NEW YORK (PRNewswire) — At a time when Starbucks can be found on practically every corner, have Americans chosen convenience as the deciding factor in where they get their caffeine jolt? Not according to a recent Harris Poll (full findings and data tables available here), that suggests consumers — particularly millennials — may have become somewhat of coffee connoisseurs. Results of The Harris Poll of 2,496 U.S. adults surveyed online from February 13-18, 2013 by Harris Interactive found that taste is the top factor in determining where coffee/tea buyers purchase their beverages, and that Americans are willing to go out of their way for their favorite cup of joe. Three in five coffee/tea buyers (60%) said the coffee shop they most frequently visit is their favorite, chosen over a more convenient shop (40%), and this number rises to two-thirds (66%) of those ages 18 to 35.

Chain Reaction

That favorite shop is likely a chain, as coffee and tea buyers said they typically choose a national chain (35%) almost two to one over a local shop (18%). Related findings from the 2013 Harris Poll EquiTrend® (EQ) study show that among national and regional chains, Dunkin' Donuts is top ranked and the Brand of the Year in the coffee and quick service restaurant category. This award is given in each category to the highest ranked brand in Equity, which is based on key factors of Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration. The brands in this category that rank above the category average Equity score are:

  • Dunkin' Donuts Stores
  • Einstein Bros Bagels
  • Starbucks Coffee Shops

The Caffeinated Generation

Having grown up during the coffee shop boom, younger Americans are, perhaps not surprisingly, leading the charge as the most likely to ever purchase prepared coffee or tea drinks. Seven in ten (71%) of those ages 18-35 say they do so, along with 68% of those ages 36-47. In contrast, 60% of 48-66 year olds and 57% of those ages 67 and older say they ever shell out for these beverages. Millennials who purchase such beverages a few times a week or more are also the most likely to say they'll give up convenience to go to their favorite place, with two in three (66%) saying the store they frequent most is their favorite, as opposed to settling for a more convenient location.

Best Brew

Taste is the most important factor among all coffee/tea buyers when deciding where to make their purchases; 78% rate it a very important factor in deciding where to buy a beverage, more than 20 percentage points higher than any other factor, including price at 54%. And despite the growing addition of food options on coffee shop menus, less than one in four coffee/tea purchasers (23%) rate the variety of food choices very important, compared with 31% who indicate the same for the selection of beverages.

Coffee Shops Beware?

While Americans may love their Frappuccinos®, macchiatos and Coolattas®, the convenience of single serve home brewing has been gaining in popularity[1]; one-third of Americans (33%) say they have a single cup brewing system at home and/or work. Among adults with a single cup maker, 70% say they have consciously chosen to use it instead of buying a drink at a coffee shop. In fact, single-cup brewing mainstay Keurig was named the Brand of the Year in the EquiTrend coffee maker category for the second year in a row. The brands in this category ranking above the category average Equity score are:

  • Keurig Coffee Maker
  • Mr. Coffee Coffee Maker
  • Bosch Coffee Maker
  • DeLonghi Coffee Maker
  • Cuisinart Coffee Maker
  • Krups Coffee Maker

To see other recent Harris Polls, or to search through over 40 years of topics in the Harris Vault®, please visit the Harris Poll News Room .

Harris Poll Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,496 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.