What Does a Cup Of Coffee Cost: Cup Prices Explained

What Does a Cup of Coffee Cost: Cost per cup explained

In the old days it was easy. There was filter coffee and there was instant coffee. That was it. Today there are a plethora of coffee options available. With choice comes a lot of information which sometimes leads to confusion in terms of taste and price. In this article we try to simplify the options available and give the detailed costs of each coffee option so you know exactly what a cup of coffee costs before you buy it.

Coffee Varieties:

There are 6 different coffee varieties and packaging options available. These are:

Instant Coffee: Instant coffee comes in three varieties: Chicory based instant coffee, spray dried instant coffee and freeze dried instant coffee.
Chicory based instant coffees are instant coffees sold with the brand names Ricoffy, Frisco and Koffiehuis. These consist of mainly chicory with a small percentage of coffee solids and sometimes even no coffee solids at all.
Spray dried instant coffee is coffee which has been brewed and spray dried to form instant coffee particles. Spray dried coffee brand names include Nescafe Classic.
Freeze dried instant coffee is coffee which has been brewed and freeze dried (the most expensive drying process) to form instant coffee granules. Freeze dried coffee goes by the brand names of Nescafe Gold, Douwe Egberts and Jacobs.
Filter Coffee: Filter coffee is any coffee bean which has been ground in as course a way as possible. Because filter coffee is used in drip brewers where only gravity is used to create pressure to force the water through the coffee grounds, the coffee needs to be as loosely packed as possible (or as course as possible) to allow the water to properly filter though. Because any coffee beans can be used to form filter coffee, there are hundreds of different filter coffee brands out there.
Coffee Beans: Coffee beans are made ready for use by roasting green beans (the raw product of coffee beans). Coffee beans can be roasted to any degree depending on what the desired outcome is. The darker the roast, the more the coffee beans have a roast flavour and conversely the lighter the roast the more the coffee bean can be tasted and the less the roast taste is noticeable.
Liquid Coffee: Liquid coffee is formed by brewing large silos of filter coffee and then cooling the coffee rapidly to allow it to remain fresh for later use. Liquid coffee requires a large upfront investment to create it and the applications for liquid coffee are relatively few these days therefore only Douwe Egberts is a recognised producer of liquid coffee worldwide.
Instant Cappuccino Sachets: People love cappuccino however cappuccino coffee machines are not cheap. Hence, instant cappuccino sachets were born. Instant cappuccino sachets are essentially instant coffee with an amount of creamer added which creates a cappuccino effect once mixed with hot water. These are especially popular in markets where cappuccinos are the drink of choice like South Africa and Brazil.
Coffee Capsules: Coffee capsules are espresso portions of coffee which have been pre-packed in little pods or capsule to be used later. Coffee capsule machines have dominated the domestic market for the last 10 years which has seen the boom of coffee capsules worldwide. There are a number of brands of coffee capsules and these includ : Caffitaly, Nespresso, Lavazza, Modomio and many more.

Cost per Cup: What does each coffee cost and how much do you use of each?

Each brand of coffee has its own price so we have listed some of the more popular options with their corresponding costs below:
Instant Coffee: The amount of instant coffee required for a standard cup of coffee depends on whether one is using chicory based instant coffee or an instant coffee which uses only coffee solids (A spray dried or freeze dried option)
Chicory Based Instant Coffee: 4g per cup
Spray-Dried/Freeze-Dried: 1.8-2g per cup depending on brand
The above amounts results in the following brand costs:
Ricoffy Cost Per Cup: Using an average cost of R75/750g results in a cost of 40c per cup
Frisco Cost Per Cup: Using an average cost of R71/750g results in a cost of 38c per cup
Koffiehuis Cost Per Cup: Using an average cost of R67/750g results in a cost of 36c per cup
Nescafe Classic Cost Per Cup: Using an average cost of R350/1000g results in a cost of 70c per cup
Jacobs Cost Per Cup: Using an average cost of R480/1000g results in a cost of 96c per cup

Filter Coffee and Coffee Beans: Filter Coffee and coffee beans are used in varying amounts depending on how strong or weak one likes their coffee but the industry accepted average required for one cup of 220ml coffee is 7g per cup.
This results in the following cost per cups on the following kg prices:
Store bought coffee (approx. 180/kg): R1.23 per cup
Coffee Merchant or Coffee Roaster (approx. R250/kg): R1.75 per cup
Italian Brand Coffee (approx. R400/kg): R2.80 per cup

Liquid Coffee: Liquid coffee is dominated worldwide by Douwe Egberts and whenever there is a market without real competition, prices tend to be high. Liquid coffee cup prices are entirely dependent on the size of the cup dispensed. Taking an average 250ml cup, liquid coffee equates to around R3.50 per cup of coffee (prices do of course vary from company to company and ratios set).

Instant Cappuccino Sachets: Although instant cappuccino sachets contain only instant ingredients (which are among the cheapest ingredients out there) one pays a massive premium for single serving sachets. There are a number of instant cappuccino sachets on the market in South Africa currently with the two most popular being Nescafe Instant Cappuccino and Woolworths Instant Cappuccino. The prices are R4.5 and R4.3 respectively.
Coffee Capsules: Coffee capsules have always been the most expensive of all coffees on a cost per cup basis. With the rise in popularity of coffee capsule machines, there has been a massive rise in the number of coffee capsule brands available. We have listed the most popular brands below with their associated costs:
Nespresso : Prices range from R6.3 to R7.80 per cup
Lavazza : Prices range from R5.50 to R6.00 per cup
Caffitaly : Prices range from R4.5-R6.00 per cup
Generics : There are a number of generic capsules on the market which are compatible with the above systems. Prices of these capsules usually start at around R4.00 per cup.
Last Thoughts:
When considering a coffee machine it is imperative to also consider the price of the coffee which will be used within the machine and the ongoing running costs. The standard rule of thumb in coffee is, that the more expensive the coffee machine the cheaper the coffee and vice versa.
For more info and details about any of the above costings please contact us here.

All the above prices were sourced at the time of writing and can vary form company to company.