Whole bean coffee surging ahead in Germany signals changing consumer habits

German coffee bag
  • Sales of whole bean coffee are poised to surpass ground coffee in Germany this year
  • Whole bean market share in 2023 was 46.6%, while single-serve and ground coffee sales have declined by over 20%
  • This could mean a shift towards higher quality consumption, or simply more at-home preparation

The latest report from the German Coffee Association has unveiled a significant transformation in consumer preferences within the German coffee market, with sales of whole bean coffee poised to surpass ground coffee this year. 

Over the past five years, traditional ground coffee and single-serve options have experienced a decline, while whole bean coffee sales have surged impressively, indicating a notable shift in consumption patterns among German coffee drinkers.

“The proportion of whole bean coffee consumption is growing,” says Holger Preibisch, CEO of the German Coffee Association.  “This year, for the first time, more whole beans were consumed than ground coffee.”

He explains that whole bean market share in 2023 was 46.6 %, while ground roasted coffee was 43.3 %. Meanwhile, over the past five years, single-serve sales have declined by 24,7 %, ground coffee by 20,2 %, and whole bean sales have surged by 69 % in Germany.

The recent report looking at value distribution across the German coffee supply chain, by the Global Coffee Platform, IDH, and Solidaridad confirms these findings.

These numbers signify a growing demand for freshness, flavour customisation, and a more hands-on coffee experience among discerning consumers in Germany. 

By opting for whole beans, German consumers are embracing a more authentic and personalised approach to their coffee rituals, seeking both an artisanal experience at home and a higher quality coffee experience.

Exploring home coffee grinding and automation

The data suggesting an increasing preference for whole bean coffee is indicative of Germany’s strong inclination towards quality and craftsmanship in coffee consumption.

“The trend towards more whole bean consumption has been steady for a long time in Germany,” says Philip von der Goltz, Managing Partner at List + Beisler

“This is directly linked to the increasing appearance of fully automated machines in households since lockdown.”

CBI also finds that German consumers mainly purchase whole bean coffee, and that 26% of German consumers have a fully automated coffee machine. Fully automated coffee machines at home not only grind whole beans but also offer convenience and customisation options for coffee drinkers.

Particularly since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a surge in the popularity of home coffee brewing, with more consumers investing in automated machines to replicate cafe-quality coffee experiences in the comfort of their homes. 

While some consumers are venturing out less due to health concerns and safety precautions, and making more coffee at home, many are just opting to spend less frivolously, focusing on essential purchases and value-driven expenditures.

Younger consumers, in particular, are embracing this trend, opting to craft their own coffee creations and explore different brewing techniques with the help of advanced home coffee equipment.

home espresso machine

Higher quality coffee consumption, or just people going out less? 

The shift towards whole bean coffee consumption in Germany could also denote an increase in the demand for higher quality coffee experiences among consumers. 

Germany has quietly emerged as a powerhouse in the global coffee market over the years, and is successfully scaling up the consumption of specialty or higher quality coffee there. 

The country serves as a strategic hub for global coffee trade, with its central location in Europe facilitating easy access to markets across the continent and beyond. 

The country’s efficient logistics infrastructure, well-established trade relationships, and strong economic stability have made it an attractive destination for coffee importers, exporters, and industry stakeholders.

This has allowed its specialty coffee segment to flourish significantly in comparison with some other European markets. According to the Centre for the promotion of imports (CBI), the German retail market is expected to grow by 3.2% yearly until 2028, and an important driver behind this growth is the increasing demand for specialty coffee.

Germany is elevating coffee standards and broadening accessibility to specialty blends, thereby raising the overall quality benchmark in the coffee industry.

As German consumers continue to gravitate towards whole bean coffee, they are contributing to the democratisation of specialty coffee, bringing artisanal flavours and gourmet experiences to a wider audience. 

For Philip, a higher consumption of whole bean coffee has less to do with quality, and more to do with home consumption, however. 

“The ground coffee market was always shrinking,” he says. “Younger generations now either have grinders – for the relatively few interested in specialty – or fully automated machines, which have become more financially accessible over the years. Whole beans have been trending for a while.”

Germany’s embrace of whole bean coffee represents both a quest for quality, a desire for customisation, and a growing interest in home coffee brewing technologies. 

This trend not only reflects changing consumer preferences but also signals a broader movement towards elevating coffee standards, and people overall spending more time at home than before, and being more discerning with their spending habits.

Coffee Intelligence

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