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Coffee Economics: The Cost of our Caffeine Kicks

Suzannah Van Rooy

Treating yourself to a cup of coffee a day sounds pretty harmless right? But crunch the numbers and before you know it your caffeine kick is turning into a $10,400-a-year habit. Localiiz’s own investigator Suzannah Van Rooy hits the streets to see how much coffee is really setting us back and asks; how could we better spend our bucks?

The thought of waking up any earlier than I already do is absolutely painful – especially if it involves enough brain activity to put hot water to grains, resulting in a cup of coffee. God forbid I muster the energy to make my own breakfast.

Alas, this level of lazy leads to a daily purge of around $40 from the piggy bank for liquid claiming to be coffee and $12 for a single slice of toast from the local coffee conglomerate. A riveting breakfast.

Honestly – spending $40 on something you love is nothing to be upset about and let’s be clear – I love my daily coffee and that’s not the chemical addiction talking. However, I’ve been reflecting lately on the finances needed to sustain my caffeine vice and just like my view on life before my first cup, it’s not too pretty.

Let’s put this into perspective: the local bakery in Wan Chai, sells freshly baked loaves of bread at $9 per loaf. Each loaf produces 7 slices, which is a little cruel and unusual as everyone knows you eat slices of bread in twos. At the end of the day, there’s going to be one lone slice with no friends and no purpose. I digress.

With the $40 spent on coffee, alternatively, I could buy 3 loaves of bread – yielding 21 slices of toast. The obvious next step to take with 21 slices of toast is a morning toast party for your team. Everyone will be full and happy and you’ll no doubt be deemed super star of the day. Success.

Let’s say, hypothetically, we only spend $40 a day on coffee on workdays. At 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year that still ends up being a $10,400 a year habit. Even if you’re buying the cheapest option on the menu – a single shot of espresso – for $19, it ends up costing $4,940 a year to drink coffee. Think of all the plane tickets!

This simple dollar amount has been pestering me. Enough that I needed to take to the streets to see what, exactly, someone can buy with $40 in Hong Kong. I have to say, the research not only surprised me, but also motivated me cut coffee costs and brew in-house as often as possible.


EATS

Eating street food in Hong Kong is the cheapest, and it’s (most of the time) delicious. There are tons of options for under $40 eats – here are my top 4 picks:

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WET MARKET

Each wet market varies in price, keep that in mind. These prices are based on a wet market in the Eastern part of the island. The closer you get to Central the more expensive the produce will be.

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TRANSPORTATION

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The options of what one can buy with $40 in Hong Kong are plentiful, it just takes a bit of wandering outside the comfort of the Western world to find them. I’ve quite exhausted myself with this one, think I’ll grab a coffee, er, make a coffee.

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