Coffee drinkers can be fanatical in their love of all things caffeinated.
Does that sound harsh?
That’s because not only do Americans love their “cuppa Joe”, but 150 million of them drink 3.2 cups of it every single day, each cup costing an average of $2.38.
FYI, that $74 billion market excludes items like coffee makers, coffee grinders, and all the other
America’s coffee habit is growing year on year – the figures below indicate how many million 60kg bags of coffee are consumed every twelve months.
Don’t do the math – just accept that it’s a stupendous amount of coffee.
At first glance the coffee market sounds like an ideal niche for an authority site because:
- There are “raving fans”
- They need to make repeat purchases
- They obviously have disposable income
But large markets also tend to be competitive, so let’s take a deep dive to find out if being a “coffee affiliate” is truly worth your time and effort.
After all, the last thing you want to do is register a domain name, write a bunch of content, and then realize you’re in the wrong niche.
The Coffee Industry
One of the things I love about the coffee market is how broad it is.
And by broad I mean there are a ton of different angles you can take with it.
But most important is that coffee drinkers spend a lot of money, both on consumables like grabbing a coffee on the way to work, but also on things like apparel, and coffee brewing equipment to use at home.
This mindmap illustrates several distinct sub-niches you could enter, and all without ever having to write a “Top 10 Budget Coffee Makers for 2019” type of post.
There’s that and the fact that having a site full of “Top 10 Review” pages means your entire business could be wiped out by a single Google algo update.
There are opportunities here for clued-in affiliates to combine a typical niche site with one that sells its own infoproducts e.g. brewing the perfect cup of coffee, or how to train as a barista.
Or even an FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) sideline in coffee gift baskets, for example.
The Industry By The Numbers
- US consumers spent US$74.2 billion on coffee products in 2016
- 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed globally each year
- Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee each day
- 62% of all Americans drink coffee on a regular basis
What Are People Searching For
It’s relatively easy to find a brand new product or service, build an affiliate site around it, and make a quick buck. Then the niche dries up and you have to start all over again.
Once you’ve done that a few times you’ll only focus on niches with a longer lifespan.
So let’s look at coffee trends over the last 5 years
The spikes you see are seasonal ones for November/December of each year.
Apart from that you can see that the handful of topics analyzed show consistent levels of consumer interest.
The takeaway from this is that the coffee niche is evergreen – it’s not going away any time soon. It is also experiencing year-on-year growth according to the National Coffee Association.
As you can see, there’s enough search volume spread across these keywords to work with in terms of supporting content, product reviews, how to guides, etc.
Deathwish Coffee stands out here though because it has 31,000 searches each month, but a competition rating of only 19.
Obviously building an authority site around one coffee brand probably isn’t a great idea.
But there’s no reason why you couldn’t feature Deathwish Coffee as supporting content on your site, taking advantage of any incidental organic traffic.
Coffee Niche Keyword Research
|Bunn coffee makers||1||12,000|
|How to make french press coffee||24||9,200|
|Coffee makers with grinders||0||6,100|
|Gifts for coffee lovers||4||5,300|
|Keurig single cup coffe maker||13||4,400|
|Travel coffee mugs||9||3,800|
|Types of coffee beans||22||3,600|
|Coffee grinder reviews||2||3,600|
|Coffee subscription box||8||3,500|
|Coffee tables with storage||3||2,800|
|How to grind coffee beans||5||2,700|
|Cool coffee tables||2||1,500|
|Best home coffee roaster||1||700|
|Health benefits of black coffee||33||350|
|Online barista training||3||300|
|Coffee and heart health||24||250|
|Compare keurig coffee makers||3||250|
|Gifts for coffee lovers under $20||5||200|
|Bodum french press review||1||100|
I was pleasantly surprised to find that although the coffee market is so vast, that there are literally thousands of high volume and low competition keywords in this niche.
You might also have noticed that the low comp keywords aren’t all clustered under one topic – they’re spread across several sub-niches.
To be honest it was difficult to actually choose which keywords to share with you – there were that many to choose from.
