Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Price We Pay for the Independent Coffee House Experience

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, or even have the occasional trip to a café, then you know how this goes. You peruse the menu, full of exotic-looking specialty drinks, to find that the cheapest is at least three or four dollars. And then, you start thinking to yourself, four dollars?! That’s like the price of a meal, or several meals if I push pennies. So, you move down to the simple drip coffees, cold brews, and house blends… only to find that, yes, they’re expensive, too. Sometimes, you can’t even get an iced coffee for much less than four dollars at some of these coffee shops. In fact, pretty much everything you buy when you go to an independently-run or local coffee shop is going to be a little bit more expensive than at chain businesses that sell coffee like, say, Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonald’s.


The thing is, though, this has become a normal expectation, because, really, you’re paying for a unique experience, atmosphere, and quality of goods when you go to a small business. There are a few reasons to be understanding of this price spike. People who run small businesses spend most of their funds on paying building rent and other exorbitant costs that come with the turf. It’s also likely that small coffee shops are sourcing their coffee beans from another independent business or even roasting them in house, which comes with another whole host of expenses.

And because of all these interfering factors, it can be hard for small businesses like independent coffee shops to stay afloat in a world where you can walk down the street and buy an iced vanilla latte from McDonald’s for just a couple of dollars. The competition is fierce. Coffee is now a thing of second thought. Students drink it, working adults drink it… heck, even children drink coffee now. It has become a necessity, a norm, something which we all, for the most part, believe we would be amiss without its accessibility.

And because of our understanding that it can be cheap – as it is at some chains – it becomes easy to believe that it must be cheap anywhere we buy it. But the next time you go to a small coffee shop or café, consider the thought behind it. Whoever had the gull to spend their hard-earned money to open the shop amongst heavy competition probably was not doing it for a solely money-based venture. They probably seriously care about coffee. Maybe it’s their passion, even. Just like people who open shops dedicated to selling their art care about the quality of what is sold and the customer experience, small coffee shops care about these things, too.

If you want this detailed and cared-for experience, then be ready to pay a little more, because you probably are getting better ingredients and quality of goods, not to mention the personal aspect of a store that is not a chain.

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Hannah Wyatt
Hannah Wyatt
Hannah Wyatt is a freelance writer from Morgantown, WV. She writes poetry, academic papers, as well as online articles and web content.


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