I’m old enough to remember when there wasn’t a café on every corner selling speciality coffees. Go back a few years earlier to that and those corners were probably pubs instead.
Anyway, back in the ‘olden days’, you could still get a coffee in a café but it was normally to accompany a meal and it was often served from a jug that had been percolating for hours. The coffee was often rough and only served the function of providing a caffeine hit.
Move to today and you can barely walk 20 feet without coming across a café, van, pop up shop or any hole in the wall that is big enough to fit a coffee machine and a human. The term barista has now a common place word, whereas in the past it was normally associated with a poor spelling for a lawyer.
Over the years, it was my practice to grab a coffee on the way to work to start the day. To me, it was a nice treat to start the day and get me going. Over the years also, the prices have gradually (and sometimes not so gradually) increased and increased. Most recently, I was often paying $4.50 for my morning coffee but occasionally found I was paying up to a dollar more. Many shops I’m assuming trying to justify their prices by a speciality coffee blend that had been sourced from some exotic country from the excreted remains of a camel and pressed individually by hand through a blessed cloth…ok, maybe I’m stretching that part a bit.
Even at only 1 coffee a day, I’m was spending over $30 a week on my morning coffee. Multiply that by 52 weeks and its over $1600! The math isn’t hard if you are a 2 or 3 coffee a day person. It really starts to add up to something significant..
Just out of curiosity, I did a quick Google to find out the breakup of my morning coffee cost. The following table was indicative of what I found.
Though the $3 figure is obviously a bit dated, it provides a reasonable idea of how the cost is made up. Based on this chart, the product associated with my morning black coffee is only $0.35. The majority of the money handed over is for labour. While I definitely won’t argue that a worker should be paid, the coffee normally takes around a minute to make. That’s a pretty decent hourly rate, with the majority presumably going to the owner. I don’t want to get into a big economical debate though, with the main point being that it really adds up to buy my morning coffee.
Anyway, as I’m pursuing the frugal way, my morning coffee is now instant coffee. It took me a while to get used to the taste. While not offensive, I can’t say the instant coffee compares to a barista coffee. I drink black coffee, so it’s hard to mask the taste of terrible coffee so I do tend to spend a little more to buy a good quality instant coffee just to improve the taste slightly. That said, I’m probably talking $2-3 dollars more a can, which still works out massively cheaper than barista made coffee.
My best rough calculation is that I’m spending less than $100 a year now for coffee versus $1600 for barista coffee. That’s $1500 a year that will now be going towards paying off debt and making steps towards by end goal of early retirement.