Special Report

America's Favorite Coffees

Americans love their coffee. Three-quarters of adults drink coffee and 58% say they drink coffee daily, according to the National Coffee Association. Like other large consumer products in the U.S., a substantial number of brands vie for market share — and for profit. And like other food and beverage products, each brand tries to distinguish itself for consumers based on taste, price, and in some cases, snob appeal.

Based on 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most popular coffee brands that people make themselves. The seven coffee companies with scores above the coffee product average measured by Harris, did well based on familiarity, quality, purchase consideration and the ability to generate buzz.

Green Mountain coffee brand topped the list. Its parent company, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, is often viewed as a competitor to Starbucks, which did not make the list. In fact, the brands that are rated below average are probably better known than those rated above average.The losers include Chock Full O’Nuts, Nescafe, Newman’s Own, Seattle’s Best, and Starbucks.

Because Harris is not the only research firm that polls people on coffee preferences, we looked at other opinion studies, including one by Consumer Reports. Oddly enough, its preference ratings put Starbucks’ house blend as the highest rated brand. The differences in the results show how unpredictable research is when consumer preferences are considered.

Because of this, 24/7 also looked beyond subjective measures of preference. We looked at price, based on the assumption that many coffee drinkers consider value. We also examined annual revenue of each brand, as well as the number of bags sold last year. We discovered that the most favored brands are not inexpensive. Folgers Ground Coffee and Green Mountain, two of the most preferred brands, cost well over $7 per bag. Millstone and Eight O’Clock, while still popular, are less preferred, and each of these costs little more than $5 per bag

The relationship of price to quality perception should not come as a surprise. Starbucks has made a fortune selling expensive coffee at trendy stores. Its customers are not complaining that their $3 cup of coffee costs twice as much as it does at the neighborhood deli

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings of coffee brands, which quantifies brand strength among consumers, to identify the most popular coffees. We included dollar sales, change in dollar sales from one year ago and unit sales of bagged ground coffee over the latest 52-week period in the United States provided by SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm. The group’s data reflects sales at supermarkets, drugstores, gas/convenience stores and mass market retailers, but excludes Walmart club stores, and liquor stores.

These are America’s favorite coffees.

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