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

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