How Coffee Became The World’s Energy Drink

Michael Tchong

Starbucks Aruba
The Starbucks store, pictured above, is located in Aruba. It was the second Starbucks outlet located in the Caribbean. From tropical islands to cruise ships, the urge to “pump up” has turned Starbucks into a $25 billion global brand.

When USA Today reported on the launch of a Starbucks store on the Allure Of The Seas cruise ship, it included a reader poll to gauge interest in the idea. Fully 64% voted for more Starbucks stores on cruise ships.

The growing interest in coffee can be seen in this Google Trends chart, which shows that interest in coffee has surged 32% since 2004:

In March 2010, the residents of Murcia in Spain launched a Facebook campaign to attract a Starbucks coffee store to its town, thereby joining the now 24,000 restaurants worldwide, with an outpost of the global barista. As the U.K. Guardian put it, “Although Spaniards have long had a variety of good quality coffee on hand at almost every street corner café, Starbucks has already established 76 outlets in Spain and continues to expand there.”

Starbucks store on the AllureIn October 2010, Starbucks launched its first coffee store on the cruise ship Allure of the Seas. Fully 64% of respondents to a USA Today reader poll agreed that they would “like to see Starbucks outlets on more cruise ships.”

Drinking coffee is a sub-trend of the Time Compression Ubertrend, which is behind the acceleration of life. Together with energy drinks, a $37 billion global business, coffee has made “energy” the watchword of this millennium.

Here are some market highlights of coffee — the world’s favorite “pump me up” beverage:

  • Market dimensions – More than 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed each day. In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that coffee retail sales had become a $70 billion global business, compared to just $30 billion a decade before.
  • Starbucks – With 2018 sales predicted to reach $24.8 billion, the Starbucks story remains startling in all aspects. In 2004, The Wall Street Journal reported that domestic coffee consumption in 2002 was down 14%, compared to the 80s, while coffeehouse sales jumped 1,200%, citing industry research firm Mintel. Starbucks’ most loyal customers consume only three of every 10 cups they drink in Starbucks stores, yet there are about 40 billion servings of coffee sold in the U.S. each year.
  • McDonald’s – In October 2006, Starbucks annouced it planned to open 40,000 outlets worldwide, which would let it surpass McDonald’s as the world’s largest food chain. Not surprisingly, McDonald’s struck back with its own coffee and McCafé stores but, as Bloomberg reports, the company’s hot espresso drinks haven’t caught on and many franchisees balked at remodeling costs and buying $13,000 espresso machines.
Nespresso BoutiqueThe global interest in coffee has led Nestlé to open 300 Nespresso Coffee Boutiques worldwide, including six in the U.S. Shown above is the Nespresso Boutique in New York’s Soho. A company spokesperson observes that “what’s happening to coffee today is much like what happened to wine in the 1980s.”

The success of Starbucks was further cemented by embracing a host of innovations. It was the first restaurant to offer free Wi-Fi, mobile apps and digital payments, while also providing rank-and-file employees healthcare benefits. And as Social Media Today reports, it also “crushes it on social media.”

Add another shot to my grande, barista, no make that a venti! And, hurry, because I’m late for yoga!

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Michael Tchong

Michael is a professional trend forecaster and founder of four ahead-of-the-wave startups. He’s also a top-rated innovation and trends speaker, and an adjunct professor of innovation and social media at the University of San Francisco. Follow him by clicking these buttons: