Why do people get mad about expensive coffee?
I mean, it makes sense on the surface.
Coffee should be cheap. It is relatively inexpensive to grow. And you simply add a little bit of hot water to it. Sugar and cream should be free and already on the table when you sit down. Right? Right.
Then you walk into a trendy coffee shop, place a simple order, and are asked to pay $7.00 for a large cup.
The genius of Starbucks – who popularized this idea – was to discover that where was a market for people who wanted to pay more for coffee.
Many people want to pay $50 for a winter coat. And there are many $50 winter coats. But there is a group happy to pay $500 for a winter coat. So companies make $500 winter coats for them too.
Many people want to pay $20,000 for a car. And there are many $20,000 cars. But there is a group happy to pay $200,000 for a car. So companies make $200,000 cars for those people too.
This is true for every other product we touch.
In this same way, some coffeehouses cater to customers happy to pay for an $8 cup of coffee.
Coffee, it was generally accepted, did, and should, cost about fifty cents to a dollar—often with unlimited refills. Then Starbucks came along, whose particular genius was not the dissemination of such concepts as “latte,” “half-caf,” and “mochaccino,” or new terms for sizes, like “venti.” Nor did their brilliance lie in the particularly good quality of their coffee. Starbucks’s truly beautiful idea was the simple realization that Americans wanted to spend more money for a cup of coffee, that they’d feel much better about themselves if they spent five dollars for a cup of joe rather than buy that cheap drip stuff that shows such as Friends suggested only fat white trash in housecoats (or people who actually worked for a living) drank anymore—in their trailer parks or meth labs or wherever such people huddled for comfort.
-Anthony Bourdain, Medium Raw