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Caffeine craze: 60% of consumers buy regular coffee

August 17, 2011 | 10:00 am

Coffee Coffee –- not just the specialty versions popular at the moment -– is piping hot as providers offer better-quality standard brews.

Six in 10 consumers have ordered a regular hot coffee in the past month, according to market research firm Technomic Inc. That’s second only to the 62% of patrons who bought a non-diet, carbonated soft drink. Hot tea was the choice for 28% of customers.

The drinks’ popularity persists even as prices rise –- up to an average of $2.36 per cup from $2.25 in 2008 for coffee and up to $2.57 from $2.40 over the same period for tea. Ten percent of buyers said they’re now buying more tea, while 14% said they had a greater thirst for hot joe.

Even at untraditional coffee retailers, the drink is doing well. Coffee sales at mass merchandisers such as Target soared 53.1% from 2007 to $318 million last year.

Such unexpected competitors have upped the stakes for restaurants and other food and drink businesses. The Technomic report found that customers on the hunt for a caffeine perk-up look for locations convenient to their commute but also for coffee quality.

McDonald’s premium McCafe line, which launched in the U.S. in 2009, has been a top seller for the chain. Last year, Burger King said it would offer Seattle’s Best Coffee in 7,250 of its restaurants.  Also last year, Jamba Juice introduced its made-to-order coffee option.

Meanwhile, green tea items are popping up on chain menus across the country, according to Technomic.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: The Coffee Bar on June 30, 2011. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times

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