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NEWS: Specialty Coffee Consumption and COVID-19: The 2020 Square x SCA Coffee Report

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posted Sunday May 24, 2020 06:00 PM

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Square, Inc. and the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) released the 2020 Square x SCA Coffee Report, outlining 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. 

“Specialty coffee businesses across the country are evolving their efforts to serve communities and generate revenue during this unprecedented time. Amazingly, three in four Square coffee sellers have been able to continue operating during shelter-in-place, finding ways to adapt to their new circumstances,” said Peter Giuliano, Chief Research Officer at the Specialty Coffee Association. “This shows tremendous resilience and creativity, from curbside coffee pickup to grocery store-style sales, home delivery to expanded eCommerce. These trends seem to represent more than a brief moment in time—they likely indicate 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 evolve, one quick pivot includes increasing delivery and pickup/takeaway options. The report also notes fewer cash transactions as consumers and business owners move to other forms of payment.

Key findings from the report include:

5,380% increase in combined sales across curbside and/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 number of 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 

Hundreds of millions of anonymized transactions collected in coffee shops across the United States were used to build this report. All data reflective of US Square coffee sellers, as of May 2020.

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