Wait a Minute – Cannabis Isn’t More Popular Than Coffee


The cannabis community was overjoyed by a 2022 report showing cannabis sales exceeded coffee sales the previous year. No doubt the numbers are impressive. But it is premature to say that cannabis is now more popular than coffee. That is not what the data says, that’s not what the data implies.

Cannabis sales reached approximately $27 billion in 2021, when combining both the recreational and medical markets. Coffee sales in 2021 came in at $20.5 billion. In terms of growth, cannabis increased by some 30% while the nation’s number one coffee provider, Starbucks, reported growth of just 25%.

Once again, the numbers are impressive. But they can be misleading if you choose to look at them through biased eyes. Just for starters, sales revenue reveals nothing about sales volume or the number of customers buying a particular product. In order to determine cannabis’ popularity compared to coffee, you have to consider these other factors as well.

  • Side-By-Side Price Comparisons

How much does a cup of Starbucks coffee cost compared to a typical cannabis joint? How much do medical cannabis products cost compared to their recreational counterparts? All of this matters.

We already know that legal cannabis is more expensive than its black market competition. Legal cannabis is likely more expensive than your average cup of coffee, as well. How much more is not clear. But for purposes of illustration, let us talk about two fictional products. Product A sells for $1 while Product B sells for $2.

Three customers buying Product A would generate revenues of $3. Meanwhile, just two customers purchasing Product B would generate $4 in revenues. Does that make Product B more popular? Not in terms of the number of units sold. Based on that measure, Product A wins the day.

Statistics show that roughly 64% of the U.S. adult population consumes coffee on a daily basis. As for cannabis, the best we can say is that roughly 18% of those aged twelve and older used cannabis at least once in 2020. There are two things to consider here:

  • Using cannabis once in a 12-month span does not constitute regular use, and
  • Including adolescents under the age of eighteen skews the numbers.

From the data we currently possess, it is not possible to say that cannabis is more popular than coffee. All we know is that total sales revenues favored cannabis in 2021. So did average growth.

  • A Limited Audience

Things may change at some point down the road. For now, though, cannabis appeals to a rather limited audience. It always has. That is neither good nor bad. It just is what it is. On the other hand, coffee has enjoyed much broader appeal in recent history.

What is it about cannabis that makes the plant such an acquired taste? Payson Utah’s Pure Utah medical cannabis pharmacy points to its intoxicating effects. There are many people who simply do not enjoy the feeling of being intoxicated. They don’t use cannabis; they don’t drink alcohol; they avoid any and all substances that make them feel even the slightest bit intoxicated.

Coffee doesn’t seem to have that effect on most people. But it does offer a boost in energy thanks to its caffeine content. Coffee is also socially acceptable whereas the jury is still out on cannabis.

No doubt that cannabis consumption is growing in the U.S. That much is difficult argue. But to look at sales revenues and assume that cannabis is now more popular than coffee is to either misunderstand the data or purposely misrepresent what it says. Either way, cannabis isn’t more popular than coffee.