With the number of cups of coffee Americans drink each day reaching a whopping 400 million (or 146 billion cups each year), restaurants, coffee shops and other food businesses are eager to find great wholesale coffee. Americans are the leading consumers of coffee, and in 2008, coffee shops grew at an average of 7% annually. Independent coffee shops generate $12 billion sales each year, and currently, there are around 24,000 coffee shops in the United States. Coffee is big business.There are many keys to success when running a coffee shop or other coffee-serving establishment, including convenient location and excellent service. But perhaps the most important element is an excellent product. Although there is a myriad of coffee types available, while doing research into coffee distributors and wholesalers, consider the following broad categories:1. Gourmet wholesale coffee beans and grounds2. Decaffeinated wholesale coffee supplier products3. Flavored wholesale coffee4. Espresso and cappuccino blend wholesale coffee Find gourmet coffee distributors "Gourmet" is a broad term applied to any product the manufacture considers superior. What is gourmet coffee to one person may not be gourmet coffee to another person. Use your own taste buds, as well as reviews by critics, to determine which gourmet coffees you'll offer your customers. Start by browsing well-known brands, but don't neglect lesser-known brands that might surprise you. Locate distributors of coffee that is decaffeinated The FDA has no authority over coffee, so the term "decaffeinated" can be applied to nearly any type of coffee. In the United States, decaf coffee usually has between two and 13 mg. of caffeine. There are also two ways to decaffeinate coffee; one is "The Swiss Water Process," which is chemical-free. The other method is to use chemical solvents to remove the caffeine. Understanding the difference is important as you deal with customers and coffee wholesalers. Research suppliers of wholesale coffee that is flavored Flavored coffee is typically made by coating coffee beans with flavored oils. However, occasionally, flavorings are added after the coffee is brewed. Research shows that vanilla, chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon and hazelnut are the most popular coffee flavors in the United States. Discover wholesalers of coffee suitable for espresso and cappuccino According to 1995 statistics, 2.5% of Americans drink espresso coffees. Out of American teens, 50% drink cappuccino regularly. And between 2000 to 2005, sales of cappuccino increased by 11.4%. This makes espresso and cappuccino significant parts of the coffee market.