Average American Worker Spends Nearly $1,100/Year On Coffee

Some say that coffee is the fuel that keeps the American workforce moving forward. And it’s a fuel that comes with a hefty price tag, as a new study shows that the average member of the American workforce spends almost as much on coffee every year as they do on commuting to and from their job.

According to Accounting Principals’ latest Workonomix survey, the average American worker is shelling out more than $20 a week on coffee, for a yearly average of $1,092. Whereas commuting costs for the average worker come out to around $1,476 per year. And when you consider the volume of your typical coffee drink versus a gallon of gasoline, it looks like we place a higher value on our java jolt than we do on the 87 octane in our gas tanks.

The younger whippersnappers (ages 18-34) in the office are paying almost about $10 more per week on coffee than their 45-and-older counterparts ($24.74 vs. $14.15, respectively).

Another huge expense for the American worker is lunch, with 66% of the workforce opting to buy their midday meal rather than pack one. This comes at an average cost of around $37/week, making it significantly more expensive than commuting or coffee.

However, with times still being tough, 35% of the survey respondents told Accounting Principals that they have made it a goal to start packing lunch this year to save money.

And, perhaps not surprisingly, that 18-34 age group is paying a lot more for lunch than the 45+ set ($44.78 vs. $31.80, respectively).

Worth mentioning here is that, when asked what they thought their biggest work week expense was in the last year, 42% of respondents thought it would be commuting costs, and only 11% chose lunch expenses.

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  1. Hi_Hello says:

    Average american sure spend a lot. I”m below average… I drink coffee once in awhile.
    I drink it a lot more doing the free ice coffee day.

    lunch is about 10 bucks a week.

    • milkcake says:

      10 bucks a week for lunch is damn good.

      Anyway, don’t most offices have coffee machines? I never understood why people go out to buy coffee when there’s one in the office. I especially do not understand ones in my office since the machine is from Starbucks that grinds beans every time it spits out a cup. It’s the same as Starbucks and as fresh as it can get. But then again, I don’t really drink coffee so I’ll never know…

      • sponica says:

        Most of the offices I worked in did not have a coffee machine. The one that did have a coffee machine, it was always cheapo coffee and there was only milk if someone remembered to buy milk.

        In my experience, people can’t agree on how strong they want their coffee…and nobody ever wants to clean the coffeemaker (Keurigs are a godsend in this scenario)

        • whiterussian says:

          All you have to do is pack a thermos.

          • sponica says:

            eh, I liked keeping the local pakistani/indian bakery near my first apartment in business….the coffee was only 1.25 and was the perfect sweetness. the danishes were AWESOME.

            also when I lived in NYC, I got so many starbucks gift cards, why wouldn’t I buy coffee? those gift cards are basically monopoly money….

  2. yabdor says:

    A Mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems. — Paul Erdos

  3. Straspey says:

    As opposed to people like me … non-average American workers who do not drink coffee.

    I spend about $1,100 a year on Diet Coke…

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      I was going to get all haughty and stuff, but you remind me I probably spend north of $500 a year on Diet Coke as well. DAMN IT! At least I don’t buy coffee!

      • Lethe says:

        How can you spend that much a year on Coke? I buy a can from a vending machine almost every weekday (I don’t buy cases so I can’t drink more than one a day) and that still only comes to less than $200 a year.

        • Platypi {Redacted} says:

          That’s where you come in lower. Drinking a single can a day won’t get you there, you have to go for multiples, big gulps, etc. I drink WAY too much Diet Coke.

    • AJC says:

      That’s a 6 pack a day at 50 cents per can.

      You’re a lightweight.

      If I could figure how to get a DIet Coke I.V. going (and make it portable), I would so do that.

  4. tbax929 says:

    I started making my morning coffee at home and bringing it with me on my commute to work. I didn’t necessarily do this to save money; I did it to save time. The line at Dunkin’ is way too long in the mornings. A nice benfit of doing this is that I do save money.

    It’s a lot cheaper to buy coffee from the grocery store and brew it at home.

  5. CrankyOwl says:

    My employer gives us free yearly transit passes, so my commute costs me nothing. Which means…more moneyz to spend on vanilla lattes!

    • j2.718ff says:

      So does mine… unfortunately, time=money, and I tend to drive in order to save time.

      My commute is about 25 minutes by car, vs. 1:40 by bus (plus a 10 minute walk to the bus stop)

      I really wish there was a better way.

