Will America’s Newest Java Obsession Dethrone National Coffee Brands?

Will America’s Newest Java Obsession Dethrone National Coffee Brands?

By Jessica Bryant, Managing Editor

Big things are happening in the brew world, and we’re not just talking about craft beer. America’s specialty coffee movement, also known as the “third wave of coffee,” is that which brings appreciation to artisanal coffee and all that comes with it — from equipment and aesthetics, to humane production practices.

According to a 2014 infographic by the National Coffee Association, 34 percent of Americans consume gourmet coffee beverages daily. The majority of these daily gourmet coffee drinkers are 25-39 years old. In December 2014, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) estimated the retail value of the U.S. coffee market at $46B, with specialty coffee making up more than half (51 percent) in volume share and even more than that (55 percent) in value share.

Some of the biggest retail players in specialty coffee right now are Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, Stumptown, Intelligentsia, and Sightglass. Three in the bunch — Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, and Sightglass — are all based in the Bay Area. So, despite an “11 of the World’s Best Cities for Coffee Lovers” roundup on Matador Network earlier this year, which listed only Sacramento and Denver for U.S. cities, we can’t help but wonder: Is San Francisco brewing as a new epicenter for artisan coffee? And beyond that, are artisan coffee brands primed to overtake national java brands?

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