But as a consumer, I can't figure out ANY benefit to paying for a cup of coffee in bitcoins rather than paying in cash or with a credit card.
Yeah, it's great for us when businesses sell mundane things and accept BTC, but even if it were seamless for the merchant (and it already pretty much is seamless) you'll need an incentive for consumers to go through the extra trouble of acquiring and maintaining a bitcoin balance. I'm assuming that 95%+ of people will not care about bitcoin for any ideological reasons, just for practical reasons.
I agree. The normal usage will not come through bitcoins value transfer properties, but its value storage properties.
1. black market starts using bitcoins and nobody can stop it
2. bitcoin value goes up and up forever
3. people move more and more funds to bitcoins, because it is better store of value than fiat
4. when people have no more fiat funds and only bitcoins, they start using bitcoins
And even then, people won't be transfering bitcoins when they use them. For example, they pay with their credit card, and load the credit card later with services like aurumxchange.
So it is a long way, this scenario. Just a theory