Whether you’re a college student or a parent, back-to-school season is exhausting. To keep up with it all, you might find yourself reaching for a cup of joe or two — and you’re not alone.
We analyzed coffee and espresso consumption data from MyFitnessPal users across the United States and found that entries for coffee and espresso begin to rise around Labor Day and continue to climb until the new year.
Year round, coffee and espresso consumption accounts for 2–3% of total foods logged. That means, every month, MyFitnessPal users are consuming hundreds of thousands of lattes, cold brews and cups of drip coffee. While an increase of a fraction of a percentage point might not seem like a lot, it represents literally thousands of cups coffee consumed by our users.
The back-to-school trend is particularly pronounced when you break users down by age group. Users age 18–24 show a spike of 1/10 of a percentage point in coffee consumption between July and September, right when they might be headed back to their campuses. This trend continues to the end of the semester, when consumption begins to fall back to its summertime levels.
Older users log more coffee than their younger counterparts in general. For users over the age of 40, coffee and espresso accounts for 3–3.4% of logged foods, reaching its apex in January. Compare that to users age 18–24, for whom coffee only accounts for only about 1.5% of total foods logged.
While trendy coffee drinks might be making headlines (nitro cold brew, anyone?), our users are sticking with the staples. Regular drip coffee makes up nearly 80% of all coffee and espresso entries. Lattes come in second place, making up about 9% of all entries.
If you’re one of those grabbing an extra shot of espresso this time of year, fear not: It’s safe to consume about four cups of coffee per day and your daily cup of joe is rich in antioxidants that help prevent disease.
From a weight loss perspective, these benefits are singular to just coffee—black coffee—not the mostly milk and sugar coffee-based beverages from places like McDonald’s (where a large mocha has 500 calories and 63g sugar), Starbucks (a skinny grande vanilla latte has 260 calories and 49g sugar) or Dunkin Donuts (where the medium frozen caramel coffee has 450 calories and 106g sugar). Black coffee with a splash of milk or an Americano (espresso and water) is best, says Sidney Fry, RD.
So with that, feel free to grab your backpacks and load up on java. It’s going to be a great school year!