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Secret Diary of a Barista: UO’s Coffee Addiction

I work at an on-campus coffee shop and earlier this term, I overheard my manager say something that stuck with me: “If we only sold coffee drinks here, we’d be making a fortune.”

As an avid coffee drinker and barista, I found it in my best interest to investigate this claim. The nation is packed with coffee addicts, and University of Oregon is no different. I decided to conduct a survey to take a look at just how many students at our school are buying coffee drinks on a regular basis.

The Survey

Out of 50 University of Oregon students:

Additionally, over 60% believed they were paying too much for coffee. So how much are coffee drinks actually worth?

Survey conducted anonymously through Survey Monkey. Results rounded to nearest whole number.

The Economics:

First, let’s assume that an average 12 oz (tall) latte costs approximately $3. It might typically be more than that, but let’s choose that even number for ease. That means that:

If you buy this latte at a coffee shop everyday for a year, you’re paying: $1095 ($3 X 365 days)

If you buy one three times a week: $468 ($3 X 3 times a week X 52 weeks)

If you buy one once a week: $156 ($3 X 52 weeks)

Keep in mind that a total of 71% students surveyed admitted to buying at least one coffee drink a week. That’s a lot of money. 

Next, I did my own research on costs associated with making coffee drinks at my own work:

How much it costs us:

Espresso shot (2 oz): $0.15

10 oz of milk: $0.12

If we’re just talking about the ingredients for this latte, it would cost us a whopping total of $0.27 to make that $3.00 latte (which, if you hate math, means we earn $2.73 off of EVERY latte you order.)

Wanna add syrup? For you, pay an extra $0.75. It costs us about $0.14.

Maybe you’re cheaper and just want a cup of coffee! You shell out $1.50, maybe $1.75.

It costs us about $0.10. Think about it.

Whether or not that seems like a lot, multiply that by the 50+ customers we get per hour during an average, weekday morning and you’ve got $$$$

It’s not hard to crack the code on coffee drinks. At your morning Starbucks visit, your barista may seem like Rain Man memorizing all those drink orders and recipes. But after some practice, it’s not so terrifying!

At my work, it’s fairly straightforward:

Chai: Fill cup half with Chai concentrate, half with milk. Steam. (Sidenote: chai concentrate is packed with sugar)

Latte: 10 oz milk, steamed + 1 shot espresso (2 oz). 

Mocha: Same as latte, plus one pump chocolate, depending on the size.

Americano: Espresso shot (2 oz) + hot water. Yeah, it’s that simple.

Cappuccino: Espresso shot (2 oz) + steamed milk (6 oz) which you steam until it’s super foamy. You’re paying for espresso and milky air, basically. 

For the best quality espresso drink, I’d recommend using whole milk; it steams a lot better than other types of milk. 

The Health Factor

Money aside, people forget that their favorite coffee drink often has as many calories as a snack.

According to Starbuck’s nutrition guide for their drinks (size tall, 12 oz): 

Coffee (black): 5 calories

Coffee (with milk and sugar): (estimate) 80 calories

Coffee (with cream and sugar): (estimate) 130 calories

Latte: 150 calories

Mocha: 200 calories

Chai: 190 calories

Blended Drink: (example: mocha frappucino, no whip) 200 calories

And remember, anytime you make that latte a vanilla latte, or that mocha a caramel mocha, add at least an extra 20 calories. 

As a challenge, try to stay away from especially milky and sweet drinks. Straight espresso, coffee, and tea are very low in calories. If you’re constantly treating your body to sweet beverages, your time on the treadmill or track will not pay off!

Of course, you should feel free to splurge on a delicious espresso drink every now and then; everyone does it! Maybe you’ve had a long day, you’re in a rush, you need a study fix, or it’s a special meet up with a friend. Just be aware if you’re starting to become a regular coffee drink buyer that the costs and calories should not be overlooked!

Heather is a senior at the University of Oregon, majoring in advertising. An aspiring copywriter, her dream job would be screenwriting for TV, but for the meantime she works as an office assistant, ad director for Envision magazine, freelance graphic designer, and her favorite, campus correspondent at Her Campus Oregon. She hails from Lake Oswego, Oregon, and loves the quirky side of Oregon: its unique people, unpredictable weather, and amazing music scene. She's a cat lover, avid black coffee drinker, and TV and movie addict.
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