Bean Counting: What’s the Cost of Your Office Coffee?

Did you know the average size of a cup of coffee is 9 oz. and that the average U.S. coffee drinker downs approximately three cups per day? Thirty-five percent of coffee drinkers prefer their coffee black, while 65 percent of people add cream and sugar; in addition, 30 million people enjoy specialty beverages such as mochas, cappuccinos and lattes. And, 100 million people in the U.S. drink coffee every day. That’s a lot of coffee!

So, you’ll probably want to know how much the coffee you’ll be providing to your employees (and perhaps customers, too) will cost. The most simple answer: It depends on the beans and the coffee machine.


Traditional Drip Coffee Makers

A traditional drip coffee maker can cost anywhere from $15 for a basic model up to $200 for a top brand name. A traditional 11- or 12-ounce can of ground drip coffee tends to cost around $5 and is often advertised as yielding 90 servings, depending upon how much coffee you use for each brew cycle. In actuality, according to Oren’s Daily Roast CEO Oren Bloostein, these cans only make 30 to 35 six-ounce servings.


Whole beans, on the other hand, are believed to create better-tasting, higher-quality coffee and can run between $8 and $15 per pound. A pound of whole beans will normally produce 45 six-ounce cups. Thus, the price difference between ground and lower-cost whole beans is negligible: ground coffee costs about 16 cents per cup, while coffee brewed from $8 per pound whole beans costs approximately 18 cents per cup.


Additional considerations include purchasing:


  • Disposable paper filters ($2 to $10 per package, depending upon factors such as brand, quantity and retailer).
  • Milk (generally, $3 to $4 per gallon).
  • Cream (approximately $5 per pint).
  • Sugar (usually $2 per pound).


Permanent filters, which aren’t replaced and don’t wear out over time, are also an option; they cost around $10 or $20. And, according to Yahoo writer Laurel Rockefeller, washable, biodegradable cotton filters are an eco-friendly option that can yield better-tasting coffee as they allow more coffee oils to be released during the filtering process.


Pod Coffee Makers

Start with a $100 to $300 price range for a pod coffee maker. Boxes of K-cups (single-serve coffee “pods”) vary widely in price, from around $8 for 16 K-cups up to $60 for a package of 72 K-cups. Permanent, refillable filters for pod coffee makers have been made in response to the high costs associated with buying single-cup pods, and can be purchased for around $15.


According to a 2012 New York Times article, pod coffee makers can be an expensive option as you’re paying for convenience as well as the technology that makes this convenience possible. Pod coffee can cost from 45 cents to nearly a dollar per serving.


Espresso Makers

Espresso makers tend to be on the costly side: they range in price from around $200 to $1,000 for relatively simple models to more than $20,000 for commercial machines. According to Investopedia writer Erin Joyce, you can expect to pay around $10 to $20 per pound for espresso, which comes out to approximately 22 shots at 45 to 91 cents each. Keep in mind that some drinks such as lattes may use more than one shot.

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