Exploring Trends in the Coffee Industry through Text Analysis

mentions of americano on reddit's coffee forum

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops and this has led me to want to know more about coffee and the industry around it. To this end, I analyzed text from posts to reddit’s coffee forum and looked for trends, following the same process I outlined in this post on nutrition trends.

I was pleased with the results. There are a lot of trends in the coffee world around styles, brands and methods and this was a good way to learn about them.

The most common milk types for coffee

Cow’s milk is certainly underrepresented here because it’s harder to count mentions of just plain “milk” in a text analysis and I’m only one man. I was surprised at how often condensed milk came up, I suppose a lot of Vietnamese coffee fans on this forum.

People definitely like almond milk and its popularity is still growing:

And oat milk got a late start but is gaining traction FAST. Buy buy buy!

What coffee drink should you order to appear cool and on-trend?

This is a tough but crucial question. Hopefully these will help a bit:

I think the Flat White or Cortado are the pretty clear winners here; they’re not talked about too often but are growing in popularity. Pour over is also a good bet and hasn’t seemed to hit its ceiling yet.

I will continue to order French Press coffee but won’t expect to impress any baristas doing so.

Lattes and Cappuccinos appear to be seeing a bit of a resurgence, perhaps due to the alternative milks I looked at above, so you’re better off ordering them now than you were in 2017.

Most popular coffee roasts

I think that dark roasts sound more appealing, as I think of coffee as a dark, rich drink. But I don’t actually know if I prefer it. This is one of many things that I would like to blind taste test.

Cold Brew has come to dominate Iced Coffee

I actually prefer iced coffee to cold brew as I find cold brew to be too strong, but its popularity on the reddit coffee forum has come to dwarf iced coffee over the past 6 or 7 years.

Trends in coffee brewing methods

There are lots of different ways to brew coffee and they fluctuate in popularity. Here are some of the more interesting trends.

I included affiliate links to buy some of the products, because frankly it seems like too good a monetization opportunity not to do so.

Chemex is popular but seems to have plateaued

Chemex is a popular pour over brand. This is a good way to make fancy coffee at home.

Aeropress is very popular but mentions peaked in 2014

I haven’t made coffee with an Aeropress but it looks very satisfying and is still one of the most popular methods, despite a decline since its peak in 2014.

Mentions of Bodum peaked in 2012 and have steadily declined since then

Bodum makes various appliances for coffee brewing, including lots of different types of french press.

Hario peaked in popularity in 2015

Hario makes high-end coffee appliances like this one:

Gaggia has steadily built popularity and seems to have leveled off

Gaggia makes fancy looking espresso machines like this one (note: if you buy this espresso machine through this website, email me and I will buy you a cup of coffee):

Manual grinders in general are increasing in popularity

Grinding coffee manually seems like a good way to psychologically improve the taste of the coffee you make yourself. It is also a good way to signal to others that you take your coffee very seriously.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or would like the underlying data, let me know. You can check out the python script I used to pull this data and the R notebook I used to analyze it on github.

If you’re interested in this kind of analysis, sign up below and I’ll email you when I write something new.