Both quality beans and novelty flavors factor into consumers’ coffee cravings. /Photograph: Shutterstock
Coffee drinkers are a fussy bunch, especially when they crave that jolt of caffeine or an indulgent iced treat and only a certain brand will satisfy.
Restaurant Business sister company Technomic conducted a survey through its Technomic Ignite Consumer platform to discover which chains consumers rank the highest for coffee craveability. Purists tend to go for deep coffee flavor and aroma and quality beans, while those craving a sweeter or novelty beverage cite chains with flavored coffees and icy blended drinks.
From lowest to highest, these 10 topped the list. Surprisingly, not all fall into the category of coffee concepts.
Consumers gravitate toward the flavored coffees at Cinnabon, but only 3.2% called out the chain as being the most craveable. Iced Coffee Caramel is a favorite, with one consumer citing “all the different Cinnabon flavored coffees … soooo yummy.” Many expressed their love for the cinnamon rolls too.
This ice cream chain came in a hair behind Cinnabon, rounded off to the same 3.2% rating. Consumers like Baskin-Robbins’ blended drinks that combine ice cream and coffee. Cappuccino blasts customized with any flavor of ice cream are preferred, with frozen mocha and caramel mocha top choices, too.
8. Einstein Bros. Bagels
Consumers often order a cup of coffee along with breakfast, and Einstein Bros. is a one-stop destination for both. Four percent of respondents like the coffee here, rating it as “very good.” The pumpkin spice iced coffee is a favorite as is the mocha frozen coffee drink that “tastes like a milkshake.”
7. Corner Bakery Café
Coffee is a signature blend at Corner Bakery Café and 4.5% of consumers agree that it’s craveable. One respondent goes so far as praising “the perfect taste of the coffee,” while another saying “I really just order their coffee or hot beverages, not their food items.” But one customer likes pairing something to eat with the chain’s coffee, opting for the Anaheim panini with iced coffee. The variety of coffees is also a selling point, with the brand’s iced mocha coffee a favorite.
6. Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop
Coffee craveability takes a big leap of 12 percentage points between Nos. 7 and 6, with 16.6% of consumers choosing Tim Hortons. The Canadian-based chain is cited as having a “unique brand of coffee” with one fan saying “their coffee is the best and I really don’t care for any other company’s coffee that much.” Consumers often purchase Tim’s famous donuts along with their coffee—no surprise there—with Timbits, cream cheese donuts and blueberry donuts singled out.
5. Dunkin’ Donuts
Coming in ahead of Tim’s is another donut chain, Dunkin’—the choice of 20.2% of consumers surveyed. People like the large assortment of specialty coffee flavors here, including pumpkin spice, peanut butter, blueberry, French vanilla and iced coffee with flavor shots. One respondent is especially partial to Dunkin’s frozen coffee for vegans, and others mentioned the chain’s best coffee accompaniments, including coffee rolls, maple donuts, breakfast wraps and hash browns.
4. Dutch Bros Coffee
Solidly in the No. 4 spot is Dutch Bros, a top coffee pick with 27.6% of consumers. “The coffees are great and hard to beat” was one comment, with the nitro cold brew and double chocolate mocha blended coffee singled out. Dutch Bros’ seasonal selections and unusual flavors also got points for craveability, including peppermint, Captain Crunch, and German chocolate cake iced coffee.
Starbucks coffee is the most craveable with 29.4% of consumers, with consistency a major plus. “No other coffee place makes it how I like, or if they do it’s inconsistent from one visit to the next. Starbucks makes it the same every time,” said one coffee drinker. While some people cited the non-specialty drinks, like brewed iced coffee, Pike Place medium roast, nitro coffee and the variety of fair trade choices, others go for the holiday flavors, like peppermint mocha coffee. White chocolate mocha and iced caramel coffee are two others that rose to the top.
2. Peet’s Coffee
Landing at No. 2 is Peet’s Coffee, preferred by 36.0% of respondents. “Amazing,” “organic” and “high quality” are some of the words consumers use to describe Peet’s coffee, with one saying, “I stop here in the mornings on my way to work and it is really out of my way, so I leave a little early so I can get a great cup of coffee.” Another prefers Peet’s because of “the amazing taste and smell to the coffee beans; it matters where it comes from and is grown.” Some dedicated fans single out the espresso, black tie iced coffee, horchata coffee drinks and pumpkin spice as “the best.”
1. Caribou Coffee
Edging out Peet’s by less than one percentage point is Caribou Coffee, earning first place for craveability among 36.9% of consumers. Comments such as “the coffee tastes better in general—even plain hot coffee is enjoyable” and “the taste of the beans” garnered praise, the chain’s unique seasonal drinks were most often cited. Caribou’s signature turtle coffee is a winner, as well as campfire mocha and iced cold brew caramel. A couple of respondents covered all bases by saying “I like the dessert-like blended coffee drinks” and “they have seasonal coffees I can only get from this restaurant.”
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