Canada: a leading coffee market

The pandemic has hit the worldwide economy. Nevertheless, the coffee market is reported as growing even in 2020/2021. Let us explore the coffee trends of one of the highest consuming markets: Canada!

Even if 2020 and probably a good part of 20121 will be remembered as a true Annus horribilis (horrible year!) for international business, some market segments have certainly been less affected by the crisis linked to Covid-19, at least economically.

Let’s take the example of Canada, one of the largest coffee consuming countries worldwide with some statistical analysis of their trends.

When we have a look at coffee shops, the loss has been enormous. The lock-down period and the strong restrictions have incremented the big crash. Especially the touristic and travel sectors have had a downfall of almost 80% even if the average decline of coffee shops in Canada was around 41%.

The fast growth of delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to limiting the losses, but only to a certain extent. This was definitely not enough to cover for the worst months of the crisis.

Although  the market is now partially recovering, this will certainly not avoid for the market to close the year with a heavy minus sign.

The Canadian coffee market

On the other hand, the coffee market in general did quite well. The sell out was reported to be in a range from 4.17 in 2011 to 4.83 million bags of 60 kg in 2020 (source: Statista).

The coffee consumption pro capita has increased from 7,050 Kg to 7,830 Kg per person and 2/3 of Canadians enjoy at least one cup of coffee a day with the average at 3.2 cups / day (2018) According to the Specialty Coffee Association of Canada.

Canada: a leading coffee market
Canada’s Coffee Consumption in million 60-kilogram bags,
Canada: a leading coffee market
DIG Insights & Canada Coffee Association chart for coffee trends in 2019

Coffee shop trend in Canada

In 2017 MacLean conducted a survey on the most loved coffee chains by 1,500 Canadian readers and the first three were McCafè, Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Second Cup.

Let’s have a look at the main initiatives that some of these chains held compared to others, which made them stand out compared to their competitors and what ultimately the latest trends are in the coffee business.

Rewards programs

Tim Hortons, for example, launched its program in March 2019 in which costumers had the chance to collect points through a card or a mobile app. Also Starbucks and Second Cup updated their loyalty program and McCafè launched their mobile version in 2019.


Also delivery services, especially in times of Covid-19, have grown exponentially. A analysis shows that the orders received through deliveries are larger than those at the coffee shop directly.

For example, Starbucks Canada has launched it’s door-to-door service through the partnership with Uber Eats making it available in the main cities.

Partnering with a big delivery company like Uber Eats, gives Starbucks the chance to reach new costumers and provides existing costumers new convenience programs.


Although the traditional regular coffee remains the preferred coffee by Canadians, espresso is quickly growing among the preferences of consumers.

In fact, between 2014 and 2018 there has been a steady increase among adults between the age of 18 and 79, from 14% in 2014 to 24% in 2018 (Coffee Business Intelligence,

Big Italian coffee companies such as Illy and Lavazza are expanding in the market, but also smaller and more artisanal high-end roasteries such as Mokaflor are seeing the growth in interest by consumers for a higher quality of their espresso blends (visit our client Pavia Gallery in Halifax, for a great espresso!)

Their concept store and combination between art & high quality food is of great success and sets the trend for new coffee shop and food store models.

Canada: a leading coffee market
Christopher Webb, curator and director of the Pavia Gallery in Halifax

Specialty coffee brewing methods

Many coffee shops adapting to Specialty Coffee and its brewing methods, are making the brewing moment a sort of ceremony for the costumer. This takes a whole new way of planning the menu together with service organization for the coffee brewing times.

Also the Nitro coffee is being seen more and more in Specialty Coffee shops. It requires one further step to the Cold Brew method as nitrogen is infused into the coffee for a smooth and almost sweet taste.

Custom ordering

A trend which is rapidly spreading in the U.S. and Canada is the custom drink ordering. In this way, clients order their coffee through a POS and the barista then prepares the beverage accordingly.

Thanks to the possibility of modifying items, the client has the chance to change toppings, add coffee shots, choose a milk alternative, etc.

This system is great for analyzing and monitoring: bestsellers, the supply of ingredients, pricing, revenue and in general having a digital and better overview of the business.

Canada: a leading coffee market
Espresso macchiato & Cappuccino @ Pavia Gallery in Halifax

Milk alternatives

The exponential growth of plant-based milk-alternatives is also increasing every year especially among the younger generations.

Although initially some milk alternatives where not seen as suitable for the preparation of cappuccino or other foamed drinks, today plant based drinks such as oat, almond and cashew are quickly making their way up in the rankings.