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Thread: Long black same price as latte - fair?

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    Long black same price as latte - fair?

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    Recently I've been drinking more long blacks, which is fine except I get really annoyed paying the same price as a latte.

    Yeah the long black uses the same machine, same overheads, etc, but it takes less effort and there isn't the milk cost, so I struggle to see why it should be the same price.

    If these cafes charged the same for a soy then I'd say it's fair enough, but they invariably add on 50c for soy, so why not knock off 50c for a long black?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    Recently I've been drinking more long blacks, which is fine except I get really annoyed paying the same price as a latte.

    Yeah the long black uses the same machine, same overheads, etc, but it takes less effort and there isn't the milk cost, so I struggle to see why it should be the same price.

    If these cafes charged the same for a soy then I'd say it's fair enough, but they invariably add on 50c for soy, so why not knock off 50c for a long black?
    I'd argue that it takes more care (assuming they do care) to get any black coffee right than it does to run a milky coffee. Milk (to some extent) will mask a shot that missed the bullseye. With a black, defects are patently obvious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    I'd argue that it takes more care (assuming they do care) to get any black coffee right than it does to run a milky coffee. Milk (to some extent) will mask a shot that missed the bullseye. With a black, defects are patently obvious.
    x2 Also, Long Blacks take a double shot. Also coffee is cheap anyway. Perhaps we should be asking why milk coffee's are not more expensive?

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    actually the cost of the raw materials represents only a mere fraction of the overheads of running a cafe business

    If you were to factor in all of the variables in putting a long black or any other coffee together in a cafe environment such as rent, wages, electricity, cost of equipment including a dedicated grinder just for long and short blacks, dedicated and purpose roasted beans just for espresso, and the labour costs associated with putting the coffee on the table and then cleaning it up afterwards, I think you would find that $5 per cup is much closer to the mark when calculating what it costs to produce that cup of coffee - and that's not including return on original capital investment ...

    Personally I want value for money no matter what the price - and if its an excellent cup of coffee featuring quality ingredients made with passion by someone who gives a shit about what they're doing, then to me at least that represents value for money

    And let's not also forget that for those places using dedicated grinders for long black etc: unless you're constantly pumping out espresso and long black coffees (as opposed to milk based) then you're probably dialing in the grinder on a regular basis - and quite probably discarding a few shots in the process, to maintain quality control

    Agreed, four bucks is a lot to pay for a crap coffee, but it's not a lot to pay for a great one - besides, why settle for anything less?

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    Maybe the long black drinkers are subsidising the latte drinks?

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    Quote Originally Posted by thegoner View Post
    Maybe the long black drinkers are subsidising the latte drinks?
    Nuhuh....Poverty stricken pickers who receive $3/day are subsidising us all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by askthecoffeeguy View Post
    actually the cost of the raw materials represents only a mere fraction of the overheads of running a cafe business
    Couldn't agree more, but then why charge extra for soy? And if you're using a quality milk, it must cost $2 per litre, so 20c per smallish latte? Is that significantly different from the cost of soy? (Genuine question as I've never bought soy)

    Quote Originally Posted by askthecoffeeguy View Post
    If you were to factor in all of the variables in putting a long black or any other coffee together in a cafe environment such as rent, wages, electricity, cost of equipment including a dedicated grinder just for long and short blacks, dedicated and purpose roasted beans just for espresso, and the labour costs associated with putting the coffee on the table and then cleaning it up afterwards, I think you would find that $5 per cup is much closer to the mark when calculating what it costs to produce that cup of coffee - and that's not including return on original capital investment ...
    C'mon Pat, if that was the case there wouldn't be a cafe open in Melbourne or Sydney...with every coffee losing them $1.50 they'd need to be selling a whole load of food to make up the losses!


    Quote Originally Posted by askthecoffeeguy View Post
    And let's not also forget that for those places using dedicated grinders for long black etc: unless you're constantly pumping out espresso and long black coffees (as opposed to milk based) then you're probably dialing in the grinder on a regular basis - and quite probably discarding a few shots in the process, to maintain quality control
    I'm not sure many of the cafes I visit have dedicated grinders for black coffee. They always seem to use their regular house blend grinder. Of course some cafes will have different beans in different grinders, but I reckon that's 1% of the cafes in Melbourne? (Excl decaf)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talk_Coffee View Post
    I'd argue that it takes more care (assuming they do care) to get any black coffee right than it does to run a milky coffee.
    Chris I defer to your expert judgement, I can completely see how it would take some skill to pull a superb shot, but it's patently not what happens in the real world, where espressos are simply the regular shot in a smaller cup with no milk. (And no care)

    If you were in the city I'd gladly pay $4 or even $5 for the shots from your lever machine compared to the $3 flat shots that most cafes pump out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon View Post
    Couldn't agree more, but then why charge extra for soy? And if you're using a quality milk, it must cost $2 per litre, so 20c per smallish latte? Is that significantly different from the cost of soy?
    Your looking at about $3-4 for one lite good quality soy (like bonsoy).

    The material costs and overheads in the coffee vary so much it's surprising prices remain in such a small range. Green prices can be anywhere from less than 0.50c a pound to $5, $10 or even $170! (Record worldwide price). Milk can cost $2-4. Barista wages $16-$35+ etc. coffee prices remain in the $3-4.5 for a regular more because its the accepted market cost rather than being based on the actual cost of product. Coffee, as with everything else, is a supply and demand market. It costs what it cost because people are willing to pay that cost.

