There are 6,000 Starbucks stores worldwide, and the chain will add 1,000 units this year.
Need any more proof the premium coffee trend is as caffeinated as ever?
Because people know and love their beans more than ever.
"They know good coffee, and there so many options and places for them to get it," Lange said. "If you're a supplier, you cannot put out bad coffee because they'll see through it."
Lange said espresso drinkers have become so sophisticated, they can recognize a high-quality potent potable just by looking at it. "Someone I was with recently ordered an espresso and saw there was no crema on it. It struck out with him."
Such persnickety preferences have Lou Piancone, Jr., anticipating his distributorship, Roma Foods, will hit a home run with its new line of espresso products dubbed Caffe Piancone Crèma D'oro. The Piscataway, N.J., firm began importing it from Italy this year and unveiled it at the New York Pizza Show in November.
Caffe Piancone comes in three styles: whole Bean; Moka Gusto (fine grind) and a single-serving pod kit. Piancone believes the pod kits hold the most potential because of their ease of use.
"A pod is single-serve portion of espresso placed between two-filter papers," he said. "The pod machine creates the pressure necessary to press out a single serving of coffee. It's a user-friendly way of making an espresso without any waste. And anybody on staff can do it."
Lange said pods are a big part of Consumers Choice's business "because a lot of people don't know how to make espresso. But all you do is put it in, and bang, it's done."
Taste is tops
Piancone said he looked long and hard to find a quality Italian roaster and exporter. The one he found — whose name he won't reveal, but whose factory is in Sicily — is a skillful roaster he likened to a winemaker. "Blending and roasting is an art, really," he said, adding that the beans in Crèma D'oro come from South and Central America, Kenya and Tanzania. "Each type of bean has a certain amount of moisture in it, which means there's a certain amount of time you roast it and a certain way you roast it. There's a lot of skill required."
His goal was to find an espresso much like that he has enjoyed in Italy, yet one with a unique flavor.
"If you go to Italy, you'll find the coffee has a distinct, lingering flavor," he said. "What we were trying to get was something more robust while less bitter, but still with that lingering flavor. This manufacturer has accomplished that."