Saturday, October 23, 2021


Do you pay $2,007.50 a year for coffee? Here’s a breakdown of what you may be paying

By Barry Zander
Ever wonder how much you spend on coffee when on the road? There’s research you’ll find interesting … but probably won’t change your habits. If you make daily stops at fast-food restaurants around midmorning for a cup of coffee, there are benefits, but the cost might surprise you. We’ll break it down for you.

The coffee might be satisfactory, or you may just chalk it up to a good opportunity to get out and stretch. As far as the money, a comparison on the Time magazine blog site from recent research showed prices range from 3 cents a cup to $2.75. No mention was made about McDonald’s, an RV favorite for years because of parking availability, where a cup o’ Joe is $1.00 plus tax.

The survey was based on standard, non-flavored coffee and included the cost of the coffee maker. It misses the convenience of brewing the coffee of your choice in your rig, which can mean instant or camp coffee (ground coffee made in a strainer with hot water poured over it), which we resort to when the campground quiet hours intrude on our awake hours.

What the very telling article succeeds in doing is to compare the cost per cup based on two cups per person per day and multiplying to show the annual cost. Here’s the gist of Time’s findings:

  • Mr. Coffee: $0.03 per cup
  • French press: $0.22 per cup
  • Keurig: $0.48 per cup
  • McDonald’s: $1.00 (I included this)
  • Nespresso: $1.10 per cup
  • Starbucks (plain cup of coffee): $2.75

Of course the “devil or angel is in the details.” A basic Keurig machine brews a cup at $0.48, which, again, includes the cost of the brewing machine. At two cups per day, the yearly cost (with machine) comes to $533.50. If you’re satisfied with your Mr. Coffee, it’s at the very low end of $0.03 per cup, which will set you back $45.90 a year, about the same as one cappuccino in a five-star hotel restaurant.

A French press cup costs $0.22 or $160.60 annually. We tried that for a while but were dissatisfied because the coffee got cold while it was brewing – a personal observation. After tasting a cup of Nespresso (pods cost $1.00 to $1.10 each), we bought a machine to fill the cabinet in our RV built for a vintage fat TV. At $1.10 per cup, our annual cost per person is $962.00.

Happily, we have a generator in our RV. Nowadays we look for a scenic spot to park, crank up the generator and have a pause that refreshes at $1.10 per cup – more than McDonald’s but consistently tastier. One caveat is when “no-generator hours” are later in the morning, we resort to Nescafe Instant or just camp coffee.

Finally, the one that you’ve been waiting for: the average price of a regular cup at one of Starbuck’s 30,000 outlets is $2.75, which varies greatly by location. That’s obviously for a standard cup of coffee, which probably doesn’t get requested often (another personal observation). That mounts up to $2,007.50 yearly!

Let’s be honest. Most coffee drinkers have their own taste preferences. Just look at the shelves of ground, whole-bean, instant, and favored bags and cans on supermarket shelves. Add in latte, cappuccino, espresso, sweetener, biscotti, on and on, and you’ll probably be able to justify continuing with the brands and restaurants you always use. The comparison authored by Samantha Rosen of Time brings in lots of alternatives, and she mentions that because of the work-from-home environment, the business is changing for coffee shops. No need to panic, though. The caffeine craze is sure to continue, along with the need to get out and stretch.



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Vanessa Simmons
1 year ago

I use a french press and I don’t understand how it can be more expensive than Mr Coffee. It costs me $12 and I don’t need filters. Mr Coffee costs at least twice that and the filters. Boil water on the stove or the induction cooktop.

1 year ago

I KNEW there was a reason I don’t like coffee…or tea.

1 year ago

I’m not sure why that study(?) was done or if it even makes sense or why I even read that article but if I get too cheap or so poor that I have to worry about my coffee budget, I’ll learn to rob banks to support my habit.

1 year ago

I’m cheap.i brew my coffee with an old corning ware (white porcelain with blue wildflowers) and buy mostly Kroger 30 oz decalf at $4.99. Sits on the propane burner, no genny required. Over the flame you can make it as weak or as strong as you like it.

chris p hemstead
1 year ago
Reply to  Thomas

decalf= no calf

1 year ago

$2.75 a day for a cup of Starbucks each for 365 days is only $1,003 per year. Worth every penny too.

RV Staff (@rvstaff)
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex

Hi, Alex. When you say “a cup of Starbucks each” — if that means there are two of you, the total comes to $2007.50. So glad I don’t like coffee! 🙂 —Diane at

1 year ago

I’m pretty sure almost nobody is stopping for coffee two times per day, 365 days a year. For one thing, all that standing in line is time consuming. We’ve always made our first thing in the morning coffee ourselves, but on travel days, we’d stop for coffee somewhere on the road. We cut way back on that when we realized that between finding a decent place, parking, walking, standing in line, etc, even a quick stop to get something to go was taking at least half an hour, and it was interfering with our ability to get anywhere. Now we only stop if we really want to sit down and enjoy the coffee.

chris p hemstead
1 year ago

I don’t care what I pay for Starbucks. I can afford to buy what I like.

Nanci Dixon
1 year ago

While at my corporate job we could buy Caribou (think Starbucks) and charge on our employee badges. The day I really looked at what was deducted from my paycheck for coffee- $1,250 for not even a whole year I quit cold turkey. Started bringing my own Mountain Dew to work….

Dave R
1 year ago

Love my cold brew coffee. You pick the beans and just let them seep for ~24 hours (after grinding of course).

Rock & Tina
1 year ago

It’s not one of your “electric” options but I use a Farberware 50124 Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Stovetop Percolator. Makes about 8 cups of perfect coffee in about 10 minutes on the stovetop using inexpensive ground coffee. I pour it into a quality stainless steel thermos and have great hot coffee all day long for pennies on the dollar. Works great for travel days too.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rock & Tina
Ed and Susan
1 year ago
Reply to  Rock & Tina

We love our stovetop coffee maker. Perfectly brewed to our desire for strong or weak coffee.

Tom B
1 year ago

When camping, I make the coffee for DW, as I am usually awake first. I use a Bialetti espresso pot (4 cup size was $15.00 at TJMAXX) and inexpensive stores brand coffee. Because it comes out rich and strong, even the cheap stuff satisfies. (Remember to tamp it down…) I don’t need electricity to make it, and can use my stove inside or my camp stove outside. In insulated mugs (from RecPro) we can take the time to enjoy a leisurely cup as we make our plans for the day.