The price of espresso in London 2014

The price of espresso in London 2014

A little less than a year ago I wrote a short piece about the price of coffee in London. For that post I’d used the London Coffee Guide produced by a company called Allegra, (who do a lot of research) which launches at the London Coffee Festival which starts tomorrow.

Very kindly, and out of the blue, they forwarded me the data from this year’s book, and in a spreadsheet no less! (Meaning I didn’t have to put the prices in manually this time.) I thought I’d write about where things are now, what has changed and what hasn’t.

Espresso pricing

2013 Vs 2014
Year 2013 2014
Lowest Price £1.30 £1.50
Highest Price £2.60 £2.60
Average Price £1.89 £1.99
Mode Price £2.00 £2.00

A few small changes: those charging the lowest price for espresso have either increased pricing, or those businesses at the bottom end of pricing are no longer in business. At the top end there has been little to no change. However, the change in pricing distribution has moved the average and the mode to be essentially the same. Overall the price of espresso in London has increased, by around 5.3% which is above the rate of inflation (2.4-3.0%).

Pricing distribution looks very similar to last year except that the number of cafes charging £2.00 (the mode) has increased from 35% to 42% of the cafes listed in the guide. I should note at this point that prices for a double espresso were used when two prices were listed.

Price distribution by neighbourhood

One rather lovely addition to the data shared is that each cafe had been tagged with its neighbourhood in London. This allowed me to look at the distribution of price across London. Here it is with the average price for an espresso and a flat white, and where they rank from most expensive (1) to cheapest (11):

2013 Vs 2014
Region Espresso (£) Rank (11) Flat White (£) Rank (11)
East London £1.89 10 £2.51 9
Farringdon/Clerkenwell £2.07 4 £2.56 6
Holborn/Bloomsbury £2.09 3 £2.66 3
Inner East/Shoreditch £1.96 7 £2.63 4
North London £1.94 9 £2.50 10
Soho £2.11 2 £2.63 5
South East £1.79 11 £2.33 11
South West £2.02 6 £2.56 7
The City £1.96 8 £2.76 1
West End £2.17 1 £2.73 2
West London £2.03 5 £2.55 8

While this is interesting, it is hardly revelatory – but there are a few notables. The most expensive retail rent in London (the West End) comes with the most expensive coffee – I don’t think anyone is particularly surprised by this.  The South East is also considered a relatively cheap (in comparison to the rest of London) place to do business, but it is interesting to see how much cheaper coffee is down there.

I was surprised to see espresso in the City was cheaper than the average (even if it is just a little under). Amusingly milk drinks are the most expensive in London, so either bankers are buying bigger cups of coffee (I used the highest price for a flat white listed for each cafe) or the cafes are recouping their expensive rent costs with their most popular drinks. On principle they should probably be more expensive…

I’m not exactly sure why, but I was quite surprised to find the standard deviation across the prices to be so similar – 11p for espresso and 12p for flat whites. To me I would say that this indicates that cafes pay attention to each other’s pricing a lot (probably more than customers) – but I’m aware that I’m stating the obvious again…

I didn’t do the data analysis on milk drinks in 2013, so hopefully I can keep it up from this year onwards. This post is just a presentation of data, and has nothing to do with what I think cafes should be charging for espresso drinks – simply what they are charging right now.