More Expensive - a Glass of Wine or a Cup of Coffee?

There is a huge disparity between the price of gourmet wine and gourmet coffee. Roasted coffee prices range from $2.00 to over $600 a pound. An average Kona coffee sells for $50 a pound, a top-grade Kona coffee costs over $150 a pound. An average quality wine costs about $50 a bottle. However, top-quality wines sell for thousands of dollars.

The biggest difference is comparing prices ounce for ounce. A typical glass of wine is 6 fluid ounces. A standard 750 ml bottle of wine is 25 ounces, which results in just over 4 glasses of wine. A pound of roasted coffee will make 180 ounces of brewed coffee or 30 six-ounce cups. Assuming $100 paid each for a bottle of wine and a pound of coffee, the per serving difference is $25 for a glass of wine vs $3.33 for a cup of coffee.

So why is gourmet wine so much more expensive than coffee? One observation by a wine pundit is that wine must be processed after the crush to obtain the flavors and aromas of great wine, while the flavors and aromas of coffee don’t change after picking. Therefore, wine is more expensive. This may be the most ignorant statement about coffee processing we have ever read. Specialty coffee growers are using numerous mechanical, biological and chemical processes to enhance the aroma and flavors of their beans. Some growers spend months after the harvest processing their coffee beans to enhance their aromas and flavors.

Some realistic explanations are:

Ageing – Wine must be aged; great coffee does not. So, vintners have an added storage expense.

Transportation Weight – Shipping costs for bottles of wine are more expensive than for bags of green or roasted beans.

Cachet High-end wine has had hundreds of years of exposure as a highly desirable gourmet treat. Whereas specialty coffee is a newcomer and has only had a few decades of exposure. Look at the coffee selections in the supermarket compared to the quality and quantity of wine selections. Visit a 5-star restaurant and you are given a huge wine list with vintages in the thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, the coffee menu offers nameless espresso and brewed coffee. (Both probably brewed on their capsule machine in the back.)

Marketing Top quality wine brands market their products through event sponsorships and charity auctions. Wanabe top quality wine brands market extensively in print and social media.

Most coffee marketing is by commercial brands e.g. Juan Valdes and his Columbian coffee burro. Very few specialty coffee brands engage in any significant marketing. What marketing is done is by coffee roasters limited by the number of pounds of that specialty coffee brand in their warehouse.

So, there you have it. Top quality specialty coffee is a bargain compared to top quality wine.

Bon Appetit

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