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U.S. Coffee Consumption Has Dropped More Than 50% In 70 Years

coffee-beans-cup

AEI’s Mark Perry passes along this chart based on data from the Dept. of Agriculture that coffee consumption among American adults has dropped from a high a 45 gallons per adult to less than 20 gallons per adult per year today, a level lower than it has been since the beginning of the 20th Century.

coffee

Some of you need to step up your game.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. beth says:

    Wow, and with a Starbucks on nearly every corner too. Do you think that people are just buying themselves one cup at a time at the nearest coffee place and not buying and brewing large pots at home anymore? This really surprised me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Scott says:

    This surprised me also since apparently I drink more than my share. I wonder how much of the decline are due to caffeine substitutes: soda, energy drinks, and tea. Just think how much the decline would be if khat was legalized.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. michael reynolds says:

    But the consumption of steamed milk is way up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. john personna says:

    @beth:

    There was a lot of waste in those large pots. Consumption may not have been that directly measured.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. @michael reynolds:

    This. People aren’t drinking less coffee, it’s just that the average coffee has much less actual coffee in it now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    A “shot” actually takes a lot of coffee, dry weight, to make.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. @john personna:

    Yes, but the chart is measured in liquid volume, not dry weight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. john personna says:

    BTW, a one-cup melitta cone filter is about the best and most efficient method out there.

    (Depending on your audience, call it a cone filter, or a #pourover)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Seriously? How do you think they come up with that?

    (It is surely a guestimate based on pounds dry beans sold.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Franklin says:

    Graph doesn’t start at zero. Therefore, it’s useless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  11. @john personna:

    Seriously? How do you think they come up with that?

    From the data source:

    Coffee is converted to fluid equivalents on the basis of 60 6-oz. cups per pound of regular roasted coffee and 187.5 6-oz. cups per pound of instant coffee.

    So the chart could just be reflecting a shift from instant coffee to more regular ground coffee.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. beth says:

    @john personna: I was assuming this graph was based on actual coffee beans sold since it’s from the Dept of Agriculture. My thought was that households were buying cans of coffee for home brewing but now they’re just buying individual cups from coffeehouses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. James Pearce says:

    Interesting…

    My theory: In the 40s and 50s, people didn’t just drink a cup of coffee in the morning. They drank it all day. At lunch, after dinner, maybe even before bed.

    Who brews a pot of coffee with dinner nowadays? Wasn’t that pretty standard practice back in the Beave’s younger days?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. john personna says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Thanks for that legwork.

    @beth:

    Sure. I’m just thinking that SB sells every cup they make, in most locations, and seldom pours a pot down the drain. I think in the days of the percolator that happened more.

    But who knows, I do meet a lot of people who tell me (preposterously!) that I should drink less coffee. So maybe the low-consumers are out there too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. @James Pearce:

    Fair point. I remember when I was growing up that coffee with dinner was a pretty common thing in my family at least. That was in the 70s though.

    As for myself I don’t think I’ve had coffee with dinner in ages.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Kolohe says:

    Coffee defeats Nazis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. john personna says:

    Coffee is converted to fluid equivalents on the basis of 60 6-oz. cups per pound of regular roasted coffee

    If my calculations are correct, I get between 40 and 50 of those 6-oz cups of coffee per pound of roast coffee.

    Perhaps people were drinking it stronger, like me, back in the old days (factoring in different brewing methods as well).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. beth says:

    @john personna: Ha, my husband insisted on one of those for a while. They made great coffee but I just wasn’t awake enough to have the hand-eye coordination necessary to make a pot without spilling it until I’d had a cup of coffee. See the problem?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Pinky says:

    Parents of baby boomers operating on zero sleep. I mean, look at the graph. Those few years were when they were all born.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. john personna says:

    @beth:

    You know you aren’t awake when you pour the whole beans in the coffee cup instead of the grinder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. PJ says:

    @Franklin:

    Graph doesn’t start at zero. Therefore, it’s useless.

    I’m pretty certain that they didn’t drink a lot of coffee back in 0 BC.

    ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Franklin says:

    @PJ: There’s someone in every bunch …

    So, anyway, I don’t really care about coffee much since I don’t drink it and people who do drink it don’t cause any problems except for stinky breath.

    BUT, if you want to see a graph about consumption that is actually important, Google for “sugar consumption by year”. It’s important to all of us since we are now officially sharing healthcare costs, and sugar causes a lot of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  23. Mr. Coffee says:

    It’s the distribution system.
    If only the Tree Huggers would let me build the Java Joe Pipeline the world would be a better place!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. James Pearce says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I remember when I was growing up that coffee with dinner was a pretty common thing in my family at least. That was in the 70s though.

    My Dad used to drink it all day, but that can only be maintained for so many years before you dry out and start turning inside out. The old aunts and uncles used to drink it almost like a desert. Dinner, then coffee. They drank it in the morning too.

    I’m pretty sure all the cousins only drink it in the morning, like me. Coffee, at night? No wonder Johnny Carson was so popular.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce: Coffee with dessert is pretty standard for me and my friends when we dine out. On the other hand, I dine out less than almost anyone I know, so I’m not doing my part for the National Consumption.

    I think the folks who are talking about wasted coffee in the past are probably close to the mark. Coffee used to be a staple, like flour or sugar. (Look up the provisions the Lewis and Clark expedition took with them, and what fraction of it by weight was coffee.) It was made in percolators, and leftovers were dumped as casually as we dump the pasta water. Now that coffee is expensive (by choice), we don’t do that so much any more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Andre Kenji says:

    @Mr. Coffee: Hate us. Here in Brazil we plant coffee trees in our gardens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Mr. Coffee says:

    …but that can only be maintained for so many years before you dry out and start turning inside out.

    Well I’m doomed. I go out alot to watch sports since my TV at home doesn’t get any channels.
    Just had 4 cups of Rocket Fuel and 8 Chicken Wings watching the Bulls at one Beanery and about 4 more cups of Worm Dirt and a piece of Garlic Toast at another Hash House watching the ends of 3 different NCAAM Conference Tournament contests in the last 4 hours.
    This on top of the several 50 cent doses of Senior Swill I got at the Micky D’s along the route of a day trip I had to run earlier.
    Even at that it’s all I can do to keep from falling asleep driving a few miles home when the games are over.

    http://www.coffee.org/blog/20-slang-terms-for-coffee/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Mr. Coffee says:

    @Andre Kenji: Hate us.

    Not a chance.
    I still have this on the vinyl I bought when I was in High School in 1964.
    Why isn’t this your National Anthem?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5QfXjsoNe4

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. grumpy realist says:

    Well, considering what used to be served as coffee in the US…..

    I don’t remember my parents drinking coffee at any point except in the morning.

    The greatest invention in the world (IMHO) was decaf. I can brew myself a nice cup of coffee at night and not worry about bouncing off the walls the entire rest of the evening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. john personna says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    You should get a civet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. rudderpedals says:

    @john personna: You should get a civet.

    The Accord’s a bit nicer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0