There are 18,010 donut shops in the U.S. and although “donuts” get top billing in this quick service restaurant category, consumers visit them more for the coffee than the donuts, reports The NPD Group. There were 2.1B servings of coffee ordered at quick-service donut restaurants versus 805 million servings of donuts in the year ending October 2019, reports NPD’s ongoing foodservice market research.

Some may think that donut and coffee go together like burger and fries but only 15 percent of quick-service Donut purchases include a donut and coffee combo, according to NPD’s receipt harvesting service, Checkout. For those who visit donut shops, 68 percent of their purchases include coffee and only 30 percent include a donut. Those coffee buyers tend to be aficionados of specialty coffee, like lattes and frozen coffee, versus regular coffee. Servings of specialty coffee ordered at donut shops are up 14 percent while regular coffee servings are down by 4 percent.

Whether it’s for the coffee or the donuts, there were 3.2 billion visits made to quick-service donut outlets in the year ending October 2019, up 2 percent compared to same period year ago. The 2 percent visit gains to donut shops compares to a 1 percent traffic increase for the total quick-service 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.”

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