The Real Cost: Your Coffee Habit

Geralyne Ong

Geralyne Ong

Last updated 08 July, 2021
The Real Cost Of Your Coffee Habit | SingSaver

There may be hidden costs on every dollar you spend. The Real Cost, a SingSaver Series, uncovers all the unexpected expenses you’re incurring.

Only drink kopi from the coffee shop or love your latte from Starbucks? Well, it's time to wake up and smell the coffee (pun intended) because this is what your daily caffeine habit is really costing you. 

If you ask me, the thought of starting my mornings without coffee is terrifying, almost to an anxiety-inducing degree. My orders are fixed, black for the morning, white in the afternoon, and as a treat, maybe a cold brew or two during the mandatory weekend brunch. The habit must have started during my first part-time job at Starbucks or when weekend brunches started to become an acceptable social activity. Regardless, I’ve been hooked onto coffee for as long as I can remember. 

It all started last month when I read an article about budgeting and it encouraged the recording of daily expenses to help one make better money decisions. So that’s what I did. I took note of everything I spent on, from groceries to the weekly beer run and dinners with friends. At the end of the month, I did the sums and was shocked to discover that I spent approximately $150 to fuel my coffee habit. 

Thanks to that shocking revelation, here I am calculating the real cost of coffee so that it may serve as a public service announcement (you can thank me later) for coffee enthusiasts who are unknowingly spending more on coffee than their monthly insurance premium. 

Whichever your preferred caffeinated brew may be, here’s a detailed breakdown of how much your coffee habit is really costing you.

For the purpose of this exercise and easier calculation, let’s assume that we take a cup of coffee a day on weekdays with an additional cup during the weekend brunch session (because you need to be awake to hear about Karen’s new love interest and Becky’s office drama). That brings us to a total of 6 cups a week, 24 cups a month and a whopping 288 cups of coffee a year. Note that the calculations below do not include transportation, water, electricity and other machine operating costs.

Instant coffee

Type of instant coffeeAverage cost per cupPer month (24 cups)Per year (288 cups)
3-in-1 $6.30 for 15 servings $10.08 $120.96
Instant coffee powder$8.35 for 25 servings$8.02$96.19

Note: Prices listed here may differ depending on how strong you like your coffee, the brand and the shop you prefer. 

Average cost for instant coffee: $108.58 a year

Yes, individually packed or granulated instant coffee for an instant morning boost. Even the most basic coffees will set you back by close to $100 a year, and this calculation is based on mid-range instant coffees that can be found at your nearby supermarket or neighbourhood provision shop. 

Homemade ground coffee

Type of homemade ground coffeeAverage cost per cup (300ml)Per month (24 cups)Per year (288 cups)
Ground coffee powder

Including 1 filter coffee machine that is priced at $35.90
$7.10 for 12 servings (8g of coffee for every 150ml) + $35.90 $14.20 + $35.90 = $50.1$170.40 + $35.90 = $206.30
Ground coffee powder

Including 1 French press that is priced at $39.80
$7.10 for 12 servings (8g of coffee for every 150ml) + $39.80 $14.20 + $39.80 = $54.00$170.40 + $39.80 = $210.20
Capsule coffee

Including 1 capsule coffee machine that is priced at $149.00
$6.00 for 10 capsules + $149.00$14.40 + $149 = $163.4$172.80 + $149 = $321.80

Note: Prices listed here may differ depending on the type of coffee bean and the price of brewing apparatus. 

Average cost for homemade ground coffee with a brewing apparatus: $246.10 a year

For those who don’t want to place a food delivery order for coffee in the morning, there’s the option to brew your own cuppa at home. Above, we’ve listed 3 of the most convenient options (in comparison to cold brew, siphon or pulling a shot from an espresso machine) for busy work from home mornings and fuss-free weekends. The coffee prices are based on low- to mid-range off-the-shelf ground and capsule coffee that can be found at most supermarkets and grocers. 

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Local coffee 

Type of local coffeeAverage cost per cupPer month (24 cups)Per year (288 cups)
Kopi-O (black coffee with sugar)$1.40$33.60$403.20
Kopi (milk coffee with condensed and carnation milk)$1.50$36.00$432.00
Kopi-C (coffee with carnation milk)$1.60$38.40$460.80

Note: Prices listed here may differ depending on cup size and coffee shop. 

Average cost for local coffee: $432.00 a year

Affectionately known as kopi, this is the more affordable option if you’re out and about. Depending on the coffee shop and location, you can find a standard cup of coffee shop kopi priced at as low as $0.80 as opposed to $2.40 at popular coffee chains.  

Cafe coffee and coffee subscriptions

Type of cafe coffee and coffee subscriptionsAverage cost per cupPer month (24 cups)Per year (288 cups)
Americano - Cafe$5$120.00$1,440.00
Latte - Cafe$6$144.00$1,728.00
Cold brew (white/black) - Subscription including delivery$6$144.00$1,728.00

Note: Prices listed here may differ depending on the cafe you visit. 

Average cost for cafe coffee and coffee subscriptions: $1,632.00 a year

If the thought of anything less than espresso-based or cold brew coffee from your favourite cafe makes you cringe, perhaps knowing that your coffee habit costs an average of $1,632 a year might change your mind. To put things into perspective, that’s the average cost of a 5-day trip to Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City inclusive of travel insurance, transportation, attraction entrance fees, lodging at a 4- or 5-star hotel, food and even shopping. 

The Cappuccino Index: Coffee spend vs endowment plan vs CPF Ordinary Account 

Type of coffeeAverage cost of coffee per year (288 cups)Average cost of coffee for 10 years (2,880 cups)Endowment plan for 10 years (4.75% p.a.)CPF Ordinary Account for 10 years (2.5% p.a.)
Instant coffee$108.58$1,085.80$1,726.99$1,389.92
Homemade ground coffee$246.10$2,461.00$3,914.28$3,150.29
Local coffee shop coffee $432.00$4,320.00$6,871.07$5,529.97
Cafe coffee and coffee subscriptions$1,632.00$16,320.00$25,957.36$20,890.98

Now, say that we take 10 years worth of coffee money and put it into an endowment plan or into your CPF Ordinary Account for safekeeping. If the markets are in your favour during this time, you could possibly earn up to, or more than $9,637.36, with what would be spent on just coffee. This means that the real cost of your cafe coffee or cold brew has increased and is no longer just $5 or $6 a cup, but actually around $9 a cup. 

Shocked at the numbers? Trust me, I am too.


Shocking as the numbers may be, it doesn’t mean that you have to make a drastic change and quit coffee altogether. Instead, this article seeks to encourage you to be more conscious of your spending habits and make better financial decisions. 

A great way to start saving on your coffee habit is by choosing the more affordable alternative whenever possible. This could be as simple as picking a French press over an Americano, or an iced kopi over a cold brew — the few dollars you save on a daily basis can make a significant difference in your savings over the long run.

However, if you can’t live without good coffee and absolutely require it in order to function through the day, then swipe it on the right credit card to earn cashback and save yourself some money.

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A lover of gin and all things Nigella Lawson, Geralyne’s constantly trying to adult like a pro. She spends most of her leisure time serving fur-babies and doing as many mountain climbers as she possibly can.


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