• Nishchay Nath

How much does a cup of coffee cost?

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Coffee is perceived to be an expensive drink. ₹150 for a cappuccino vs ₹20 for a masala chai doesn't make a compelling argument in favour of the former given the availability of disposable income and price sensitive nature of an average Indian consumer of beverages. The eventual perception that coffee develops is of elitism which in a way drives its consumption too. What I mean is that there are consumers of coffee who only drink this beverage for the social status it grants them. Well, at least that is how it starts for most of us (guilty as charged!). A point to note here is that this phenomenon may not be applicable to the Southern states due to availability and lower pricing of coffee.


Since you might be wondering what does the cost structure look like when you go to a cafe, here is how the breakdown looks like:


Note: The above data indicating a price structure at a global average. This cost split can vary depending from size of cafe to quality of beans and brewing methods.

An important point to note here is that while the cost of coffee seems pretty low here, the value add that a cafe does by leveraging the skill of its baristas or the effort put in to create an environment conducive to creativity, work and much more is immense. Cafe experiences are irreplaceable. Period.


But your daily coffee fix can be doesn't have to be expensive or limited to instant coffee. The actual cost of coffee that goes into your cup ranges from roughly ₹10 to ₹30 depending on the type and quantity of coffee used. With the right equipment, you can brew your favorite coffees at home and enjoy good quality coffee for a fraction of the price you pay at a cafe. Let's get to the pricing per cup as per brewing methods.


Home Espresso

Equipment cost: ₹15,000 (entry level)

Assumed life: 7 years

Usage (in # of coffees): 2000 cups

Assumption based on: Link

Equipment operating cost: ₹1.3 (₹5.2 x 0.25kWh)

Average operating cost: ₹8.8 per cup

Mokapot



Equipment cost: ₹4,000

Assumed life: 2 years

Usage (in # of coffees): 500 cups

Assumption is highly optimistic. Actual usage pattern observed is that home brewers use a mokapot alongside other brewing methods. The estimate calculated here is conservative.

Equipment operating cost: ₹0 (heating costs are taken to be roughly the same across brewing methods)

Average operating cost: ₹8 per cup

French Press


Equipment cost: ₹1,500

Assumed life: 2 years

Usage (in # of coffees): 300 cups

Assumption is that chances of breakage are high. Also, one can get bored of a french press quite fast which may turn into an occasional drink by the end of year 2.

Equipment operating cost: ₹0 (heating costs are taken to be roughly the same across brewing methods)

Average operating cost: ₹5 per cup

Pourover

Equipment cost: ₹500

Assumed life: 3 years

Usage (in # of coffees): 1000 cups

Assumption is that it is very sustainable method of brewing coffee. Will probably use it till you want to move on to a better dripper/new dripper

Equipment operating cost: ₹4 per filter paper

Average operating cost: ₹4.5 per cup

Aeropress

Equipment cost: ₹4000

Assumed life: 3 years

Usage (in # of coffees): 1500 cups

Assumption is that it is very sustainable method of brewing coffee. Will probably use it till you want to move on to a newer version

Equipment operating cost: ₹1.6 per filter paper

Average operating cost: ₹4.3 per cup

Channi method

Equipment cost: ₹100

Assumed life: 3 years

Usage (in # of coffees): 50 cups

Assumption is that it is a frugal way to start brewing. A home brewer typically will want to upgrade to a better method within 2 months

Equipment operating cost: ₹0

Average operating cost: ₹2 per cup

South Indian Filter

Equipment cost: ₹300

Assumed life: 3 years

Usage (in # of coffees): 1000 cups

Assumption is that usage levels will be different based on cultural backgrounds. For this case, it is assumed that coffee is prepared everyday using this method.

Equipment operating cost: ₹0

Average operating cost: ₹0.3 per cup

Cold brew

Equipment cost: ₹0

Assumption is that it requires no set up. Any bottle and a muslin cloth will work

Equipment operating cost: ₹0

Average operating cost: ₹0 per cup

Cost per cup summary

The above costing has been worked out for a cup of specialty coffee retailed at ₹400 for a 250 grams pack and a coffee dosage of 20 grams per cup. If you choose a commodity grade bean which costs say ₹250 per 250 grams, you can look at a cost of something as low as ₹10 per cup.


While these calculations are all based on multiple assumptions namely the number of cups brewed, you can use this for reference to get a sense of how much it would burn a hole in your pocket to brew at home. Quite manageable right? Do note that this costing does not account for upgrades such as gooseneck kettles, grinders, weighing scales and more. While cafes do play on efficiencies of scale and are able to pay less per grammage of coffee, the overall cost per cup is high due to the overheads involved. Personally, I would love to enjoy a cup of coffee at my favorite cafes for their ambience and the people. But for everyday consumption, it makes much more sense to brew those coffees at home especially given today's social distancing norms. It's quite cost effective to home brew. Just invest in a method of choice, source some of your favorite coffees and you are good to go!

Suggested readings:

Know more about investing in the right brewing method, click here

Understand the role of brewing parameters, click here

How to cold brew

How to brew an aeropress

How to brew an inverted aeropress

How to brew a french press

How to pourover

143 views

Subscribe to receive updates every Sunday