So, it’s become more than a little apparent as of late that the world’s obsession with coffee is going nowhere but through the stratosphere right now. Quite literally in some cases, as we’ve recently gotten wind of the very first zero-gravity Italian coffee machine making its way to the International Space Station – good coffee it appears really does know no bounds!


As such, it’s hardly surprising that coffee’s place in the product pecking order of a fair few nations is accelerating by the day. Chances are we’ll be spending more and more with each passing year on coffee and coffee-related products here in the UK, but it’s across the water in the Unites States that coffee really has shot to fame as a specialty food of choice.


According to the country’s Specialty Food Association, specialty coffee has overtaken seafood, poultry and frozen meats to become America’s second most important and widely-sold specialty food of all by way of hard sales. Last year alone…and bear in mind the American economy still isn’t out of the woods yet…a full $109 billion went on specialty food sales, which according to the SFA is the handle given to “products that have limited distribution and a reputation for high quality.”


In terms of which coffees qualify for the same header, pretty much any coffee that’s prepared in a café or takeaway joint is considered a specialty product, as are the ground and whole bean coffees that line the shelves of stores and supermarkets across the land. Chucked into the same category as cocoa, total sales of specialty coffee in the United States in 2014 alone spiked to a massive $3.48 billion, representing a 21% increase compared to the year before’s total sales. And if things keep going at the same pace, it won’t be long before coffee leapfrogs cheese to become the United States’ number one specialty food product – cheese having pipped coffee at the spot with $3.7 billion in sales.


“Consumers are looking for new tastes, foods with fewer and cleaner ingredients, health attributes, and products that are made by companies with values they care about,” commented Ron Tanner of the SFA.


“All of these define specialty food.”


What really came across in the report was the way in which coffee culture seems to be accelerating at record pace despite some having suggested that the phenomenon had peaked some time ago. Since 2012 for example, the number of coffee sales being chalked up by cafés, restaurants and takeaway joints in the United States has grown a whopping 30%. So, even in times when the country as a whole wasn’t doing too great in a financial sense, folk were still finding the cash necessary to head out and indulge in the kinds of coffees that often cost ten times the price of a homemade cup.


Sadly, there’s no similar report to go on for the UK public and its love affair with coffee, but it’s pretty clear nonetheless that we’re heading down a very similar path.