A New York online advertising and market research firm has determined that it’s not what’s in the coffee that keeps premium coffee drinkers shelling out $4 a pop for their caffeine fix. Instead, Mindset Media says it’s a set of specific character traits among coffeehouse customers that keeps them coming back, even in the down economy.

The firm created a Mindset Profile of premium coffee drinkers using Nielsen’s Online panel.

According to the study, those who drink specialty coffees on a daily basis share four common personality traits, the most prominent of which is openness.

“While there are plenty of wallet-friendly places to get your morning caffeine fix, there are, of course, people who insist on drinking premium coffee day after day, despite the tough economic times,” says Sarah Welch, COO and co-founder of Mindset Media.

Welch goes on to explain that, while many would believe coffee preference is a matter of income, the company found the answer may have more to do with how the coffee drinkers are wired.

In fact, premium coffee drinkers are 114 percent more likely to be highly open than the general population. According to the findings, “highly open people seek rich, varied, and novel experiences, believing that imagination and intellectual curiosity contribute to a life well lived.”

Consumers who drink specialty coffees on a daily basis are also 70 percent more likely to score highly in the category of leadership; 55 percent more like to score highly in superiority; and 48 percent more likely to score highly in creativity than the general population.

Welch advises those brands that can identify the traits or mindsets of their base consumer to use targeted marketing, such as online media outlets, to reach them.

–Blair Chancey