We Kiwis love a cup of coffee, so much so that a Canstar Blue survey ranked New Zealand the 13th highest consumer of coffee in the world, drinking 2.5 cups a week on average.

But all that coffee can quickly make a dent in the wallet, especially if you're indulging once, twice, or maybe even three times a day.

This week a woman was left dumbfounded when Auckland cafe Mojo on Vulcan Lane charged her $7.30 for a large decaffeinated soy flat white.

The break down of the woman's brew is $5.50 for the large flat white plus 90 cents for soy milk and 90 cents to make it decaf. A total of $7.30.


• Scroll down to have your say

When contacted by the Herald, Mojo General Manager Katy Ellis said they set their prices based on what goes into making "an awesome cup of coffee", noting the cost for ingredients and paying the barista.

Considering the extras, Ellis argues it's a fair and reasonable price: "Given how many of our customers are people who are loyal to us and keep coming back, we think our prices are pretty fair."

While most folks we interviewed on the streets of Auckland disagreed, when the Herald put Ellis's argument to an independent barista who has also worked in hospitality management operations - they completely agreed with the pricing.

"It's much more than just the large coffee. It's the time that barista takes to make it, especially soy and decaf because you have a whole other process to take care of and it slows everything down," she told the Herald.

She said while the added time for a soy decaf is a factor, so is the cost of those materials: Soy costs twice as much as regular milk and decaf beans are also more pricey due to the caffeine extraction process.

"I would also say you are also taking into account the takeaway cup, which can be up to 50 to 60 cents for the cup and lid, especially if it's compostable. You're paying for the overheads. You're paying for the rental of the coffee machine, training, there's wastage.

"There are just so many other components that go into making a cup of coffee," they said, noting it's more involved than making and serving wine, yet consumers don't tend to baulk at paying upwards of $15 for a glass of pinot.


Profit margins on coffee are also in decline, while prices for the consumer have remained relatively the same, they said. In 2015 the Herald canvassed local coffee shops to find an average price for a flat white was around $4.50. That's about the same as our survey of regular sized flat whites today.

"There's not a lot of margin in coffee to begin with. Coffee prices haven't really changed that dramatically in the last 20 years in New Zealand, but the price of everything else has gone up. So we are making much less margin per cup than we used to."

While Mojo's pricing has been put in the spotlight, how does it compare to other chains' coffee costs and charges for extras?

Out of eight popular cafe chains, Mojo did come out as the most expensive option for a large decaf flat white with soy at $7.30. The Coffee Club and Melba were close behind at $7.10.

Director of Melba Group Shawn Pope says he hopes customers will consider the costs that go into their 16oz large size coffee and a great coffee experience.

"We love what we do. We're in the industry, it's about hospitality and the coffee is a major component, but it's also the whole experience and one would hope there is a public awareness of extra costs of running a business. Whether it be wage costs, fuel tax, all those sorts of things.

"I would hate for people to just look at this in isolation, but in the same breath we don't want a cup of coffee to become a luxury item either."

A spokesperson for The Coffee Club echoed the independent barista's comments about the cost of soy milk and decaf coffee: "If you go into any supermarket, you will see that both options are pricier than regular milk and coffee."

They also highlighted, alongside Pope, that New Zealand doesn't have a standard coffee cup size. Given that, they believe their large coffee options, both 16oz, are better value compared to a large at Mojo, which measures 12oz.

Meanwhile, four of the chains - McCafe, Muffin Break, CaliPress and Starbucks - don't charge extra for decaf. Our independent barista noted while it's great that larger outfits can afford to offset the cost, when others put a price on decaf, it seems unreasonable in the eye of the customer.

How much do you think extras or alternatives to a standard coffee should cost?