Monday, March 27, 2023


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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Neal Davis
1 year ago

I use a Mr. Coffee coffee maker and buy Walmart’s ground French roast in bags (or cans when available). Can’t quite get my head around going to a coffee shop for coffee. Doubt that I ever will. Did go to one to meet a YouTube sensation when we camped nearby. Guess he and his family frequent coffee shops, but doubt that I will ever go to another. Seems a waste of money, given how inexpensive coffee makers and coffee (or coffee beans and grinders) are.

Last edited 1 year ago by Neal Davis
Bill H.
1 year ago

I use a Keurig I picked up at an auction. I use reusable pods so I can have whatever coffee I want, as can the DW. This means that I don’t have a pot of coffee sitting on the burner cooking down into an almost impossible to drink coffee, or burning to the bottom of the pot. The cost is around $.02 to $.10 per cup, depending upon the quality and cost of the coffee I use.

1 year ago

Cost be damned. I need my coffee.

Steve Comstock
1 year ago

You left out the Jura Capresso coffee maker. I have several, buy and mix my own beans, and it makes every cup perfectly. No pods to buy and coffee is much fresher. If you include the price of the machine in your computations, it may appear outrageously expensive, but consideration must be made for longevity. I have one that has lasted over 20 years.

1 year ago

Don’t know why you added the full cost of the coffee maker into the formula as most coffee makers last years.
Our little 4 cup Mr. Coffee cost $10 and is still working after 6 years in the RV.

1 year ago

Gave up coffee years ago. Don’t miss it in taste but it still has an alluring smell.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

When camping we use a Melitta sitting on top of a spare Mr. Coffee insulated pot. No electricity involved.

Bob p
1 year ago

I have never been in a Starbucks and unless there is a gun in my back never will. We have two Keurig coffee makers one gifted one bought in our TT. We buy our pods at Ollie’s, 80 pods for $16.99. We each drink a 16 oz mug of coffee each morning. That’s our coffee for the day unless we’ve been outside in the cold. That’s about $.21/cup. I’ve never liked McDonalds, too strong.

Richard Hughes
1 year ago

I buy different coffee and blend it. Hazelnut Creme 50%, LaVaza 25% and Maxwell House or Folgers 25%. I use a Cuisinart 12 cup machine. Cost per cup about 5 cents, when I buy the coffee on sale. We also have a small pod machine in our trailer for days we will be on the road. We never buy Starbucks. Our son said it best, “You might as well chew the beans as drink Starbucks!”

Rosalie Magistro
1 year ago

I wouldn’t buy Starbucks if you paid me. I like McDonald’s, especially their iced coffee for my midway craving.
My husband and I have a Mr Coffee machine and we drink at least 3 pots a day. We love our coffee. He has his last cup right before bed, me I’m having a good bourbon before bed..

James Dresser
1 year ago

We have an insulated stainless steel press pot. It’s left over from our tent camping days. It’s easy to store, easy to clean, and the coffee is hot. Never felt any need for anything else.

1 year ago
Reply to  James Dresser

And it’s not breakable! Best thing for the RV.

1 year ago

To each his own. I have no taste and DW likes weak coffee. Between, home, travel, RV, and rentals, we own 4 or 5 percolators (electric & camp) & 4 Kuerigs

Brew a 12 cup pot EVERY day and drink it all throughout the day and/or carry it around in insul cups.

Between the large $4.99 Kroger cans of coffee and the discount K cups {avg .20ea} we average .02 per cup.

Using the metric of 2 cups a day times 365 times two, we are at $14.60 per year.

Quick review of total expenditure on coffee is about $200.

After typing all that I realize no-one really cares how much coffee I drink…

Ellen L
1 year ago
Reply to  TIM MCRAE

I care!

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago
Reply to  Ellen L

Me too.

1 year ago
Reply to  TIM MCRAE

Where did you see discount K cups at .20 each? I’m in the wrong Kroger!

1 year ago

We had a Caribou Coffee (Minnesota version of Starbucks) at work and just needed our employee badge to pay. It was taken off our paycheck. The day I realized I had spent over $1300 and the year wasn’t over I quit. Now a Starbucks or Caribou is a very occasional event.

Vanessa Simmons
2 years 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.

Ellen L
1 year ago

Their objection to a French press was that the coffee gets cold as it brews.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ellen L

My coffee made in my French press is always the right temperature after brewing. It’s a lot more work to get 16 oz of coffee but tastes great.

2 years ago

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

Jim&Jerilyn Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  PennyPA

I’m with you Penny. I’m 72 years old and never drank coffee. Can’t see what the attraction is.

2 years 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.

2 years 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
2 years ago
Reply to  Thomas

decalf= no calf

2 years 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
2 years 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

2 years 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
2 years ago

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

Dan Fabian
1 year ago

Good for you.

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