What does a cup of Drip Coffee Cost

For Drip Coffee the coffee industry has made it pretty difficult unless you know how a “Cup” is calculated.   The industry standard size of a cup of coffee is 5 fluid ounces.  For example, when you go to Costco or Best Buy to purchase a 10 cup coffee maker, it will brew into a pot that will hold 50 fluid ounces.  A 12 cup pot would contain 60 fluid ounces.  When was the last time you were served a 5 ounce portion of coffee or for that matter when did you last see a 5 ounce cup?  The only time I have ever seen a 5 ounce cup was many years ago when you could buy plastic holders that had a handle and an empty circular slot.  Into this empty slot you would insert a little disposable 5 oz.plastic cup that was in the shape of a cone. When you were done with your cup of coffee you threw away the insert cup and kept the holder for the next person to use……but I digress….

In commercial applications, a 2.2 liter airpot contains almost 75 fluid ounces so therefore would be a 15 cup airpot.  But don’t be fooled.  You aren’t going to get 15 cups of coffee from an airpot.

Given that you can now find 32 ounce cups of coffee, or larger, we should come up with a reasonable size to base our calculations on, and I have selected 8 fluid ounces.

For Drip Coffee, now that we have decided to use 8 ounces as our cup size, calculating the cost is easy.  You just need to calculate these other variables:

  • What are you paying for the coffee?
  • How much coffee are you using to make a pot?
  • How large is the pot?

You will need to use different amounts of coffee to brew the various sizes of pots.  This means the cost per cup will vary depending on how much coffee you use.  This ultimately is a matter of taste, and will differ between different people.  One person using 2 ounces of coffee to brew into a 60 fl. oz. decanter might think the brewed coffee is too strong while the next person might think it’s too weak.  Generally you should use between 1.5 ounces and 3 ounces of ground coffee to make between 60 fluid and 75 fluid ounces of brewed coffee.  The correct amount of coffee for brewing into a 60 oz. pot will not be enough to brew a full 75 oz airpot.

The first step in calculating what your cost per cup is is to calculate what each pot is costing you.  Let’s say you are:

  • Paying $12.00 per pound
  • Using 2 ounces (weight) of coffee
  • Brewing into a 60 ounce coffee pot
  • Your cup is an 8 fluid ounce cup.

Using 2 ounces of coffee means you will get 8 pots of coffee out of each pound.  At $9.00 per pound each pot would cost $1.13.   Therefore, each of the 8 cups will cost?…………………..Just over $.14 cents.

Using 2 ounces of coffee at $12.00 per pound means each pot would cost $1.50. Therefore,  each of the 8 cups will now cost?……………………Just under $.19 cents.

Given that the price difference between a very high quality of coffee and a mediocre cup of coffee will seldom be more than $3.00 per pound, the difference will be less than a nickel per cup.  Is it worth it?


Watch for future posts and I will discuss how to calculate your cost for Espresso and Single Cup serving options.