  6. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I spend about $0.45 / workday and $1.35 per non workday on coffee. Keurig. I love having it fresh but it adds up. Otherwise I drink the swill we have in the office coffee pot.

    And we get free hot lunches at work. So commuting ($10/day in guzzler sports car 18 miles each way with $1.50 toll each way) is by far my biggest.

    • RandomHookup says:

      We used to get tons of free food at work, but lost most of that when the company got acquired. I can’t wait til they start providing us the promised snacks & free sodas. Even our vending machines were taken away because they don’t generate enough profit for the supplier.

  7. chucklebuck says:

    Is this only counting coffee out or coffee at home + coffee out?

  8. dolemite says:

    Not me, I can’t stand it. I have a weird thing about drinking hot liquids out of cups. Also, I really only like sweet beverages.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I used to be the same way. I went through an enlistment in the Army, college, and grad school without drinking it. That all changed when we had our first child. I’m now hooked.

      My wife and I probably spend about $25/month on coffee. I just make it at home and use a thermos to bring it into work.

  9. tungstencoil says:

    Another coffee post! I’ll bite!

    Jura-Capresso (or another super automatic, but JC is the best IMO). The individual serving cups are still old ground coffee. Coffee should be ground moments before it is brewed. No amount of vacuum- or inert-gas packaging mitigates that. Going to the coffee shop is just too expensive.

    People balk at the fact that my coffee maker cost more than a mortgage payment, but I’ve had it for 8 years and use $7/pound coffee in it. When people come over, they head straight for the coffee machine because they can’t believe how amazing my coffee (and cappuccino, and espresso) is. When you factor in the cost of the individual cups (versus beans) or, worse, going to a coffee shop, the machine pays for itself in about 18 months (YMMV).

    It took some discipline AND the ability to successfully talk my place of employment into purchasing one, but I’ve kicked the coffee shop habit and probably spend about $200/year on coffee. I can easily replicate (and surpass) any standard or foo-foo drink the coffee shop thinks it can throw at me.

    Lunch is another story. I’ve gone from eating out every day to now eating out two or three per week. Goal is to get it down to one or two, tops.

    • axhandler1 says:

      Yay for JC! We have one of their machines in our office and it is amazing. I usually have 2-4 double espressos every day, and the machine is so easy to use. I actually like it so much I may get one for home. They are pretty expensive, but fortunately my company works with them, so we can get their machines at wholesale prices :)

    • whiterussian says:

      My aeropress payed for itself in a couple of weeks. My dad would always want a cup whenever he came over until I bought him one. Coffee makers don’t have to be mortgage payments.

  10. petrieslastword says:

    Is lunch really a work expense though? You’d certainly still need to eat whether or not you went to work. You might not spend as much, but it needs to be taken into account.

    • sponica says:

      you do eat lunch, but you’re more likely to scrounge around the kitchen going “mmmmm what do I want to eat today?”

      I used to go out for lunch one day a week….just to get out of my broom closet, er office.

    • dulcinea47 says:

      If I buy a lunch I can’t possibly spend less than $6 around here. If I bring something from home, or eat at home if I’m not working, I spend about $3 max.

  11. crispyduck13 says:

    Wow, so I guess I should be more thankful that my office still has free coffee and tea for us. I mean it’s not very good coffee but it still gets the job done.

  12. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    The average American must be pretty well off to spend that kind of money on lunch and coffee.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Indeed.

      Compared to some parts of the world even that broke ass guy who eats ramen everyday is “pretty well off.”

    • msbask says:

      I don’t drink coffee, so I’m not spending a dime on it. Does that mean there’s someone out there spending an extra $1,100 on coffee to make up for me?

      [I think $1,000 is ridiculus, but it's not my place to tell anyone how to spend their money.]

      • sponica says:

        i think when you add up most expenses for the year they end up looking ridiculous….whether it’s your annual bar bill, coffee bill, grocery bill or clothing bill. for the most part it’s only a problem if you’re choosing coffee (or martinis) over paying the rent or the lights.

  13. chizu says:

    I’m sipping coffee at my desk as we speak. I drink coffee on almost a daily basis, very rarely do I go out and buy a cup of prepared coffee. I generally don’t like the taste of coffee convenient stores make (very acidic), and places like local coffee houses and Starbucks are way too expensive to have on a regular basis. So I just make my own coffee at the office. I get one of those one-person drip coffee thing for my mug, a pack of filters, ground coffee, and hot water. I guess the most I would spend in this case is the creamer and/or sugar. But getting a bottle of creamer will last me a good two weeks or so, so I really end up spending less than $.50 a day on coffee. While I’m at the office, I’m pretty okay with drinking mediocre coffee (anything from Folgers to Archer Farm)… But when I’m home, I usually try to have better coffee, like Illy. My biggest splurge on coffee would be getting more espresso pods for my espresso machine… Even those will come under $1.50 per pod, which is still cheaper than getting a fancy latte drink in coffee shops.

