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Everyone has a routine

Posted by Brynn Evans on Sunday, 20 September 2009

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Photo by Holas84

If I were to ask you about your coffee drinking habits, I bet you’d have a story to tell—and a story that’s unique to you. As for me: I typically drink tea at home in the mornings, but when I have coffee, I usually get it at one of San Francisco’s finest local coffee shops as part of a social affair. In other words, I get coffee to-go when I’m hanging out with friends or when I’m out running errands. And I (sadly) almost never carry a travel mug.

Yet our recent survey revealed that social coffee drinking is not the most common reason for having a cup o’ joe. The vast majority of people drink coffee in the morning as part of their wake-up-and-get-ready routine. One respondent said: “My last cup of coffee was consumed this morning as soon as I got up and before I ate anything.” Another drinks coffee “on my desk at home, just as I sit down to see my email and [begin] work.” She reminds us that she used to drink coffee socially, but in recent months is trying to “do more exciting things with friends instead.” That’s a good reason! :)

The second most common reason for drinking coffee is because people feel tired. I’m sure we’ve all felt this before! And it typically happens mid-day or sometime in the afternoon. One employee bought his most recent cup from Dunkin’ Donuts, just after lunch:

I bought a coffee because I was at work and needed a pick-me-up that wouldn’t add bloat, like cola does. I have a good Bunn coffee maker at home and a nice thermos, but for some reason, I like drinking Dunkin’ Donuts…maybe it’s the spout cups.

This example also reminds us that people have preferences in what type of coffee they drink. Some feel connected to brands (Folgers, Starbucks, or a regular store brand). Others have specific drink preferences. The most common drinks were:

  • coffee with milk
  • plain black coffee
  • lattes

…Although others had specialty drinks associated with certain coffee joints! One person reported:

From Starbucks: Grande Pike Place or House roast in a venti cup, 2 shots hazelnut + topped with 2% milk;
From Office Tower Cafe: Large 3-shot Americano w/ hazelnut & milk;
And at home: Medium roast beans freshly ground (coarse setting) & made in my French press with milk & 1 spoon of brown sugar.

Still others noted that they have a different drinks at different times of the day. For example, “mornings: small caffe latte; afternoons: single espresso short pull.”

It’s fascinating to hear about everyone’s routines—however unique they are—because at the end of the day, people are surprisingly consistent! People tend to drink coffee to help them wake up in the mornings, when they begin feeling tired in the afternoons, and occasionally as a social lubricant. People are also particular in the brands they choose, the type of coffee they drink, and even their coffee choices as a function of time of day.

If the betacup were to support all these different behaviors, what would that look like? Well for starters, it would need to be programmable to people’s different preferences. There might be a pre-set “learned” coffee drink for mornings and a separate one for afternoons. Second, it would allow people to go between their favorite coffee shops and still get the benefits of their digital, smart cup. That person who visits Starbucks and Office Tower Cafe should be able to use his cup in both places. Finally, there could be rewards programs in place that vary by time of day. For example, shops could provide an extra discount on coffee or a “double punch” on the rewards card if people purchase between 6–9am, since morning-time is when most people have their first cup anyway.

Now to open this up: What is your coffee drinking routine? And how could the betacup support your way of “doing coffee”? We’d love to hear your story!

Posted in: Research findings | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment


Coffee consumption survey: Initial findings

Posted by Brynn Evans on Sunday, 30 August 2009

By Brynn Evans

A few weeks back we ran a survey asking about people’s coffee drinking habits. The point of the survey was to get a broad perspective on why, where, and how people drink their beverage of choice.

We received over 250 replies from urban and suburban people, US and non-US citizens, coffee and tea consumers, and both the make-it-at-home and always-purchase-out crowds. Thanks to everyone who contributed! In the coming weeks, we’ll review selected findings from our preliminary analysis of this data set. It should be noted that this survey represents the preliminary stage in a much larger research process.

Our goal, instead of relying on the survey as an exclusive source of data, is to use our results to inform future in-store observations and interviews with coffee consumers. Many critical insights will only come from directly observing consumer interactions in coffee shops, with cashiers, baristas, and other patrons. We welcome your reflection on our findings and your perspective for our future directions!

To begin with a broad overview, our data clarified some things that we has assumed were true of coffee drinkers. For example, everyone has a routine. Some people regularly have a pick-me-up beverage at home in the mornings; others wait until they arrive at work. Many also have a cup at lunch time or in the afternoons, different from their morning drink, but nevertheless part of a fairly regular routine. We also learned that the most common drink size is medium; taste and temperature are hugely important for a pleasurable experience; people develop personal attachments to their reusable mugs; and customer loyalty cards are often spurned because they’re inconvenient and difficult to remember.

Check back here in the coming weeks as we address each of these issues with more depth and clarity. In the meantime, you can find the raw data from the survey here, in case you fancied digging around.

Thank you for reading and drink sustainably!

Posted in: Research findings | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments


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