Ratio Report presents a detailed analysis based on the results of a survey that was sent out to roaster retailers and wholesalers in early 2015. This report is designed to be a benchmarking tool to assess roasters’ financial performance (based on 2014 results) relative to other businesses. Details of the report reflect key operating data including financial ratios, sales mix data, and company profile information based on the results of the survey.

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Economics of the Coffee Supply Chain

 As an extension to Ric Rhinehart’s insight on the cost of a cup of coffee we continued to dig deeper into the economics of the coffee supply chain. A survey was conducted among a select group of representative SCAA members to begin gathering the average costs that drive the overall price. Our aim was to gain an illustrative understanding of the moving pieces and paint a preliminary picture. 

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Retail Sales of Cafes and Coffee Shops in Western Europe 2017

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Number of Cafes and Coffee Shops in Western Europe 2017

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2017 U.S. Specialty Coffee Consumption Trends

How many people in the United States drink specialty coffee? What is the demand for specialty coffee? How has that grown over time?

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2013 Coffee Market Retail Value Report

SCAA developed an overview of the 2013 U.S. coffee market in terms of the dollar value at retail. This analysis delves deep into the retail values at place of consumption through channels, categories, and brands.

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2016 Coffee Market Retail Value Report

SCAA developed an overview of the 2016 U.S. coffee market in terms of the dollar value at retail. This analysis delves deep into the retail values at place of consumption through channels, categories, and brands.

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Specialty Coffee Retail Sentiment Index (RSI)

SCA has developed this economic index, measuring the specialty coffee industry’s degree of optimism at the retail level. The RSI will be used as a metric in assessing and forecasting coffee’s vigor in the retail sector. Available from 2015 forward.

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SCAA Barista & Roaster Compensation Survey Report

The objective of this report is to identify salary and compensation ranges of Baristas and Roasters currently working in the coffee industry, identifying differences in compensation based on certification status with collected data including type of company, tenure in the coffee industry, supervisory responsibilities, certification/credentials, compensation, non-cash benefits, and demographic information. The SCAA invited current and former members, as well as never-before members of the association to participate in this survey. Information in this report is presented separately for Baristas and Roasters.

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Scientific Research

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Coffee Staling Report

In food science, coffee is known as a shelf stable product. This is because unlike many other food products,  it does not spoil due to enzymatic or microbial processes. However, capturing the exact nature, quantity, and rate of staling is inherently challenging due to both the diversity of flavors possible in the bean itself and to the volatility of delicious flavor and aroma compounds that contribute to the ephemeral nature of roasted coffee. This research looks into the rate of staling, if packaging type affects staling, if different coffees stale differently, among other questions.

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Coffee & Health (Literature Review)

Coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages around the world, but for many years, its effects on health have been disputed within the medical community. In recent decades, modern research has dispelled most of the myths surrounding coffee’s effects on health. The following health topics are perhaps the most discussed in association with coffee intake and are explored in this report: Mental Performance, Neurodegenerative Disorders, Alzeihemer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Sports Performance, Type II Diabetes, Liver Health Cancer, Cardiovascular Health, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Pregnancy and Fetal Health.

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Grinding Research Report

Heritage organization SCAE partnered with the Nordic Barista Cup (NBC) and sensory scientist Francisca Listov-Saabye gave SCAE an excellent second step in our research journey, targeting the murky subject of flat versus conical burrs in coffee grinding.

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The SCAE Water Chart

The new SCAE Water Chart establishes a solid framework for a unified and transparent discussion of water for coffee. The centre of this discussion revolves around the two axes alkalinity and total hardness. We have presented this booklet in order to promote a spirited exchange of ideas about the water we use for brewing within the speciality coffee community.

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SCAE European Extraction Preferences in Brewed Coffee

In 2010 the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe embarked on a study to ascertain coffee extraction preferences exhibited by consumers of filter coffee. This was the first public study of its kind since the publication of data in the United States of America in the 1960’s, under the auspices of the Coffee Brewing Centre.

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Chemical Composition Research

In research funded by heritage organization SCAE, Line Knutsson from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and CoffeeMind’s Morten Mϋnchow investigated how roast degree, extraction time and temperature affect coffee’s chemical composition.

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Why Does Water Quality Matter?

Specialty coffee depends on a combination of factors that influences overall flavour profile. Variables such as processing method, roast degree, grind size, temperature, pressure, and extraction time all play a vital role in the sensory result in the cup.

