NZ coffee expert explains why cost of a brew can vary

And it’s undoubtedly true that we’re happier when we pay less. But, regardless of where we buy, should we all pay the same price?

Eight thirty Coffee Roasters’ Jessica MacDonald thinks there are good explanations for the price differences across the country.

“It all boils down to the quality of the components and how much coffee they’re buying, so the quantity of coffee,” Jessica explains.

Think of coffee in the same way you think of wine, according to Jessica.

A barista preparing a cup of coffee. is the source for this image.
“A glass of wine has a different price; you can have a $10 glass of wine or a $20 glass of wine, but they won’t be the same.”

However, unlike wine, the majority of coffee beans are imported from Africa and South America, with Brazil being the world’s largest producer.

It costs money to transport the beans from there to Aotearoa.

“We have to pay per kg of coffee, and then we have to bring it into the roastery, where it needs to be stored, roasted, packed, and then it goes to the cafe, where it is brewed in a cafe, so there are a lot of processes before it gets to your cup,” she says “Jessica explains.

“You’ve got the beans, you’ve got the milk, barista hours, packaging, power, rent, and especially for those who don’t do food, they’re dependent on the profit in one cup of coffee,” she explains.

And, while our appetite for coffee is growing – we imported 16 million dollars worth of Brazilian beans last year, four million more than this year – Jessica says the prices we pay haven’t changed much in the last five years.

In comparison to the rest of the globe, we are not the most expensive.

According to the World Coffee Index 2021, a regular cup of coffee in South Korea can cost as much as $11, a cup of coffee in the United States can cost $5.40, a café au lait in Paris can cost as little as $4.80, and the cheapest coffee can be found in Kathmandu, Nepal, where a brew costs just over $2.

The typical price in Aotearoa is around $4.70, but speciality milk can add up to $1, and the decaf process is also expensive, and is mainly done outside – in Mexico, Switzerland, or Canada.

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