The above table is a perfect example as to why you should never make assumptions about any given niche because you’ll usually be wrong, one way or the other.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”― Henry Ford
One interesting sub-niche is barista training, and whether or not that could be turned into an info-product of some kind.
Coffee tables is another potential niche because it could either feature as part of an authority site, or a dedicated niche site all on its own.
Keywords around “gourmet coffee” didn’t make the list because despite the fact that it’s a growing industry, there’s no data to support building an authority site in this niche.
I also didn’t include keyword research on “coffee enemas” because…well…just because.
Some things are best left undiscovered.
It’s always important to remember that keyword data can be wrong at times, and it’s always best to manually check who your competitors in a given niche might be.
But the lack of search volume for “gourmet coffee” keyword was backed up by similar results in Google Trends.
Who Is Doing Coffee Affiliate Marketing Like A Boss?
Let’s take a look at some examples of affiliates who are already making money in this niche.
It’s always a good idea to check out the competition before you build an authority site (*cough* using the Authority Site System 2.0, of course), so we decided to do the groundwork for you.
- Roasty Coffee (https://www.roastycoffee.com)
The site uses a catchy, brandable domain name which I really like.
Roasty Coffee rolls off the tongue, would look great on a business card, etc. They also didn’t try to shoehorn keywords into the domain name, which was a nice touch.
There’s a nice strapline above the fold “Brew Coffee So Good It’ll Make a Hipster Cry.” For an affiliate site they’re doing their best to sound like a brand name instead of just another affiliate site.
Plus, anything that makes hipsters cry is fine by me.
In terms of overall stats they have a DR (Domain Rank) of 40, and 376 linking domains so they have enough link juice to spread around the site to get pages ranking.
They rank on the first page of Google for about 14,000 keywords, with roughly 1,800 first place rankings.
Long story short, the Roasty Coffee guys are absolutely killing it in the traffic stakes. And that’s why what I found next is really confusing.
That sounded like such a Buzzfeed intro, didn’t it?
A pop-under banner ad appears at random, which is a weird move for an Amazon affiliate site. They’re using a huge amount of digital real estate to get a potential click vs. commission from a product sale.
They’re obviously eager to get people to sign up for their newsletter, which is a good marketing move.
Your own mailing list is part of the natural progression towards infoproducts, or FBA, for a profitable authority site.
What they do well is focusing their content marketing on a mixture of product reviews, and “How to” blog posts e.g. “How much caffeine is in a cup of coffee.”
This is a smart move because it looks and feels more like an e-commerce site as a result. Oddly enough this is similar to what we teach in the Authority Site System.
The length of their articles is good, with lots of keyword-optimized sub-headings. I also love that they sell a barista training course, as the earlier keyword research predicted might be the case.
The “How to “articles display a lot of individual ad blocks, which is annoying at first. But when you factor in how much organic traffic the site gets, this is obviously generating revenue for them.
Poor user experience?
Lots of revenue from clicks?
2. Dripped Coffee (https://www.drippedcoffee.com)
We have another catchy and brandable domain name, but there’s something jarring about a domain with too many vowels.
Probably because it would be too easy to misspell or mistype?
Looking at their site stats you can see they don’t have a massively powerful domain, but it’s still enough for them to rank for 37,000 organic keywords. This translates to over 900 #1 rankings and almost 7,000 page one rankings.
Not too shabby, and considering they’re focusing on keywords with lots of commercial intent, the site should be making a very respectable income each month.
Coffee Drip uses the now-really-popular-with-affiliates magazine layout. To be fair, this layout is more attractive than most themes used by affiliate sites, and it definitely feels less “salesy”.
Their content is excellent.
I love how they keep their “How to” content purely informational, with lots of embedded videos, photos and internal links to other key pages on the site.
So the visitor gets the benefit of not being hounded by ads, and they boost other pages with internal links.
Dripped Coffee is an Amazon affiliate site, so it obviously features reviews, but they do a great job here too.
Anyone familiar with the “10 Beasts” story will recognize the layout, but Dripped Coffee have tweaked it to make it more “natural”.
I would imagine their conversion rates from these pages is excellent, because it deserves to be.
3. HomeGrounds (https://www.homegrounds.co)
This domain name is likeable because it’s a play on words, and it’s also short and memorable. So, top marks awarded for that.
