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Published October 19th 2018

Frothy Trends and Insights: A Deep Dive Into Coffee Conversation

The Brandwatch React team returns to the beautiful subject of coffee to see what caffeine fuelled insights could be found.

Global production and consumption of coffee is on the rise, and it’s a matter that’s close to our hearts.

That’s why we were keen to update our 2016 coffee analysis to see what we could find out about the coffee conversation in 2018. This time we’ve got more data sources and better visualizations but, of course, our love for coffee remains constant.

In this data analysis we collected mentions of coffee (and a whole selection of variations, including typos – latte, cappuccino, cupuccino, mocha, etc) from Twitter, Instagram and Reddit. We excluded retweets so that we could focus on individual contributions to the coffee conversation between the start of 2018 up to the end of September. We looked at English language data globally, although in some places in this analysis we look solely at the US.

Overall, we tracked nearly 36 million mentions.

Let’s get to the caffeine buzz.

The geography of coffee conversations

We started our analysis by looking at coffee mentions across the US, breaking down that conversation by the states from which the mentions came. We then divided the number of mentions by the number of people in that state (according to 2017 estimates) to see how many mentions there were per person and, therefore, how likely people in that state were to talk about coffee in its various forms.

Mississippi are the clear coffeeholics.

The top and bottom 5 states for talking about coffee

The top 5 states The bottom 5 states
Mississipi South Carolina
Oregon Louisiana
Nevada Maine
New York Delaware
North Dakota Alabama
Mentions gathered 1 Jan - 30 Sep 2018

Clearly, there are regional differences within the coffee conversation.

A well-timed coffee

What about the timing? If you’re a caffeine lover you’ll be well accustomed to the relief of a coffee that arrives just at the right time. I once gave up coffee for about a year – I’d highly recommend it, purely for the appreciation of the coffee buzz when you return to it.

We wanted to know when people wanted coffee most, expecting a Sunday morning peak (after all, that’s the day we’re most likely to be hungover).

We were wrong. Wednesday is the peak day for coffee conversation and, presumably, consumption.

The time of day that coffee is consumed is particularly important. A coffee at midnight is almost never a good idea.

Using data from the US, and measuring it in Eastern Time, we found that 11am was the peak time for coffee. You’ll notice that coffee conversation begins to grow fast early in the morning, but that it tapers off more gradually throughout the day.

But we can get more granular than that.

What about looking at how different people in the US consume their coffee?

We broke the data down by time of day as well as profession.

Sportspeople and trainers are up the earliest, it seems, while executives and legal workers prefer to get their caffeine fix later in the day.

When people discuss coffee most, broken down by profession

9am 10am 11am
Sportpersons & Trainer Teacher & Lecturer Creative
Politician Executive
Scientist & Researcher Sales/Marketing/PR
Journalist Legal
Health practitioner
Software developer & IT
Student
Mentions gathered 1 Jan - 30 Sep 2018. US data only. Mentions are ET

How do we like our coffee?

The make up of a coffee is a personal thing, and it’ll often depend on what we fancy.

In our coffee query we searched for all different kinds of coffee, from the simple cappuccino through to Irish coffee and the ‘long black.’

Categorizing each coffee type separately, we were quickly able to see which was most popular within English language conversation.

Yes, the milky latte is truly the favourite.

Why? Perhaps this is down to the aesthetics.

We found that the top mentioned coffees differed depending on the social network we were studying.

On Reddit, for example, ‘espresso’ was neck-and-neck with ‘latte’ as a chunk of the conversation. The conversation on Twitter and Instagram was far more clear cut, with ‘latte’ being the obvious leader. When we looked at the hashtags around coffee on Instagram, the latte (#latte, #latteart) appeared comfortably within the top 90.

Key topics of conversation

As we explored the above data we picked up on some of the trends that we were seeing in mentions, and split out the conversation relating to these themes so we could study them further.

Ice, Ice, Coffee

Ice coffee made up around 3% of the overall coffee mentions, which is a hefty chunk when you consider the size of this conversation.

“Iced latte,” “iced americano” and “iced caramel” were among the top used phrases within the iced coffee conversation on Twitter. After a hot summer, it’s not too much of a surprise.

But if you’re a coffee vendor and you’ve not yet embraced ice coffee, this might be a trend to look into.

#Vegan

#Vegan was a hashtag that trended within the Instagram coffee conversation, and we were able to find thousands of mentions of non-dairy milk alternatives within the overall coffee conversation.

As veganism grows both online and in the ‘real world’, coffee vendors who don’t offer alternatives are missing a big opportunity.

Anxiety

This theme was particularly prominent on Reddit compared to Twitter and Instagram, and I searched for it because I wanted to see how people were talking about coffee in relation to it increasing anxiety levels. Since Reddit is a forum where you can remain anonymous, it’s possible that people are more likely to open up about their mental health here.

I found that people discussed coffee in relation to anxiety across a whole range of subreddits – some relating to health and mental health, and some relating to completely different topics.

Here are a couple of the mentions as an example.

Discussions around mental health on social media are fascinating to study. Check out or research with Ditch the Label to take a look at the ways we’ve done it before.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte

Of course, ‘pumpkin’ popped up as a trending topic several times within our research. The release of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is always a huge thing, so much so that we thought it could dominate a huge chunk of the conversation.

“Pumpkin” was mentioned in around 6% of latte conversation, although we should note that we did not search for #PSL in our original query – a popular way to refer to the beverage.

While we don’t have a huge amount of data on it this year, the ubiquity of pumpkins within coffee conversation is all down to Starbucks, and their ability to create and consistently draw in hype around this particular flavor is commendable.

Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts

Speaking of Starbucks, we couldn’t end the post without talking about the top-discussed brand in the conversation.

Starbunks is the top mentioned organization, hands down, within coffee conversation.

It’s followed by Amazon, with various coffee products (makers, tables, etc) doing well within their mentions.

Netflix is up next, mainly because of the show ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’ That’s kind of cheating.

Fourth is Dunkin’ Donuts, who are making a play to highlight their coffee (and other beverages) by dropping the word ‘Donuts’ from their name.

Can we dive deeper into coffee conversations?

Of course – all kinds of questions can be answered with social data. So if you’ve got one about coffee, feel free to get in touch and we can continue into the caffeinated depths together.

Further topics might include splitting out the mentions by demographic to see what coffee trends resonate most with particular groups. You could also differentiate coffee connoiseur conversation from general coffee fan conversation using Brandwatch Audiences. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

We hope you’re suitably buzzed after all that data!

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