Why has the espresso price increased?


The bitter news of the increase in the price of a cup of coffee has now consolidated and this has hit the hearts of many Italians.

But let's try to understand the reason for the increase: are we looking for a greater gain or are there much broader and more concrete reasons behind it?

Does it depend on the general increase in costs on each raw material or are there other reasons as well?

The costs hidden behind the cup

What we are normally led to think is that coffee is a sip of flavored water - a pill consumed in a few seconds that recharges our batteries - or a very important cultural gesture, now considered an untouchable right.

But we never think about what's behind that "simple" cup of coffee.

So here are the hidden costs behind running a coffee shop:

  • Payment of the professional barista's contract, which accounts for almost 50% of the price;
  • Rent and utilities;
  • The purchase and maintenance of equipment, first of all the professional machine, the grinder and the purifier;
  • The complementary consumables, such as the sugar packet, the napkin and so on.

After that we must remember the profit margin of the farmer, the owner of the plantation, the broker, the importer, the transporter, the roaster, the distributor and finally the bartender.

If we think that all of this up until a few months ago was satisfied with just 1 euro per hectare, it is unbelievable!

Now I already know what you are thinking: "so the price has increased to earn more ...", but the answer is "NO!".

The increase in costs

The motivation lies in the increase of the costs of all raw materials, as we have already been able to touch at home or at the supermarket.

By raw materials I do not only mean the mere cost of raw coffee, but also the double-digit increase in the packaging used, namely plastic, aluminum (now almost unavailable), cardboard and tinplate. And again, the increases in energy carriers, ie electricity and gas, and fuels, which are fundamental for the distribution of the product.

The same cup and saucer increased by 20%, the sugar bag by 30%, the milk by + 60% and the sprinkling of cocoa on the cappuccino by + 20%.

In this sense, we must try to make a mental effort and understand that those 0.10 cents increase will allow the entire supply chain and our dear bartender to survive and certainly not to obtain greater profits. We must go beyond appearances and beyond what we have always thought, namely that "coffee must cost € 1 and I don't want to hear stories!" ... Let's try to understand that coffee is never simple and banal and that it is a matter exceptional first, which travels around the entire globe for months and months.

All of this must have a fair price and it is by no means certain that 10 cents more will be enough.

I had already talked about this in a video posted on our different social channels:

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Perché è aumentato il costo del caffè crudo?

There are two factors:

  • Environmental risks;
  • Cost and logistics of transport.

As we all know, the climate crisis is affecting every aspect of our life and the planet earth. Consequently it also influenced the cultivation of coffee.

In fact, there was a first period of drought and then intense frosts in Brazil, the world's largest producer of coffee.

Compared to 2020, farmers have harvested almost 40% less.

Excessive humidity also damaged crops in Colombia, the second largest producer in the world.

So the less raw material available, the more it costs.

Transport logistics must also be added to the adverse weather: the ports were congested, hundreds and hundreds of container ships were blocked for months outside the ports, without the possibility of docking. And those that left were so few that they played upwards for their loading ... that is, even if you had already reserved the place for your goods, only the product of the highest bidder was loaded, causing their costs to skyrocket.

To be concrete and practical, a container cost 3,000 euros a year ago, now it also costs 12,000.

Analyzing all these factors, we almost ask ourselves: how is it possible that the cup has only increased by 0.10 cents?

Because, even if it doesn't seem like it, in order not to weigh too much on consumers' pockets, most of the increases have been absorbed by farmers, importers and roasters.

Finally, I would like to focus on another aspect: quality.

An espresso coffee consumed in Piazza San Marco in Venice, priced at € 10.00 is not justified for the quality or for these increases just mentioned, in this case you pay for the difficulty of transport by couriers, the incredible position and the rent.

In fact, the running costs of a coffee shop in Piazza San Marco or in the center of Milan cannot be compared with a small bar in the province.

However, normally the cost is not justified by the strategic position, but by the quality!

If, on the other hand, the coffee offered has certifications that determine the quality, the harvesting methods, the processing methods, the control over the sustainability of the entire supply chain; if it is roasted only by professionals who are aware of what they are doing and so on, why not pay € 2.00 for it too?

We find on the market coffees with no indication of the composition of the blend on the label and others that even tell you the precise plantation of origin, the botanical variety and so on.

There are baristas who don't even know the brand of coffee they buy - try asking at the bar next time and you'll see for yourself - and others who know their product better than anyone, have invested in their training and have great communication skills.

You pay for quality!

We have already accepted it when it comes to other goods: we understand the difference in price from a bag produced on a large scale, rather than a signed one and the difference between a frozen brioche and a fresh pastry. We are aware that at the supermarket we can find packages of more or less good pasta, and so on for everything that surrounds us.

But we can't accept it for coffee!

We know that if we want to be cheap, a few euro bottle of wine is enough, but if we want to make a good impression at friends' homes for a dinner, it takes at least € 10.00 and we check the label and the production cellar.

The coffee is identical!

We are truly convinced that coffee cannot be different, that one is as good as another and that it is a trivial matter ... but it is not!

I hope that with this article the question of increases is now all a bit clearer and that it has succeeded and understood the reasons.

Martina Mazzoleni 

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