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A Growing Preference for Espresso-Based Coffee Shop Drinks in the US

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US consumers enjoy consuming espresso-based drinks in specialist coffee shops and increasingly want to recreate these beverages at home.One indicator of the rising interest in at-home preparation of gourmet coffee beverages is the 29% growth in retail unit sales of espresso coffee machines from 2010 to 2015 in the US, according to Euromonitor International’s Consumer Appliances database. Affluent Americans are investing in bean-to-cup espresso machines, some of which cost US$2,000 and above, to make US$4 lattes at home. As US consumers also value convenience, retail unit sales of pod coffee machines grew by 167% growth from 2010 to 2015. Some coffee-drinking households own both a Keurig pod coffee machine to brew coffee for weekday mornings and an espresso maker for the weekend. Yet consumer sentiment is turning away from pod coffee machines to espresso machines. Retail unit sales of espresso machines are projected to grow by 18% in the US from 2015 to 2020 while sales of pod coffee machines stay flat. To survive in this challenging environment, makers of pod coffee machines are expected to launch more machines that combine the best features of a Keurig brewer and a Nespresso espresso maker. Two companies showcased innovative pod coffee machines that can make espresso, espresso-based drinks, and coffee at the International Home + Housewares Show.

National Coffee Association survey shows espresso machine usage up in 2016

Survey results on coffee preparation methods conducted for the National Coffee Association’s National Coffee Drinking Trends 2016 report also speak to the increased interest in preparing espresso-based beverages. The survey found that 12% of US coffee drinkers said they used an espresso machine in the past-day in 2016, up from 9% in 2015. 28% of the respondents said they used a single-cup brewer in 2016, up from 25% in 2015. Past-day consumption of an espresso-based beverage rose from 16% in 2015 to 18% in 2016. The NCA report suggests that US coffee drinkers like the convenience of pod coffee machines and the taste of espresso-based beverages.

Nespresso is the leader in pod-based espresso machines

The rising demand for espresso machines and product innovation has allowed Nestlé SA’s Nespresso to outperform Keurig Green Mountain Inc in the US as retail unit sales of Nespresso machines grew by 1% in 2015 while that of Keurig declined by 10%. Nespresso created the global pod-based espresso machines category by combining the features of an espresso machine and the ease of use of a pod coffee machine with the option of a separate or integrated milk frothing device. In the US, Nestlé has had to make changes to its machines to accommodate consumer preference for long-cups. It launched the Nespresso VertuoLine Coffee & Espresso Maker in 2014 than brews a cup of coffee (230ml) in addition to espresso (40ml) and followed in October 2015 with the Nespresso Evoluo VertuoLine which has a larger water reservoir. In contrast, the Keurig brewer’s K-Cup pods brew from 118ml to 355ml of coffee, with a choice of over 500 beverage options.

Two new pod coffee machines seek to combine the best of Keurig and Nespresso

To address the desire for an all-in-one coffee machine, two companies introduced pod coffee machines that can make espresso-based drinks as well as brewed coffee at the March 2016 Housewares Show. Gourmia showcased the Gourmia GC5000 as bringing freedom of choice to coffee, espresso, and tea lovers through its interchangeable “CoffeeCart System” that allows consumers to use popular espresso capsules such as Nespresso, Nescafe Dolce Gusto, Caffitaly, Lavazza as well as Keurig coffee and tea K-Cups. The Gourmia GC5000 has a built-in milk frother to make specialty drinks and an adjustable base that accepts espresso cups to travel size mugs. Like the Gourmia GC5000, the iCafe+ All in One brewing system from Remington Designs leverages Keurig’s stable of 500+ beverage choices. The company says that the iCafe+ can make espresso from any K-Cup or K-type cup using its patented SpinBrew technology and espresso setting. The iCafe+ is geared towards current K-Cup users who also enjoy specialty coffee by allowing them to make cappuccino, latte, and latte macchiato using K-Cups and fresh milk. Unlike the Nespresso and other pod-based espresso machines, where milk is poured into a refillable milk container before frothing, the milk is poured into the iCafe brewer using a special cup.

Gourmia GC5000 second photo

Source: Gourmia

Americans’ coffee preferences are evolving to include more espresso-based drinks. At the same time, consumers enjoy large cups of coffee and like the convenience of pod coffee machines. To satisfy the desire for one coffee machine that can please every member of the household, more companies are expected to develop machines that combine the best features of a Keurig brewer and Nespresso espresso maker to brew coffee and make coffee shop style beverages.

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