How Much Does Specialty Coffee REALLY Cost? - I Did the Math
Last week, I bought a whole bean, Rwandan, medium roast coffee at a grocery store chain. By this point, I know what makes coffee good, mediocre, or unfit to drink. Grocery store coffee will generally fall somewhere between those last two categories. My expectations were not high and were not exceeded. This medium roast was actually a dark roast (hello, shiny black beans). The coffee tasted flat and burnt, tolerable, but not "good coffee" by any definition.
So why did I buy it?
I had a coupon.
I get it. Not everyone is money-conscious, but many of us are and make our purchasing decisions based around weekly sales, coupons, and promotions like free shipping. Either our household budget demands it, or we just enjoy saving money where we can.
Specialty coffee costs more per bag than coffees like the one I bought with my coupon, and we actually like the reasons for that. But how much does it really cost per cup? I was curious, so I did some math. Ok, a lot of math. It turns out there is no standard formula to calculate cost per cup because:
Preference. People brew different coffee at different strengths depending on their personal tastes, brew method, and choice of beverage.
Ounces. Your bag of coffee is packaged by ounces in weight. Your coffee mug is filled by ounces in volume. Same name, different numbers. Not confusing at all.
- Grams. When brewing coffee, a standard ratio is 1 gram of coffee for every 16 grams of water. But wait, we were using ounces... and the other ounces. Now we need ounces to be grams? This might take a minute.
If math is your thing, feel free to jump into creating your own cost-per-cup graph. I'd love to see it when you're finished! For the rest of us, here are some rounded figures to help you next time you're deciding what to buy.
The standard coffee mug holds 11 fluid ounces. That will allow you 8 fluid ounces of coffee with a bit of room for creamer, sweeteners, or whatever else you like. Using our 1:16 ratio and all that math, a 12 ounce (by weight) bag of coffee will give you a little more than 23 mugs of coffee. Most of our regular coffees are currently $17.00 for a 12 ounce bag, and our decaf coffees are $18.00 for 12 ounces.
Imagine going through a drive-thru and getting 23 coffees for $17.00. Not a chance! You can get 20 more drinks for your money, just by brewing the coffee yourself at home.
Are you ready for the grand total?
Regular coffee = $0.74 per cup
Decaf coffee = $0.78 per cup
That's about 1/2 the price a black drip coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. It's even cheaper than coffee from McDonald's!
We have a lot of reasons to love specialty coffee: better quality, higher ethics in the supply chain, fresher and more flavorful taste. Now you can confidently add budget-friendly to the list.
Click here to treat yourself to great coffee, and skip the buyer's remorse.
Amy, Founder of Red Eye Bistro