Reading between the grains

Choosing a jar of coffee never seemed so difficult. The range of brands with different tastes, textures and ingrained ethical values on the supermarket shelves means consumers can choose a daily cup that exactly suits their needs, lifestyles and even values.

Some choose a coffee because of its rich flavour, others choose one because it comes at a good price in a catering-sized tin. And others buy a particular brand because it prom-ises to pay the coffee growers a fair wage for their work.

It will come as no surprise to find that Guardian readers are six times more likely than the average instant coffee drinker to buy the ethically sourced coffee Café Direct.

But even Times readers are more than twice as likely to care about the plight of the coffee farmer, with Daily Telegraph readers also displaying their morality in the supermarket aisles.

At the other end of the spectrum, Sun readers who drink instant coffee are over three times less likely than average to buy Café Direct. But whether this means Sun readers lack ethical concerns or simply that they earn less than Guardian and Times readers is a matter for conjecture.

Figures from lifestyle database company Claritas, which collects data through consumer mailout surveys and magazine questionnaires, show differences in the lifestyles of loyal drinkers of different instant coffee brands.

Given the instant coffee manufacturers’ obsession with driving growth through segmentation and added value products, the Claritas data on different brand niches makes interesting reading.

Nescafé Alta Rica buyers are more likely to be aged 35 to 54, and live in larger households with children. They are also twice as likely as any other instant coffee buyer to have a household income of over 50,000.

Weekly grocery spend is also high, with Alta Rica drinkers being 77 per cent more likely to spend 75 over the national average. They are also broadsheet readers, twice as likely to read The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times.

By comparison, Nescafé Gold Blend drinkers tend to be older and are more likely to live in a detached house. They are also more likely to live in the Meridian and Central TV regions and enjoy cooking, charity work and visiting National Trust sites.

Gold Blend drinkers are more likely to shop at Waitrose, followed by Tesco and Sainsbury’s, and are least likely to be found scanning the shelves at Kwik Save, Iceland or Morrisons.

As for the Blend 37 fans, they are more likely to be aged between 45 and 54 with an annual household income of over 50,000. They do their weekly grocery shop in Sainsbury’s, Safeway or Somerfield.

Their favourite leisure pursuits include skiing and gourmet food and wine.

Carte Noire appears to have been more successful in enticing the younger market than the traditional upmarket instant coffee drinkers. Its buyers are younger than the category average and more affluent. They also tend to live in larger households with children – they are 11 per cent more likely than the national average to live in their own detached house.

Carte Noire drinkers are 38 per cent more likely to be found shopping in Safeway than the category average, 23 per cent more likely to shop at Waitrose, and 19 per cent more in Sainsbury’s.

Preferences in instant coffee does seem to underline differences in income. Maxwell House powder buyers are 26 per cent more likely to be 18 to 24 with a household income of less than 20,000. They are also more likely to live in larger households of four or more people, and 22 per cent more likely to have children and live in rented accommodation.

They are also tabloid readers, being 54 per cent more likely to read The Star, and with higher than average readership of The Sun and The Mirror.

Nescafé Fine Blend buyers are generally aged between 18 and 24 or 55 plus, with a household income of less than 10,000.

Fine Blend buyers tend to be manual or factory workers or tradesmen living in larger households with children – in council housing in the Tyne Tees, Yorkshire or Granada regions.

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