My year in beans: The cost of coffee

by on January 6, 2009

At the beginning of 2008, I started keeping track of all the coffee I purchased. Since I drink (and share) a lot of coffee — all specialty coffee and some quite expensive — I was curious how many kinds I went through in a year and what I spent.

After a year of enjoying a wide variety of beans, my final tally really surprised me — especially how little it cost to truly enjoy this great beverage.

The cost of all the coffee I drank in 2008, including shipping charges and the retail price of some coffee that I was given free, was $987.03. Not a small piece of change, but it works out to a piddling $2.70 a day. Every day, that’s a full pot for my husband and I. Two or three times a week I make a French press in the afternoon. Once a month or more, I share coffee at work with a group to do coffee reviews (or just hang out). I give away a half-dozen bags or so in a year. A lot of indulgence for less than $3 a day!

How much indulgence? My list consisted of 63 different coffees — only two were blends, the rest were single origin coffees. I had around a dozen selections more than once. Some I just liked so much I bought them again. Sometimes I tried the same coffee by two different roasters, or the same coffee but different crops. The coffees came from 22 countries and from 23 roasters.

Unfortunately, I kept track by order and not by bag, so I can’t tell you what the cheapest and most expensive coffees were. Most were 12-oz. bags, and I don’t think I paid less than $8 for a bag. I paid over $20 fairly often, with the most expensive about $35. Because I didn’t keep track of each bag, I am also unable to calculate a price per cup using the nifty tool that I provided here earlier this year. I’ve already set up the 2009 spreadsheet to include these variable so I can provide more detail next year.

I think this is insanely cheap for what can be one of life’s most satisfying daily luxuries. If you drink less coffee than we do, have a good roaster nearby and can avoid shipping costs, or splurge less often on really expensive beans, you’ll spend much less. If you still think it’s too expensive to drink only decent, sustainably-grown coffee, then you are probably only drinking it for the kick. Try NoDoz, and you won’t be destroying the environment and impoverishing farmers for your caffeine fix.

Half cup photo by MissBeckles.

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Revised on November 16, 2010

Posted in Coffee news and miscellany

Clare January 6, 2009 at 10:28 am

Surprisingly, up here my sustainable coffees cost only slightly more than McLarge brand coffees at the stores. My roaster has free shipping which keeps their coffees more in line with the store boughts. I only wish they had less blends and more single origin coffees. Ordering those from other roasters does get expensive as shipping costs factor into it. Shipping from other roasters usually about doubles my costs per pound.

AlmostVegetarian.com January 6, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Fascinating stuff. I did a cost analysis, too, some time ago, only I compared the cost of a store bought product (yogurt) to the cost of a homemade product to see which was more cost effective. But I ran into some snags, such as calculating odd amounts like the cost of electricity.

If you'd like to see it, it's here: http://almostvegetarian.blogspot.com/2008/07/everything-you-need-to-know-to-make.html.

Cost analysis of food is fascinating, but ultimately too complicated for me. I'm far better at eating than calculating!

Cheers!

Amber Coakley January 10, 2009 at 11:33 am

Great info. You've inspired me to keep track of my coffee "stats" as well! We're enjoying the great coffees from one of the roasters you've recommended, Grounds for Change.

Julie January 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Let's convene here next year and compare notes!

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