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NATIONAL REPORT -- When it comes to beverage orders at restaurants, operators should pay as much or more attention to regular brewed coffee as they do to specialty coffees and teas, according to a new study from market research firm Technomic cited in a Nation's Restaurant News report.
The study, "Market Intelligence Report: Coffee and Tea," found that 60 percent of surveyed restaurant customers reported ordering regular coffee or tea in the past month. The only beverages more popular were non-diet carbonated soft drinks, ordered by 62 percent of surveyed customers.
"Consumers who regularly purchase coffee on their way to work are motivated by the convenience of the location," said Joe Pawlak, vice president of Technomic. "But significantly, they are actually more motivated by the quality of the coffee, making them important loyal customers who return often."
Fourteen percent of customers are buying more hot coffee today than they were two years ago, according to the report. Ten percent reported the same for iced tea. Their popularity has increased in spite of rising prices; the average price of regular coffee increased from $2.25 in 2008 to $2.36 today, and the average price of hot tea or iced tea increased from $2.40 to $2.57 during the same time period.
Quick-service restaurant chains have recognized the opportunity presented by customers' desire for coffee and tea and responded by emphasizing their importance in plans for the future, according to NRN. McDonald's launched its McCafé coffee line in 2009 after upgrading to a premium roast blend in 2006. Its competitor Wendy's has identified an upgraded coffee line as crucial to the chain's success in breakfast service, and is currently testing it in six markets.
In Technomic's report, 73 percent of customers stated they are interested in green tea, which contains antioxidants and offers other reported healing benefits; 61 percent stated they are interested in tea with lemon; and 60 percent said they are interested in tea with honey flavoring.
Chains that have announced plans for new coffee and tea products also include Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Jamba Juice, Bruegger's Bagels and Pinkberry.
Technomic surveyed 1,500 customers for the report during the month of June.