The Psychology of Coffee: Understanding Customer Behaviour and Preferences

The Psychology of Coffee: Understanding Customer Behaviour and Preferences

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Published: Fri 23 Jun 2023

The Psychology of Coffee: Understanding Customer Behaviour and Preferences

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If you’re a barista or a coffee entrepreneur, you’ve likely wondered about the psychological aspects of coffee and how you can better understand customer behaviour and preferences. Taking a deeper look into coffee-related behaviours can provide subtle tips and tricks to enhance sales – all while ensuring your customers have the best caffeinated experiences. Understanding the preferences and behaviour of your customers should be the backbone of any business strategy, so let’s dive into the psychology of coffee.


The Role of Psychology in Food and Coffee Consumption

From an early age, you would likely have smelt coffee brewing and at least become used to its rich aroma; this repeated exposure plays an integral role in our food preferences. More than that, marketing and the promise of an energy boost probably got you sipping. Over time, we learn our preferred flavour profiles, and drinking coffee becomes a ritualistic endeavour. Coffee on the way to work perks you up, a coffee break helps you refocus, coffee shared with a friend becomes a social ritual, and coffee with dessert serves as an indulgence. And before you know it, you have a favourite brew, bean, and roast.

People, in general like routine. They get up at the same time, get dressed the same way, catch the same bus, tram, train, walk down the same path, past the same group of shops, go into the same café, have the same coffee, made by the same person. If their go to Barista is not there, they’ll think twice about having a coffee, because they don’t have the same level of faith and trust in that person. The job of the Barista is to become an integral part of their customers routines.


Getting to Know Your Customer’s Coffee Preferences

The only way to know what your customers like is by asking them directly. As a barista, you would have likely taken a coffee appreciation course or learned to identify different flavour profiles through experience. Customers may not be able to identify their specific preferences, but by asking them what they like, you should be able to recommend something they will enjoy and keep them coming back. Consider these preferences on a larger scale when formulating menus and creating signature coffee drinks.

Communication also, is vital when trying to assist your customers with their choices. Knowledge to share and confidence in your abilities is what your customers look for, to feel like they are being looked after completely.


Getting to Know Your Customer’s Behaviour

The location of your shop will determine much of your clientele, their routine, and their preferences. Coffee shops in the city centre may attract different clientele from those located on or near college campuses. These are essential factors to consider when building your marketing strategy, menu, opening and closing times, and more. This reflects the broader psychology of your customer’s coffee consumption habits and preferences, so don’t take it for granted.


More Psychological Strategies to Boost Sales

While psychology is a vast field, even when narrowed down to coffee, here are a few more strategies to consider for attracting and retaining customers.

  • Tailor your branding to your clientele and associate your brand with their values and experiences.
  • Reinforce your brand and product qualities through packaging.
  • Tap into your client’s emotions and associate your coffee with positive feelings.
  • Offer personalised options, such as diverse coffee origins, roast levels, brewing methods, and flavour additions.
  • Entice customers with the constant aroma of freshly brewed coffee and an inviting atmosphere.
  • Get creative with signature coffee drinks and seasonal flavours.
  • Use social influencers as proof that your brand is popular and widely enjoyed.
  • Offer discounts, run promotions, and reward systems as a pricing strategy.


A barista can gather only a limited amount of information about a customer at face value. With an intimate knowledge of coffee, by asking questions and noting the bigger picture regarding your customers’ behaviour and preferences, you can sell more and build lasting relationships with your regulars. The best start is one built on coffee knowledge and appreciation, so why not fast-track your career with a barista course?

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