America runs on coffee?

Infographics by Stephen Catapano, via Behance

I found this infographic on Pinterest, however when I researched where the data came from I found multiple branches of sources. The first “fact” I was concerned with in this image was the 48 million styrofoam cups used daily. I grew up in New York City where there is a coffee cart every half a block. I bought coffee every day at many various locations and I was only ever handed paper cups. Even when buying drinks from a deli or Dunkin Donuts I usually am given plastic, not styrofoam. After researching the amount of styrofoam cups used by Americans, the average was about 1 billion per year. When you use this number to find cups per day it comes out to approximately 3 million per day. 3 million per day is significantly less than the 48 million daily number on the infographic. Next, I found a website that specifically looks at coffee statistics. This website states that the average price of a cup of coffee is actually $1.38. Surprisingly, on the website Statistic Brain I found almost all of the data exactly the same as on the infographic. Noticeably, the data was sometimes reversed to show larger percentages on the graphic. For example, on Statistic Brain it states that 35% drink their coffee black. The opposite of this would be those who add cream or sugar (the 65% on the infographic). Larger percentages and  statistics makes the infographic seem more interesting to read and seems to stand out more when it comes to the facts and figures of coffee drinking.  Almost all of their remaining data points match precisely with what was posted on Statistic Brain.

After following through 4 other sources from Statistic Brain to Live Science Magazine eventually to a study published in  the Archives of Internal Medicine, did I find the original source of the data. the study was actually performed in 2011. I think that the data found in the infographic posted, while interesting, is misleading because of its outmoded facts. This really emphasizes how we should always question the information that we are given and check the relevance of the data.

2 thoughts on “America runs on coffee?”

  1. Interesting work here, and I’m glad you were able to identify an unacknowledged source for the image in the Statistic Brain post. I appreciate your sleuthing on the matter of styrofoam cups, too. Does the Archives of Internal Medicine article contain all the information described in the infographic? Or just some of it? Does it also contain the error you’ve found in the styrofoam-cup count?

  2. The Archives actually did contain all of the data on the chart here. There were only slight percentage differences in the data on here and on the original source. I think that this is due to the fact that in the archives, the data was updated with a more recent study. I also read a recent article about how styrofoam cups are in decline and are being replaced with more paper cups because of their ability to be recycled.

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