  14. Snoofin says:

    I wonder how many of them are on food stamps or welfare. If they wouldnt waste so much money on stuff like coffee, cable TV, and cell phones perhaps they wouldnt need to spend MY money via taxes

    • GrayMatter says:

      HUH? What?

      Oh…………………troll

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        The quality of trolls has really gone down lately. I’d give him a C- but would bump it up to a C+ if he manages to get at least one bite.

        • crispyduck13 says:

          I was going to let him/her have it, but seeing as how it would bring them up a notch in your eyes I will just be on my way…

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            I’ll give him a solid C. Although he was accused of trolling, people still tried to refute his arguments. He also managed to elicit an all caps, angry response.

      • Snoofin says:

        So Im a troll because Im sick and tired of seeing people swipe that food stamp card at the store and restaurants that could get by just fine without it if they didnt spend money on nonessential crap? You can think what you want but Im sick and tired of paying taxes to support people who can live fine on their own take my tax money because they want to live above their means and partake in luxuries. Instead of spending 4 bucks on a coffee, they could buy a box of pasta and jar of spaghetti sauce and get 5 meals out of it.

        • theduckay says:

          No, you’re a troll because you consistently post terrible comments. 99% of the time I’ll read a ridiculous comment and look up to see “Snoofin” as the author. You complain about the stupidest things (you’re the one who think that women who wear makeup and jewelry are “vain”, if I recall correctly…laughable). Stop being such a cranky old ultra-conservative geezer who is pissed off about everything. I can’t even believe they still let you post here.

          • crispyduck13 says:

            I’m glad they still get to post here, it’s a good reminder that not all the people around you in society got enough oxygen at birth.

            Stay sharp.

          • Snoofin says:

            You might think my opinion is ridiculous but I really dont care what you or anyone else thinks. Thats the reason that yes I AM the one that thinks people who wear jewelry and makeup are vain,. Wearing jewelry and makeup, and tanning yourself servers NO purpose other than to get attention from other people. Im sorry if I dont believe in wasting money on nonessential wasteful things. Why spend $3000 on a ring when all it does it sit on your finger. $3000 could be put to a much better use like paying down a mortgage or buying a years supply of food. Nobody should go through life just trying to look good to other people.

    • little stripes says:

      You seem like a very angry, sad person. :/ I pity you.

    • CreekDog says:

      You say you “wonder” how many are on food stamps or welfare –YOU ADMIT YOU DON’T KNOW.

      Then WITHOUT KNOWING, you conclude they are using your tax money to spend food stamps for coffee.

      I hope you aren’t getting paid for this low quality trolling. Step up your game.

  15. Jevia says:

    My office buys DD coffee for the coffee maker, so it always surprises me when I see others in the office with a DD cup, evidencing coffee purchased at the DD shop downstairs. Why spend $2 on a cup of coffee made from the same stuff that’s free in the office?

    Oh, I know why. They don’t like actually making the coffee, because that takes like 5 minutes (and then they’d get labeled as the “coffee person” in the office). But they don’t mind standing in line….

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I just bring coffee from home because I don’t want to deal with the communal coffee maker at work. People are always fighting over who forgot to turn it off, who should clean it, who spilled it and didn’t clean it up, and who should pay for the coffee. My employer used to pay for free coffee but that added perk was taken away last year.

      I just bring it from home, where I can get better coffee, and not be blamed when some idiot burns down the office because he never turned it off.

    • milkcake says:

      I’m with you on that one, but I don’t think it has anything to do with making the coffee. In my office, we have Starbucks grinding coffee machine. They just need to put a cup under it and press a button, then it’ll grind the beans and make fresh coffee in like 2mins or so. That’s almost as good as coffee can get in terms of freshness, convenience, and it’s free. People still buy it on the way to work.

      • sponica says:

        drinking coffee on the way to work is like smoking on the way to work….it’s habitual and some people don’t know what to do in the car (or on the train) if they’re not drinking coffee.

