Consumers Frequent Doughnut Shops More for Coffee Than Doughnuts

CHICAGO — Although doughnuts get top billing in the quick service restaurant category (QSR), consumers visit them more for coffee than the doughnuts.

According to The NPD Group, there were 2.1 billion servings of coffee ordered at QSR doughnut restaurants vs. 805 million servings of doughnuts in the year ending October 2019. In the United States, there are 18,010 doughnut shops.

NPD's receipt harvesting service, Checkout, found that only 15 percent of QSR doughnut purchases include a doughnut and coffee combo. For those who visit doughnut shops, 68 percent of their purchases include coffee and only 30 percent include a doughnut.

Coffee buyers tend to prefer specialty coffee, like lattes and frozen coffee, over regular java. Servings of specialty coffee ordered at doughnut shops are up 14 percent, while regular coffee servings are down by 4 percent.

Whether it's for the coffee or the doughnuts, there were 3.2 billion visits made to QSR doughnuts outlets in the year ending October 2019, up 2 percent compared to same period year ago. The visit gains to doughnut shops compares to a 1-percent traffic increase for the total QSR restaurant segment and no increase for total restaurant industry traffic.

"We are a nation of coffee drinkers and while we like our donuts too, we tend to be fueled by coffee and drink more of it," says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. "The takeaway for donut shops? If you serve good tasting coffee with your good tasting donuts, consumers will visit."

Chicago-based NPD offers data, industry expertise and prescriptive analytics to help clients grow their businesses in a changing world.