Coffee versus keeping body and soul together

Apr 7, 2014 | 10 comments


Coffee versus keeping body and soul together

As I write this, I am watching a programme on tv about coffee. They have just said that the average spend on coffee is £450 a year. I think that bears repeating – £450 a year.

That is an extraordinary amount of money spent on a totally optional product. It doesn’t even sound that many when you work out that it is about 3 coffees a week, so not even one every day. Not even one every work day.

If our average person is in the habit of buying a coffee two or three times a week, using this self same amount of money, they could feed themselves. Seven days a week. Three times a day. Plus snacks. And have £85 left over to spend on something else. Maybe store cupboard items, a new outfit, meals out, takeaways or paying down debt.

I knew this stuff anyway, but my goodness, it has really brought home to me the power of being aware of our discretionary spending and just how much difference spending on this kind of thing, or not, can make to our lives.

And if you don’t need to budget tightly. How about a week in the sun against a coffee two or three times a week. That washing machine you need, a computer, lots of clothes, meals out, pay off debt.

So buy a coffee, or don’t buy a coffee. But please, please be aware of just how much it is costing, in all ways.



  1. julia

    I too was amazed at the cost of coffee. But shouldn’t be! When I decided to give up smoking many moons ago, I calculated I could save about 1,000 GBP a year. That was enough motivation to quit cold turkey. Judging by the cost of a pack of cigarettes today, I have saved my purse, and my health! As one of your readers says, stick to your own brand of coffee, don’t drink too much of it and you will still be able to enjoy your daily dose of caffeine.

  2. misspiggy

    It’s also worth considering what ‘average’ meant – it could be ‘average for people who regularly buy cups of coffee’, rather than ‘average for the whole population’. Or it could be ‘average for a very small sample of people the research company asked in London’. I do love a nice coffee myself, and it represents a treat – I’ll have one takeaway and two cafe cups of coffee a week. But I’m very lucky and if I needed to economise on food it would be among the first things to go.

    If I was just having top quality ground coffee at home, with the spread-out cost of machines, coffee, water, milk and electricity it would be around £200 a year. Not much really for a delicious treat. Mm, coffee.

    But I think the point you were making is that we should know what these things mount up to, and decide if we really want to be spending that money. Definitely agree – spreadsheets for the win!

  3. Jo

    I don’t buy coffee out and can only think of maybe half a dozen times in my life when I did. My coffee habit costs me about £3 a month for some ground coffee and some supermarket own “Nescafe Gold”. We don’t drink enough to get through one jar/packet in a month. That means that somebody else is spending FAR more than the average in order to include my statistics…

    And I didn’t think your attitude in your post sounded smug. I read it as simply saying buy it if you want but think before you do and was taken aback by the poster who wants her coffee. Everybody has a treat that they don’t want to give up unless they are forced to. And that is fine so long as we do think about what we are doing.

  4. Sue

    I think your tone is more shocked than judgemental. I watched the programme too and was amazed that in a time of recession and belt tightening the coffee shops profits are absolutely sky rocketing.

    It’s up to us all to decide. I try and go for a happy medium, a treat of a latte when I’m out and about for a full day or on a long journey but sensible budgeting at the rest of the time.

    A fascinating insight in the programme on our changing society though.

  5. Eileen

    I don’t see your post as being judgemental at all, since your last line was ” So buy a coffee, or don’t buy a coffee. But please, please be aware of just how much it is costing, in all ways”. I would say that you are giving an informed opinion and you are entitled to do that as its your blog.

  6. Frugal in Tasmania

    I didn’t think it sounded smug, I just thought it food for thought- or coffee for thought.

  7. Frugal in Tasmania

    This change was one of the single most significant changes enabling me to save that I made. Great post.

  8. Diane Clement

    Hi Leslie,
    I think your point was well taken–be aware of how you spend your money, whether it is spent in dribs and drabs for small luxuries like a good coffee, which I love, or saved up for something big and special. I appreciate any little reminder as I can get carried away on the little things (like good coffee and pastries in San Francisco over the last week) which means I will save less for my next trip from California to your part of the world. So thanks. I needed that reminder. Love your ideas and recipes. Carry on!!

  9. Lesley

    Oh dear, I was trying so hard not to sound judgemental too. I really didn’t mean it that way. I totally do not believe in making choices for other people.

    Maybe I shouldn’t write posts in the heat of the moment!

  10. Sarah

    I know that coffee plays an important part in keeping MY body and soul together. Think of it this way: having a cup of coffee to go every once in a while is a cherished little luxury for someone who can’t afford to treat her-/himself in any other way. And doesn’t everything add up to an impressive number if only you add it up? Coffee is definitely not “optional” for me, and I don’t think it’s right to decide for someone else what food/drink is optional for them. (Wouldn’t that lead back to the bread-and-water days?) I wonder why you chose that stance? I would have pegged you as someone who was non-judgmental when it came to other people’s food/beverage choices! Love your blog though, but was a little shocked by the smugness of this post, since it doesn’t fit in with any of the others!

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