The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) and Square, Inc. published the 2020 Square x SCA Coffee Report. In the report, it is outlined the current state of the specialty coffee industry. The report also includes insights into new trends and ways of doing business emerging as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold.
According to Peter Giuliano, Chief Research Officer at the Specialty Coffee Association, specialty coffee businesses across the country are evolving their efforts to serve communities and generate income during this unprecedented time. Surprisingly, three in four Square coffee sellers have been able to continue operating during shelter-in-place, finding ways to adapt to new circumstances.
This new way of operating also shows immense resilience and creativity, from curbside coffee pickup to grocery store-style sales, home delivery to expanded eCommerce. These new trends seem to represent more than a brief moment in time. They show a greater transformation of the specialty coffee industry and a new way that coffee shops work within the communities they serve.
As specialty coffee businesses continue to develop, one quick pivot includes increasing delivery and takeaway alternatives. The report also stated fewer cash transactions as consumers and business owners move to other forms of payment.
Key numbers from the report include:
• 5,380% increase in combined sales across curbside or pickup orders.
• 109% increase in coffee subscription sales among coffee shops that have remained active during the pandemic
• 400% increase in the number of Square coffee shops selling healthcare donation-related sales (i.e., “buy coffee for a healthcare worker”)
• A recent surge in grocery-style sales at Square coffee shops; the percentages below indicate the increase in several merchants selling each item, followed by median price per item:
– Paper towels: 1,400% increase, US$2.00
– Carton of almond milk: 1,100% increase, US$5.00
– Family meal: 1,100% increase, US$23.95
– A dozen eggs: 850% increase, US$4.00
– Toilet paper: 711% increase, US$1.50
• 26% of coffee shops were cashless (i.e., did not process any cash transactions) by late April, up from 2% in early March
Even though the coffee industry has experienced a big change over the past few months, the report said there are still some longer-term market trends holding stable amid the pandemic.
Square collected and analysed data from millions of anonymised transactions from thousands of coffee shops across the US between 2018 and 2020, where the seller was located, the total transaction amount, and the names of the purchased items. As each shop chooses its labels for its products, all of the estimates within the reports are conservative.