My year in beans: 2012

by on January 23, 2013

Annual recap of how much I spend on coffee in a year

I started this five years ago: I was curious about the variety of coffees I consumed, and particularly about how much I spent on coffee since price seems to be such a driving force when consumers are faced with choosing between cheap coffee and slightly higher priced certified/sustainable coffee. My recording method has been standardized since 2009, but I have refined the method used to calculate price per cup. I was basing it on tablespoons per bag and cup, and I prefer a ratio of coffee to water that is higher than typically recommended. I’ve now gone to using the common industry standard of 11 grams of coffee beans by weight per 6 fluid ounces of water. I have amended my previous calculations, too. Here are my 2012 stats (coffee for a 2-person household):

  • 87 bags of coffee totaling 65 pounds.
  • Total retail price for the coffee only = $1293. I buy most of my coffee online, so I spent $113 on shipping, for a grand total of $1406 for the year.
  • Cost per six-ounce cup: only $0.52 ($0.48 without shipping).
  • The average price per pound (not including shipping) this year was $21.60. This includes four bags of really high-quality coffee which each cost over $45/lb. Most average coffee consumers will be able to bring even this price down substantially without compromising sustainability, or taste.
  • 77% of the coffees were certified organic, Rainforest Alliance, Smithsonian Bird-Friendly, or some combination. This is not to say the remainder were not sustainably-grown. I am do my best to research the source of each coffee and gauge sustainability, since not all farmers can afford certification. I’ve found that the last couple of years some of my favorite producers have dropped organic certification, and other coffees are produced under certification but not sold as such. So while I’ve tried to buy only certified coffees, some were not, but none were cheap, fast-food, commodity, or mystery coffee. If I don’t know where it comes from, I don’t drink it.

Previous results

My four-year average (discarding 2008 stats) is 63 pounds of coffee a year at an average of $20.53/lb, and $0.50 per 6-oz cup, including shipping. This has been remarkably consistent over the years.

Some price comparisions and the price of convenience:

If I drank the same amount of coffee, but used only K-Cups, my annual cost would go from $1300 (average including shipping and some very high-priced, award winning coffees) to just over $2000! This was calculated using inexpensive Folgers K-Cups priced in bulk at Amazon (not only cheap, but one of the worst coffees you can buy in terms of sustainability). The cost only goes up with “better,” organic, or bold (stronger) K-Cups*. So if you are using K-Cups because it’s convenient, you are not only paying through the nose, you are producing landfill-choking waste one little non-recyclable K-Cup at a time. That’s asinine. And please don’t tell me you use a single-cup brewer so you don’t waste coffee. If you are wasting $700+ worth of coffee a year, something is seriously wrong.

I think I’ve shown that “But I can’t find organic/Bird-Friendly/Rainforest Alliance/etc. coffee around here” is a poor excuse for not drinking it. My shipping costs — with nearly all my coffee purchased online — have averaged less than $130 a year (or $2.50/wk). It’s not hard to find free or reduced shipping specials, or flat rate shipping, online. You could get Smithsonian Bird-Friendly/organic certified coffee automatically delivered to you once a month from Birds and Beans for $105/year (even more variety from Birds and Beans Canada). Or design your own monthly coffee delivery from any of Caribou Coffee’s 100% Rainforest Alliance certified varieties for $75/year. Or buy more coffee locally than I do. For example, Birds and Beans is expanding nationwide, and if you don’t have a Caribou store near you, many retailers like Target carry it.  Ask your local retailer to carry your own favorite eco-certified coffees!

Great coffee that helps support ecosystems and rural communities worldwide is not too expensive for all of us to enjoy. You can calculate how much a cup of coffee costs, based on the price of a bag of beans, using the spreadsheet below.

*You can fiddle with the math yourself. Regular K-Cups hold 9 grams, other types hold varying amounts. There are about 454 grams in a pound, so about 50 K-Cups to a pound.

Print Friendly
Revised on February 14, 2013

Posted in Coffee news and miscellany

Jannifer @ iGOZEN January 29, 2013 at 11:44 am

Sometimes stores like HomeGoods have amazing deals on coffee, well in the $3-4 per/pound range even for certain organics.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: