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Coffee or Tea: Which Brew Dominates the United States?

Updated on July 1, 2016
Tea or Coffee?
Tea or Coffee?

A Brief History of Hot Beverages

Tea came to America with the Dutch colonist of New Amsterdam, or what we today call New York, in 1650. The settlers loved their tea and took pride in serving the brew in the best porcelain cups, with silver strainers, carried on wooden tea caddies, according to a book written by author Tracy Stern. Tea was a popular drink in the colonies and tea ceremonies were frequently held, not only by the rich and famous but almost everyone. In fact, this popularity of tea can be said to have triggered the American Revolution, with the Boston Tea Party in 1773!

Coffee, on the other hand, is said to have first been cultivated and traded on the Arabian Peninsula, as far back as the 15th century. European travelers to this region brought back stories of a strange, black beverage and soon enough, coffee found its way to Europe. From here, the beverage found its way, in the mid-17th century to New Amsterdam, says the National Coffee Association USA. Although tea continued to be the more popular drink in the New World, coffee houses began to mushroom through the colonies and it was the high tax levied on tea that drove many to coffee.

Coffee vs Tea
Coffee vs Tea
Celebrities Love Tea
Celebrities Love Tea

Global Consumption of Coffee vs Tea

An article on Economist shows coffee vs tea consumption in different countries around the world, aggregating data collected from 79 countries by the research firm Euromonitor International. Most of the Western hemisphere countries prefer coffee to tea, with the exception of the United Kingdom, where tea consumption is three times that of coffee, a legacy from Britain’s colonial past. While coffee consumption in the US is three times that of tea consumption, the ratio is much more even in Canada.

As an article by the Pew Research Center states that places that were once famous for coffee, such as Java in Indonesia, Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula, now favor tea over coffee. While most of the countries in Asia prefer tea, South Korea and the Philippines, both with close ties to the US, prefer coffee over tea. Now for the verdict. Data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations shows that approximately 8.9 million metric tons of coffee were produced in 2013, compared to 5.3 million metric tons of tea during the same year.

According to the calculations of David Grigg, a British geographer, it takes only two grams of tea to make a cup, whereas a cup of coffee needs 10 grams. Thus, while coffee production exceeds that of tea, three cups of tea are consumed for every cup of coffee worldwide.

The Tea vs Coffee Debate
The Tea vs Coffee Debate
Tea vs Coffee
Tea vs Coffee

The US Remains a Diehard Fan of Coffee

According to an article on The Huffington Post, the US was the biggest coffee market, at USD 130 billion, in terms of retail value in 2013. According to research published on, approximately 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day. Americans drink an average of 3.1 cups of coffee a day, with the average cup size being 9 ounces. While 65% of Americans drink coffee with breakfast, 30% drink it between meals.

Younger Americans are Moving to Tea
Younger Americans are Moving to Tea

Younger Americans are Slowly Moving towards Tea

As an article on Forbes reports, tea consumption has grown since the turn of the millennium, especially among the younger generations. According to research conducted by YouGov, both coffee and tea proved to be equally popular among young people under the age of 30, with 42% saying they liked coffee, and 42% saying they preferred tea. Nowadays, there are so many varieties of tea out there, and the number of retailers selling all kinds of teas is seeing a steady increase. Tea drinkers have more and more reasons to champion their beverage.

A study of 40 research papers on the relationship between black tea and disease prevention suggests that drinking three cups of tea a day can reduce the risk of a heart attack by up to 60% and also cut the risk of diabetes, as reported by an article on

Growth of the US Tea Industry
Growth of the US Tea Industry


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