By: Emily Gursky

According to the National Coffee Association, 66% of Americans today consume coffee as part of their daily routines, making it the most consumed beverage in the country. So, what is it about coffee that gets people hooked? Besides the caffeine, of course. 

Anthony Scardillo, assistant professor of Marketing at Mount Saint Mary College, says that coffee’s profound influence is created by the many subcultures it has within society. Some of these subcultures include groups like senior citizens, business professionals and college students. 

“It’s a convenient way of meeting people on many levels,” Scardillo says, “both personally and in business.” 

College students in particular are avid coffee drinkers, due to their often-busy schedules and high workloads. Angela Knott, 20, is a nursing student at Mount Saint Mary College and consumes coffee daily. 

“It just gives me the energy to get through the day,” she said.  

The coffee industry itself generates $28 billion in taxes, making it a powerful market in the U.S. economy. Major chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have taken the country by storm in terms of revenue and consumer loyalty.  

This has presented a challenge for local, ‘mom and pop’ locations to stand out and find their niche in the market, especially when so many coffee-drinkers have either Starbucks or Dunkin’ as their default. While there seem to be many barriers to entering the business, there is one way for a local shop to keep customers coming back—the key is to differentiate themselves. 

“One of the ways that small businesses can do that is to get to know people on a personal basis,” said Scardillo. “That’s where you really excel in your business.” By doing this, he says, it will keep consumers coming back.