Coffee Cup
"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2018 - All rights reserved

Coffee Cup
How Much Would You Pay for a Cup of Coffee?

Saturday, April 28, 2018
all text and photos 2018 - All rights reserved

   The range of prices we pay for our coffee beans or even ground coffee varies so widely that there are likely few foods, or even few consumer goods that compare. A full bag of green coffee can cost as much as a decent used car or even a nice new car! From the lowest-priced Robusta to beans from Hawaii, Jamaica, or God help us, a 110 pound bag of Kopi Luwak, and let's not forget the Cup of Excellence coffees, the wholesale prices can be extreme. Last year set a record for green coffee at $125 per pound in the Cup of Excellence. Mind you, that is for green coffee. Add shipping and roasting costs, and then packaging and in the case of retail sales, the slotting fees, tack on a bit of profit and even the more pedestrian coffees can become quite expensive.

   This all was brought to my attention, once again, when walking through a local Safeway in the neighboring town where we often shop. We meandered up and down aisles and through the coffee aisle a can of Illy caught my eye. Here it is:

illy can

   100% Arabica blend, medium roast with “balanced taste,” it states on the can. It is ground for auto drip machines, and the can contains 250 grams, or 8.8 ounces. As you can see, the shelf price for that can is $14.99. No math major is needed to estimate the cost. At an astounding $1.70 per ounce, it comes to $27.25 per pound. Without shopping around I saw a certified 100% Kona coffee at $20 per pound, as roasted whole bean.

   We could spend the rest of the week comparing these apples to those oranges, and the financial value of any coffee is one of personal perception. Illy is tasty enough, and if you are brewing full pots so that the can is used in a day or two to prevent additional staling, and you like the coffee and can afford it, that's dandy. Whatever the facts are in terms of how Folgers can sell coffee at prices that defy common knowledge as to what it costs to produce quality coffee, and that is even more astounding when comparing it to the price of Illy. Arabica vs. whatever Folgers is, canned in America vs. made in Italy, and so forth.

   And so we have an orange to which we can compare, I saw a “red jug” of Folgers, with a description much like the Illy (medium roast, ground, “mountain grown” coffee) which was priced at an equivalent $3.90 a pound. Why do I bring that brand up? As I was preparing to take the photo of the shelved Illy, a man came up and choose the large read can of Folgers. That giant jug of coffee states that it can make up to 380 cups of coffee. Three cents per cup! The Illy would be about $.22 per cup.

   So what is the point? I don't know, I was thinking about putting a mark on the bottom of the Illy cans to see if they sell at all from that store. There is money in the area so I assume that someone is buying it, even if just occasionally. But there are a few small roasters in town and down in Chico as well that have very good coffee at prices far below the cost of the Illy.

   I will continue to roast my own coffee and buy my green at around $5 to $8 a pound from my favorite supplier, and have fresh coffee, roasted to my specific preferences.

Coffee Cup
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