Looking at the upward trend in their referring domains (almost vertical since 2016) it’s easy to understand what they have a DR60 domain, and why they rank for 124,000 different keywords.
Breaking it down, that equates to 1,600 #1 rankings and almost 20,000 page one rankings.
The header image is the first element that sticks out, and not in a positive light.
It’s meant to be clever in a, “I love coffee so much I sleep with my coffee grinder” type of way.
We totally get their angle.
But being clever isn’t always as effective as being obvious i.e. maybe use a stupidly obvious header image instead.
Another gripe with the header is that it’s the “Hero” image type and takes up a vast swathe of the homepage – you can’t even see the first line of content without scrolling.
So the first feedback for the Homegrounds.co team is to ditch the gigantic header image – it’s very 2012.
Their content is a mixed bag.
There are some excellent guides here for coffee enthusiasts, and they appear to have used custom graphics on some pages. The issue with their “How to” content is that you get a few paragraphs of useful text, but then a barrage of Amazon product links.
Less would definitely be more here.
Their review format is also a bit clunky.
For example, using bold text to highlight key phrases is a great way to keep a reader focused. But when you add bold text to each paragraph it gets messy – here’s an example:
Homegrounds.co gets a serious amount of traffic, but their content probably doesn’t convert as well as it could.
That’s a shame because it’s lost revenue.
Coffee Affiliate Site Summary
If somebody was really clever they’d own all three of these sites and dominate most of the top 10 rankings for a whole range of keywords.
Not that anyone would ever do that…no…it would be unethical…or something.
Where these sites all fall down is they only promote products via the Amazon Associates Program.
Because “coffee products” would all fall under the category of “Kitchen” with Amazon, these sites can only make 4.5% commission per sale.
Amazon is a tough brand to beat because they offer consumers super-fast shipping, etc.
The issue for affiliates is Amazon also has some of the lowest commission rates in the industry, and they keep changing these rates.
This makes predicting your income almost impossible.
These sites could almost double their earnings by simply swapping over to an affiliate program that pays out 8% – 10% instead of the 4.5% Amazon pay.
Some coffee affiliate programs pay a 20% commission rate.
Which brings us nicely to the next section.
Coffee Affiliate Programs
|US$55.19||20% per sale||90-days||ShareASale|
The first thing we need to do is clear up some potential confusion- Kona is the geographic location (the Kona coffee belt), but Koa is the brand name of the coffee.
Customers referred to the Koa Coffee website are greeted with a huge hero image of coffee beans. …but you have to scroll down to view their products, which seems like a wasted opportunity.
The range of coffee displayed on the homepage has something for every budget, so this should lead to a reasonably high level of impulse purchases.
A $55 EPC is impressive, but ShareASale only provide it as a static figure with no timeframes attached e.g. 7-day or 3 months. The average affiliate sale is $81, and the average commission paid out is $17.
With all that being said, Koa Coffee gets solid reviews, so you’re promoting an established brand, with an up to 20% commission rate.
|US$26.41 (3 month)||6% per sale||45-day||Commission Junction|
Illy obviously has a lot of experience in selling the sizzle, “…premium Arabica beans, handpicked from nine different coffee-growing regions around the world, that undergoes 114 quality control steps…”
Referred visitors land on a homepage with a big red ‘Shop now’ button, with a coupon code right beside it.
No artistic imagery, just, “Here’s a coupon, now come buy some coffee!”
Straight to the point.
Illy is also a “full service” coffee vendor – they sell everything from coffee beans and machines, to gifts and accessories.
Their 7-day EPC is $35, with a 3-month EPC of $26.41, so affiliates are definitely making money promoting their products.
Overall, the Illy program would probably be best used in combination with other affiliate programs on your authority site.
1st in Coffee
|US$40.58||7% per sale||Up to 90-day cookie||ShareASale|
1st In Coffee might not be the catchiest brand name on the planet, but they have a huge range of products. At last count they have over 400 items in their data feed, so you won’t be stuck looking for products to promote to your audience.
Plus, that $40 EPC means affiliates are making money promoting them.
