October 7, 2004

Inflation strikes the caffeine supply: A continuing series

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at October 7, 2004 4:39 PM

This blog can be relied upon to keep a hawk-like eye on the price of caffeinated beverages (except when it is eyeing the person selling these items). Today we turn our attention to a Slate article on Starbucks' impending price hike.

For many Americans—at least those of us addicted to the national drugs of petroleum, nicotine, and caffeine—life is increasingly unaffordable. Crude oil topped $50 per barrel. Cigarettes have become more expensive in many states thanks to new taxes. And this week, faced with sharp increases in the costs of sugar and coffee, Starbucks announced it would boost the price of its already-pricey espressos and macchiatos by an average of 11 cents.

This particular announcement is of little interest to this blog; while one or two Starbucks do operate in the vicinity of Arcane Gazebo World Headquarters, they pale in comparison to the many fine local establishments. (I also live one block away from the original Peet's.) Unfortunately, the increase in the cost of coffee cited by Slate does not affect Starbucks alone. Caffe Strada* has recently hiked all espresso drinks by 30 cents. This suggests a need for UCB to grant a cost-of-living increase in graduate student stipends, given the critical role of coffee in maintaining high research productivity. The other coffee shops I frequent have yet to impose their own markups, but I suspect it is only a matter of time.

An interesting side note in the Slate article may explain why Starbucks continues to draw customers, even in a place like Berkeley:

The Wall Street Journal earlier this year sent samples of coffee from Starbucks, 7-Eleven, and Dunkin' Donuts to Central Analytical Laboratories. The lab reported that a 16-ounce Starbucks house blend coffee contained 223 milligrams of caffeine, compared with 174 and 141 milligrams in comparable amounts of Dunkin' Donuts and 7-Eleven coffee, respectively. According to the Journal, the average Starbucks coffee drink contains 320 milligrams of caffeine. (This chart from the Center for Science in the Public Interest shows different measurement levels, including the scary finding that a 16-ounce Starbucks grande has nearly three times as much caffeine as a No-Doz.)

That'll keep 'em coming back...

*A southside cafe, in case you were wondering.


Ah, Peet's is awesome! That totally rules that you live so close to the original one.

I go to Starbucks quite a bit, but it's a convenience issue. When I was in Berkeley, I went to a Starbucks exactly once (again, because I was right there), because there are _so_ many much better places to go...

Posted by: Mason | October 8, 2004 7:13 PM

I just saw this on Yahoo! News and thought of all of you science-types and your fondness for the dark mistress coffee...


Posted by: Tracy | October 19, 2004 1:48 PM
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