Is there any limit to restaurant coffee prices?


Virtually every breakfast place in my area closes shortly after lunch time, so I was quite excited to see an all day diner finally open its doors. Overall, the food was good and the prices were about what you’d expect for a big city, with one exception: the coffee was an outrageous $3 per cup.

Now, I’m not talking about any fancy coffee or espresso drinks. I’m talking about a regular cup of drip coffee. A few years ago, I would have expected to pay maybe $1.50 for that. Then it creeped up to around $2. I think one of the other places nearby charges $2.50. But $3 for a mug? Factoring in tax and tip, that’s almost as much as I normally pay for a whole pound of high-quality grounds.

How high can this go? Will customers feel cheated when they see $3 per cup on the bill? What about if the next place tries their luck at $4 or $5? I guess it comes down to what the market will bear. People expect to pay a premium for things like beer, wine and mixed drinks when they eat out. But pricing entrees at a seemingly reasonable level and then using coffee as a sneaky profit center just feels wrong, and I suspect it’s going to hurt repeat business in the long run.