To bean or not to bean – a look at the price of your cup of coffee

To bean or not to bean – a look at the price of your cup of coffee


Coffee. The lifeblood of many. The cup that jumpstarts your morning. The lack thereof creates zombies in offices across the world daily. The joys of drinking coffee are beautifully expressed in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Coffee Cantata, which you will easily find on YouTube. As we celebrate International Coffee Day, we take a look at the price of coffee over the last three years.


According to the International Coffee Organisation, 9 billion kilograms of coffee were consumed in 2014 worldwide. South Africa consumed around 31,5 million kilograms in 20141.


Included in the CPI basket of goods are several key ingredients to make the perfect cup of coffee (although the exact nature of the perfect cup of coffee is subjective and can be discussed and debated at length over many coffee-drinking sessions).


For the purposes of this non-scientific investigation into a cup of coffee we will make a few assumptions. First, making a cup of instant coffee takes 4 grams of coffee. Second, let’s add to this around 30 millilitres of milk and 2 teaspoons or 8 grams of sugar. For now, we will not include the cost of water or cost of electricity used to boil the water.


Using the above measurements, together with the average prices for instant coffee, milk and sugar from the CPI, your cup of home-made coffee will cost you just over R1. Over time, the price of this cup increased from R0,92 in August 2013 to R1,11 in August 2016, a rise of 21%2.


In August 2013, 250 grams of instant coffee would’ve set you back an average price of R28,03. The price of instant coffee saw a gradual increase and in August 2016 you would have paid an average of R33,97, up by 21%.


For the more discerning coffee snobs, we take a look at the price of ground coffee/coffee beans. According to August 2016 CPI figures, the average price of a 250 gram bag of beans or ground coffee was R58,27, up by 43% from the August 2013 price.


A home-made cup of coffee, using 10g of ground coffee and the same amount of milk and sugar used above, would have set you back R2,90 in August 2016, a rise of 38% from R2,10 in August 2013.


The average price of one litre of low-fat long-life milk was 23% more in August 2016 compared with August 2013. The price of 250 grams of sugar was up by 17% over the same period.


Adding a snack to make your coffee-time even better will also set you back a bit more. We had a look at the price of a 125 gram pack of biscuits to go with your cup of joe. In August 2016, you would’ve paid R6,71 on average for the treat to supplement your coffee, up 26% from August 2013.


A cup of coffee might cost you more than before, but being able to survive the day aided by your caffeine boost might just be worth it.


1 Visit the International Coffee Organisation page here.


2 The key word to keep in mind when interpreting these prices is average. Every month price collectors from Stats SA visit retail outlets around the country to record thousands of prices for items ranging from food and beverages to clothing and household appliances. The data are used to compile Stats SA’s monthly consumer price indices. Coffee is one of these items, and the price of R58,27 recorded for 250 grams of ground coffee in August 2016 is an average of prices collected across the country for that item.


Visit the download page for the latest CPI release here.