Presenting the Latest Consumer Research For Specialty Coffee


By Heather Ward, SCAA

As SCAA’s research analyst, I work with the marketing and communications department to serve as our members’ primary contact for statistics, research, and coffee industry data. At this year’s Symposium, held during the two days prior to The Event, I was privileged to give a talk that covered some of our very latest research that has been underway at SCAA. It was such an honor to be a part of this respected event and in the presence of so many brilliant coffee minds. It was truly inspiring.

In my talk, I spoke in-depth about three reports that addressed consumption, retailer sentiment, and the dollar value of the coffee market. The full reports can be found on, and a recap of the talk at (Blog section). The data collectively shows us the growth and opportunity on the consumer side of our industry. I want to take a moment to talk about one report in particular: The Specialty Coffee Retail Sentiment Index (RSI).

SCAA_RSI2The RSI is an economic indicator that reveals coffee retailers’ confidence in their businesses and the industry as a whole. It’s a semi-annual index number between -100 and +100, with zero being neutral. The RSI was developed from a retailer survey that consists of six questions addressing current and expected financial condition, workforce expansion, store expansion, and current and expected outlook of industry. Each question is calculated to compare individually, and together they express the composite RSI.

Over time, the data will be used to identify trends and forecast any potential hiccups in the retail sector. Whether future indices reflect positive or negative sentiment, the awareness will be helpful for coffee professionals. This information can be useful in making business decisions and provides solid data to help strategize.

Our very first January 2015 RSI reflects an overall positive outlook at 66.5. For more detail and to see a complete summary of the indices, you can find the RSI report on I look forward to gathering more data on retailer sentiment and providing insightful information that is useful in you in your business.

Heather Ward is the Research Analyst for the Specialty Coffee Association of America.