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Brand Effect in Coffee

As a specialty coffee community, we pay a lot of attention to the diverse range of tactile flavours that can be discovered in our favourite brew.

Whether at home, in a coffee shop or in the workplace, our surroundings also have a big impact on where and when we choose to savour the moment. Although personal preferences may differ, we all recognise the range of factors that in influence our purchasing decisions when it comes to coffee.

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Coffee Sustainability Catalogue 2016

A collective review of work being done around the globe to make the coffee industry sustainable. Read an interesting review of this work on SCA News here and access the full report below. 

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Coffee Production Costs and Farm Profitability: Strategic Literature Review

This review explores the costs of production for coffee farms and discovers that yield is not necessarily correlated with farm profitability.

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Blueprint for Farmworkers

A Blueprint for Farmworker Inclusion

Specialty coffee has invested and innovated continuously over more than two decades to make the coffee trade more inclusive and more equitable. However, the largest and most vulnerable group of participants in coffee supply chains—the tens of millions of wage-earning men, women, and children who work on coffee farms—have remained on the margins of those efforts.


Gender white paper

A Blueprint for Gender Equality in the Coffeelands

This resource explores the gender inequality that exists in coffee, creating inefficiencies in the value chain. Developed by the Sustainability Council, this paper asserts that the specialty coffee industry has a tremendous opportunity to minimize the gender gap in agriculture to the benefit of our specialty coffee supply and our suppliers. Learn from organizations who have already started this important work, and what you can do to work towards solutions.


Hunger White Paper

A Blueprint to End Hunger in the Coffeelands

This paper provides an overview of hunger and food insecurity in the specialty coffee industry and outlines recommendations for solving the problem with the participation of all industry partners. Learn how and why seasonal hunger affects our industry and find out more about real projects you can get involved with to actively work towards developing solutions


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A Blueprint for Coffee In A Changing Climate

This paper provides an overview of some potential impacts of climate change to the coffee value chain. It also examines some of the work being done by industry and community leaders in case studies on mitigation and adaptation strategies, and it makes recommendations for how all stakeholders in the industry can participate in building a more resilient coffee sector. 


Water White Paper

A Blueprint for Water Security - White Paper

This paper frames the global water crisis, defines key terms related to water resources at origin, explores the connections between coffee production, processing and water stewardship, highlights ongoing efforts by industry leaders for responsible water stewardship, and provides recommendations for action and further research.



Green Guide 1

Green Guide, Module 1 - Energy Use and Reduction Tips

SCAA, Green Cafe Network and the Food Service Technology Center are proud to announce a new and innovative project to guide and support café operators who want to run a greener business and potentially reduce costs in the process. The Green Guide is a series of digital booklets, published in modules that will cover key strategies for cafe operators in energy conservation, waste reduction, water conservation, and toxics reduction. Green Cafe Network is providing technical assistance for the Guide's content, with key research and expertise from the Food Service Technology Center (FSTC). 

This Module focuses on energy use and reduction tips including lighting, refrigeration, cooking appliances, auxiliary equipment and hot water systems & HVAC.

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Green Guide, Module 2 - Water Conservation Steps

Module 2 offers cafe owners cost-effective strategies to curb water waste in their cafes without reducing the quality of the coffee, the performance of the equipment, the cleanliness of the kitchen, or the overall customer experience. Tips cover performing a water assessment, identifying and preventing leaks, reverse osmosis water filtration, dish washing machines, and much more. 

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Green Guide 3

SCAA Green Guide, Module 3 - Waste Reduction

Module 3 offers cafe owners cost-effective strategies to curb the amount of waste their café’s produce. Tips cover performing a waste audit, developing a plan, engaging your staff in the effort, recycling, composting, and much more. 

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White Paper - TBL

Understanding the Triple Bottom Line

The Top 5 Business Benefits of Sustainable Practices

This free paper explores the top tangible advantages of employing a sustainable program in your business, including profits, employee loyalty, brand benefits and more by looking at practices that draw from the Triple Bottom Line: People, Profits & Planet. 


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Specialty Coffee & Water Conservation

What cafe retailers can do to curb water waste

As we look to the future, issues such as climate change and population growth present increasing challenges to our water supply - at both global and local levels. This free fact sheet looks at current water usage and opportunities for cafe retailers to support conservations efforts. Download the Specialty Coffee & Water Conservation fact sheet now.