The homepage for 1st in Coffee is all business from the split second your visitor arrives, with large image sliders showing off a range of enticing products.
A quick scroll down the page, and visitors will find featured espresso machines, “super automatics”, and enough coffee beans to keep a coding team awake for months.
1st in Coffee claim to have an average order value of over $630, which would make this program a no-brainer to sign up to.
Definitely a program to look at including as part of your overall affiliate strategy.
|US$5.60||8% per sale||90-day cookie||Awin (Affiliate Window)|
This is a very slick and well-planned ecommerce site. They offer either a 10% discount code or $5 off coupon straight off the bat for sharing your email address with them.
The design of the site is engaging in a way that many similar sites aren’t. Even the cheesy motivational quotes add to it.
We have to give them bonus points for featuring reusable coffee pods – the only site to put them front and centre.
Awin, unfortunately, does not share EPC figures unless you’re a paid-up affiliate. But Coffee.org is also on Commission Junction, where they have a 3-month EPC of US$5.60.
They have an engaging presence, but their affiliate program doesn’t seem to be performing as well as it could.
|US$25.64||10% per sale||45-day cookie||Commission Junction|
Your affiliate advantage here is that even passive coffee drinkers will probably recognize the Bodum brand name for their French press (cafetiere) coffee makers.
It’s usually far easier to promote a recognized brand name, than try to establish a new brand in any market, especially in something like the caffeine vertical.
Your referred visitors arrive at a very nicely structured homepage, streamlined to incentivize visitors to take action.
…but Bodum don’t just sell coffee-related products. They sell an entire range of household products.
The upside to this is you stand to make incidental commissions when visitors go “Ikea” and spend way more than they’d planned.
The downside is that the Bodum site does not just solely focus on coffee-related products.
A healthy 7-day and 3-month EPC, with an average order value of US$50, and an enviable brand name, does make this a solid affiliate program to consider.
Hawaii Coffee Company
|US$22.09||Up to 20% commission||45-day cookie||ShareASale|
And now we have the second Hawaiian program in this guide to coffee affiliate programs. This wasn’t deliberate – just the way this particular coffee bean crumbled.
When you arrive on the Hawaii Coffee Company homepage you’re instantly hit with a “buy 3 and the 4th is free” offer. It’s always nice to see a strong CTA front and centre like that because it does work in generating revenue.
And of course they stock as broad a range of coffees as anyone could want, with a focus on locally produced products.
They do, however, use the exact same stock photograph of Kona coffee beans as seen on the Koa Coffee site. Not a big deal, but just odd that nobody in their marketing team spotted this.
Affiliates promoting the Hawaii Coffee Company have an average sale of $51.27, and an average commission of $5.95.
There’s nothing wrong with these figures, but they are at the lower end of the earning scale when compared with other programs we’ve featured here.
Pros of Coffee Affiliate Marketing
- Not Saturated: As you can see from the keyword research and analysis of this niche, there are still plenty of opportunities for both authority and niche sites.
- US$100 billion industry: The average person spends $8 each day on regular coffee, with gourmet coffee drinkers spending at least $12 per day.
- Repeat Sales: There’s a new generation of coffee drinkers born every day. The number of coffee drinkers increases by about 1.5% each year.
- Raving fans: Coffee drinker purists are obsessive. So not only will they spend $10 – $20 per day on coffee, they’ll also buy coffee beans, grinders, roasters and more for their home or office.
Cons of Coffee Affiliate Marketing
- Expertise: Coffee snobs can spot “fake” content a mile away. Building and running a coffee site will mean either hiring expert authors, or it needs to be a passion project.
- Trends: Starbucks is no longer cool, and looks to be in financial trouble. Is it possible that coffee is losing its cool status with the current generation?
Should You Start A Coffee Affiliate Site?
It is a competitive market for broad/brand keywords, but there are a number of authority sites ranking on the first page of Google for thousands of keywords.
You simply need to build a better site than your competitors.
One caveat here is that starting an authority site on coffee will mean focusing on the long game – the sites we analyzed didn’t gain any real traction for the first 12 months of their existence.
Even with that being said, there are more reasons to build a coffee affiliate site than not to.