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Why the coffee segment is so strong

Learn more from our Top 500 report


Welcome to First Bite, a Nation’s Restaurant News podcast, your daily source of news from NRN hosted by Holly Petre.

Today, we’re talking about the Top 500 coffee segment.

2021 was a great year for the coffee/bakery restaurant segment, with all of the 10 biggest chains seeing an increase in systemwide sales — some as high as 55.7%.

In the annual Top 500 report, powered by Datassential, Nation’s Restaurant News breaks down the 500 biggest restaurant chains in the U.S. by systemwide sales, domestic units and average unit volumes. The full data also identifies chains by segment, so here we’ve broken out the 10 biggest coffee/bakery chains by U.S. systemwide sales, out of 24 that appear on the full list.

Following the worst of the pandemic, the segment came roaring back in 2021 as consumers returned to their offices and, therefore, their routines. Of the 24 total coffee bakery chains in the Top 500, only five saw systemwide sales decline last year.

Of the Top 10, only one chain differs from the 2020 list, with a growing brand swooping into the rankings at No. 8, replacing Daylight Donuts, which fell to No. 11.

I sat down with managing editor Leigh Anne Zinsmeister over coffee to discuss, what else, coffee chains. Listen to our conversation here.


Plus, catch up on all the top news of the day with our daily news recap at the beginning of each episode.

Be sure to subscribe to First Bite wherever you get your podcasts or on Spotify, or Apple Podcasts.

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