Brew you!

I asked the “barista”, “Why does the small iced coffee cost more than the regular coffee for the same amount?”

She said, “Well it’s brewed separately.”


“We brew them at separate times.”

“Yes but then the regular coffee is also brewed separately.”

“Um, well it’s also the cost of refrigeration.”

“Which I presume costs more than keeping the hot coffee hot?”

“Well we both have to heat it first and then cool it down.”

“I see, then by that logic, your ‘cold-brewed’ coffee should be even cheaper, since it is never heated up, yet that costs even more.”

“Well that one is brewed separately, too.”

“Separately from the hot coffee and the iced coffee?”


“And that’s why it costs more.”

“Yes, they are all brewed separately”.

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6 Responses to Brew you!

  1. highnumber says:

    Wait. What?

  2. Dr. Dad, PHD says:

    You realize this is why I don’t go to coffee shops, right?

  3. Dude, why did you need to be such an annoying douche in the fucken starbucks? The poor schnook you were mercilessly pestering doesn’t set the fucken prices.

  4. simjockey says:

    CPP, I think some of the blame also goes to the schmuck who couldn’t bring himself to admit that he doesn’t have a clue about why the prices are the way they are.

  5. Ria says:

    When I cold brew coffee, to avoid some of the bitterness, I add a bit (~1/2 cup to a 12 cup coffee/water mixture) of sugar and ~4 tsp of mexican vanilla.

    Simple iced coffee (that was hot brewed) is too bitter for my taste, but it probably costs more due to having to add in the ice (ie: need to pay for electricity to chill the coffee after brewing and also to create the ice) as well as additives such as sweeteners, extra milk, etc.

    Anyway, it’s the combination of the additives themselves (the vanilla is the expensive part!), and the requirement of stocking room and temp regulation that would make the difference to my mind.

    Full disclosure: Prior to my scientific career, I worked in coffee shops in the US and Rome part time for ~6 years while in high school and college. I kind of miss the bartender-esque interaction that you can get with customers.

  6. Merridol says:

    Cold brewed coffee takes a very long time to make (24h in the coffee shops where I worked), usually using a toddy that makes a set volume at a time and requires more beans per volume, if I recall correctly. So it really is brewed separately (sometimes not even on site, then shipped to the coffeehouse) and I think the process is more expensive than making drip coffee at high volumes. You could be paying for the toddy itself, shipping, a 24h brew time, or for the losses incurred if someone underestimates the amount the shop will need. Cold drinks can also cost more because the plastic cups are more expensive than the paper or styrofoam cups, and they pass that on to the customer.

    Of course, these are all things that the manager or owner needs to think about, and doesn’t have much to do with being able to make a good cup of coffee. I picked up that info only years in, and then only because I cared. It definitely wasn’t part of my training, and they certainly never paid me enough to make me care if I didn’t already. I worked in coffeehouses to put myself through undergrad, so I’m always sympathetic to people behind counters. I’m not much more coherent than that barista after an 8 hour shift dealing with the general public (shudder).

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