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    FWIW, I think most great coffee is too cheap and the crap stuff is way too dear. I'd also gladly pay $4-5 for great stuff and choose to pass on the nasty stuff. Sadly, given a market for $2 cleanskin wine, there will always be a market for $2 dishwater.

    I really don't think the day that espresso based drinks in specialty cafes and commodity outlets are separated by a good dollar or two is too far away... Nobody expects to be served Wagyu fillet for $10, so why not coffee?

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    Capitalism.. that's why long blacks are not cheaper.

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    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    Having said that many cafes charge less for a shot of espresso on the basis that they're happy to showcase what they do at a price that entices punters to have a go for that kind of money - besides which to my mind charging less for an espresso encourages bums on seats and promotes the whole "I'll just stand at the counter and have a quick chat to the barista while I'm knocking back my coffee, and then I'm off again," mentality - and to me that's a good thing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by askthecoffeeguy View Post
    Having said that many cafes charge less for a shot of espresso on the basis that they're happy to showcase what they do at a price that entices punters to have a go for that kind of money - besides which to my mind charging less for an espresso encourages bums on seats and promotes the whole "I'll just stand at the counter and have a quick chat to the barista while I'm knocking back my coffee, and then I'm off again," mentality - and to me that's a good thing!
    Yep that's true Pat, there definitely isn't enough of that counter culture in Australia.

    Where I'm coming from is that I'm guessing practically everything on a cafe menu has a unique price, which to a greater or lesser extent is driven by the cost of the ingredients.

    Admittedly the link can be a little tenuous, indeed there's often a price arbitrage for the value hunter in picking the items on the menu that have the best cost-to-price ratio, perhaps a breakfast with avocado when they're at a high price but the cafe owner decided to absorb the price increase.

    But my point remains that if sticker price for all food in the cafe is driven by the raw ingredient price, shouldn't the coffee also be driven by the raw ingredient cost? After all, most cafes are applying this principle to soy.

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    I guess we see price rationalisation in all aspects of life eg raspberries $7 for 150g oranges $3 for 3kg yet marmalade and raspberry jam cost the same!
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    From a practical point of view most cafe's, at least every cafe I have worked for, use a fairly simplistic and similar system for working out coffee price. The base price of the coffee may change a little cafe to cafe but it basically works like this.

    $3 for a single shot of coffee i.e short black (not common everywhere but is becoming more prevalent)
    add 0.50c to add milk. Therefore basic milk coffee $3.50
    add 0.50c extra shot. Therefore a strong milk coffee is $4.00 and long black is $3.50 due to adding an extra shot on a single black coffee.
    add 0.50c soy
    add 0.50c large
    etc etc
    each of these elements have a trade off profit wish making some coffee orders e.g soy less profitable and some e.g black coffee more profitable from a raw material perspective. And that's the price both cafe owners and consumers pay for a relatively simple system. To actually base the prices on a fixed profit increase on consumables there would be such a wide variance in prices from one coffee order to the next it would be for more trouble than its worth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonster View Post
    I guess we see price rationalisation in all aspects of life eg raspberries $7 for 150g oranges $3 for 3kg yet marmalade and raspberry jam cost the same!
    I don't think that comparison has any relevance. To paraphrase the common saying, you're not comparing raspberries with raspberries. The fruit that is grown for whole consumption is different to the fruit that is grown for jam. Therefore the costs are not the same.

    Some cafes could drop the price a few cents for long blacks, but on the whole I don't think they are rolling in little gold bars, so I'm happy to let them have that one.

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    Senior Member askthecoffeeguy's Avatar
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    Then presumably the same thing can be said for food costs?

    The rule of thumb for food markups as I understand it is a markup of 400 per cent on the raw ingredients - which seems to hold true for most joints except perhaps those at the very top end which have to absorb excessive labour costs as well

    Having worked with chefs and developed menus for nearly 20yrs I can pretty much glance at a dish now and calculate what it cost to make pretty quickly in my head - then extrapolate from there what the markup is based upon the sale price

    Went for dinner on Brunswick Street the other night and worked out that the food had been marked up by 600per
    Cent on average - which would be fine if the dishes were well executed -
    But for the main part they were slapped together without much love

    So to me at least my original point still applies, if you're happy with the meal / coffee - or whatever - for the price you pay and you think it represents value for money based upon quality of ingredients and skill of execution, then that seems to me to be a fair deal

    Hell, I'd gladly pay more than $5 for a truly remarkable and excellent cup of coffee - especially if it can be repeated with precision - put i resent paying less for an ordinary one when I know I can make better myself at home...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gustopher View Post
    ....each of these elements have a trade off profit wish making some coffee orders e.g soy less profitable and some e.g black coffee more profitable from a raw material perspective. And that's the price both cafe owners and consumers pay for a relatively simple system. To actually base the prices on a fixed profit increase on consumables there would be such a wide variance in prices from one coffee order to the next it would be for more trouble than its worth.
    Yes, and any attempt at fixed profit rate would only be a fixed gross profit. They all absorb overhead, and not necessarily in proportion to their raw material cost.

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    As with pretty well everything, value for money determines whether I will go back or not.
    Cheap coffee won't ensure a return visit unless it is good.
    Expensive coffee will only ensure a return visit if it is excellent.
    Long blacks are very 'quality sensitive' and I quickly forget what I paid for it if it is very good.



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