Business Insights from the Square Coffee Data Report and the Retail Sentiment Index (RSI)

Business Insights from the Square Coffee Data Report and the Retail Sentiment Index (RSI)

By Heather Ward

The independent coffee shop is an integral part of so many neighborhoods. It’s a space where communities come together. But with that independence comes the unique challenges of running a small business, while seeking to make coffee more sustainable from the farmer to the barista. In order to achieve both, information is critical. That’s why we are happy to share the findings of the Square Coffee Data Report and the SCA Retail Sentiment Index (RSI). These reports ultimately help independent shops make their businesses more sustainable, allowing them to focus on the quality and community they provide each day.

The Retail Sentiment Index (RSI) is an informational tool designed to help with business decisions and planning, particularly in areas such as drafting business plans, expanding business and researching locations. The RSI derives from a survey that gathers retailers’ feelings towards their business and the specialty coffee industry. You can find more information about the RSI here.

It shows that the coffee industry remains overwhelmingly optimistic, and though the optimism has faded somewhat in recent years, the coffee industry seems far from plateauing. For example:

  • 63% of retailers in our survey foresee increasing workforce in the next year.
  • 50% of retailers in our survey expect their number of retail operations to increase.
  • 60% see our industry as better off than a year ago.


The Square Coffee Data Report shows consumer behavior data that reinforces the optimistic insight from the RSI.

Beginning with the US and Canada (reports from the UK, Australia, and Japan coming soon), the report digs into the current state of coffee consumption and sheds light on emerging trends disrupting the coffee industry.

Key findings:

  • The latte is the most popular drink in the US, Americans drank over 67 million lattes in last year.
  • Alternative milks are increasingly popular. Oat milk sales have increased 425% since June 2017 and it may surpass almond milk as the favorite alternative milk.
  • Cold brew orders surpassed iced-coffee orders by 42%.


More information on these reports can be found here.