Opinion: Coffee prices are rising and Blo-No cafés are pessimistic

By Farah Bassyouni Feb 3, 2023

As most college students know, to get through a busy semester, we live off of coffee. Coffee fuels early morning practices to late night cramming sessions. If most college students are drinking coffee, where are they getting it from? As of recent, with rising grocery prices, it’s proving more difficult to have. Trying to find a cup of joe on a college budget is nearing impossible, especially in Bloomington-Normal. 

Starting with the most accessible coffee shop for students, the Coffee Shoppe located next to the Dugout provides Starbucks brand coffee in a convenient spot. The nicest part about the Coffee Shoppe is it being directly on campus, so if students are in a time crunch or are just passing by on their way to class, they don’t have to have a car to get a cup of coffee. 

The issue arises when it comes to how students are paying. For those on meal plans, Munch Money is typically the way students pay, however, with its high prices, Munch Money at the Coffee Shoppe doesn’t last long. They do offer options to exchange meal swipes for coffee and pastries, however, it only includes the bare minimum, such as black coffee or unsweetened tea. 

If you start paying out of your own pocket, the prices are even more absurd. For an iced black coffee with no sweeteners or milk, it costs a solid $5. For non-dairy milk, it’s a full dollar extra. Sweeteners range around 50 cents to 75 cents. Put it all together, and a typical coffee costs upwards of 7 dollars. The more add ons students want, the higher the price goes. 

Venturing off of campus, prices at local coffee shops don’t get much better. In Downtown Bloomington, a local favorite is Coffee Hound. With a charming atmosphere, a mobile app, and even student discounts from time to time, Coffee Hound is a popular spot for students. In an Instagram post released Wednesday, Feb. 1, owner, April Fritzen, writes, “Unfortunately, due to a significant increase in cost of goods and labor in Illinois, we have made the difficult decision to raise our prices by approximately 20%.” 

Food prices have been on a steady rise for the past year due to multiple reasons, such as supply chain issues and extreme weather conditions. Because of this, local businesses are having to raise their prices even further, making their college student demographic turn to alternative options. 

What should college students do with these high prices? The solution isn’t easy to call. 

On one hand, the easiest answer is to start making coffee at home. At Target, a 48 fl oz bottle of Starbucks Medium Roast Iced Coffee costs about $6.19, making at least 4 servings of 12 oz coffees for about $1.50 each, which is way cheaper than a coffee shop that sells the same product. This can save the average student not only money, but also time during their busy schedule. 

On the other hand, there are local businesses that are trying to support their college audience and their wallets. Another local coffee shop called Coffeehouse and Deli is located in Uptown Normal and offers a one dollar iced coffee option. While you don’t get to choose what your coffee is or if it has any sweeteners or dairy options, it is still way cheaper than its competitors. 

Despite inflation hurting consumers, it is still important to support local businesses that truly do care about their customers. Fritzen wrote in her letter, “We understand that this news may be disappointing, and we want to thank you for your support and loyalty over the last 20 years. We hope that you will continue to choose us for your coffee needs, and we look forward to serving you for many more years to come.” 

In this economy, coffee is becoming more of a luxury when it was considered a necessity for college students needing an extra pick-me-up. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope that our daily life sustaining cup of coffee becomes more reasonably priced. 

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