  16. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Free coffee/tea/bottled water is our only perk. it’s Folgers in little packets and we make it in our Bunn coffee machine. We have regular and decaf, tea bags regular and decaf, plus hot cocoa with or without sugar. There are also Mini Moos, sugar, and powdered creamer. We have Tulpehocken spring water too.

  17. El-Brucio says:

    My first year of working downtown, surrounded by high-end coffee shops, I started getting into the habit of getting a giant caramel-sparkly-frothy-froofy latte every day for about five dollars.

    The caffeine and sugar rush made my workday that much more enjoyable until I made the mistake of calculating that it was costing me 1300 dollars a year.

    After that I just started making coffee at work and the fancy beverages became a “sometimes” treat on Fridays. But I can certainly understand people who would have a hard time giving it up.

  18. thammuz says:

    Good thing I do not like coffee; live five minutes from work; and pack my own lunches.

    Saving at least $3000, a year?

  19. thammuz says:

    Good thing I do not like coffee; live five minutes from work; and pack my own lunches.

    Saving at least $3000, a year?

  20. thammuz says:

    Good thing I do not like coffee; live five minutes from work; and pack my own lunches.

    Saving at least $3000, a year?

  21. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    $3/day habit. Ouch.

  22. Promethean Sky says:

    I probably spend about $200-$300/year on coffee. Mostly cans or beans, but it’s just rude to use coffee shop wifi without ordering something.

  23. suez says:

    Nearly every place I’ve worked offered free coffee. What’s up with these folks?

    • little stripes says:

      Sometimes work-provided coffee sucks. Ours isn’t bad, but at my last job it was just horrid.

    • sponica says:

      the last agency I worked for had a couple keurigs, but not in my building….

      the only other place I worked that had coffee was self-funded coffee. the staff bought the coffee pot, coffee, milk, sugar, etc….it worked fine except for the days that they had 15 or 20 interns who would drink coffee like the world was ending.

      for the most part I would go out for coffee or lunch in order to GET OUT of the office and get some fresh air….

    • tbax929 says:

      If you have a commute, drinking coffee on the way can easily become part of the routine. My drive to work is 20-30 minutes, depending on what time I leave my house. I have my first cup of joe during my drive to work. When I get to work, I make the office coffee (I’m the only one in my office who drinks it) and then have my second cup. It’s just my routine.

  24. little stripes says:

    We have pretty good coffee at work — they even ship one brand from San Francisco (I work in Phoenix for a SF-based company). The problem, of course, is that we have horrible coffee makers that tend to burn the coffee, so even good coffee tastes kind of weird. Which is okay because I love strong, horrible coffee (no sugar for me!).

    I don’t drink coffee at home. Not because I don’t like it, but because I’m lazy. If someone else doesn’t brew it, I just don’t bother. The good news is that I am not addicted to caffeine. :)

    I also don’t really drink soda, though we have an unlimited supply of free soda here at work.

    But we do have tons of other snacks and foods, including lunch and breakfast stuff. We have Amy’s Organic Burritos, even! I rarely ever eat out for lunch anymore because our kitchens are so well-stocked. Also, string motherfucking cheese, hell yeah.

  25. hansolo247 says:

    I don’t drink coffee, and I make it a point to pack lunch 3x per week.

    I could certainly afford to, but I also don’t like to waste money.

  26. Starfury says:

    I don’t drink coffee so that’s one expense I don’t have. I’ve also cut down eating out for lunch to 1 day a week….besides being expensive it’s fattening. I’ll bring leftovers or a sandwich in and have that.

    Telecommuting one day a week is nice too. Don’t use gas/pay the bridge toll.

  27. spamtasticus says:

    I came to the same conclusion about eight years ago and instead bought the best espresso machine and grinder at William and Sonoma. I then bought an iRoast from sweetmarias.com and now buy green coffee and roast it myself. Each Venty latte costs me 40 cents instead of 4 dollars and is infinitely better than Starbucks.

  28. pentium4borg says:

    I pack my lunch every day, don’t drink coffee, and ride my bicycle to work. Do I win a prize?

  29. The Twilight Clone says:

    This is ridiculous. I calculated that I use approximately 3.5 cans of Folgers Black Silk per year. I make a pot on Monday and it lasts in the fridge til Friday. A pot consists of 5/8C of ground coffee. 3.5 cans of that costs approx $40. Add the water and electricity and if you can get to $50, I’d be amazed. This is a conservative estimate, of course, because both my wife and I drink coffee, but this is what I make at work each week. So together maybe we spend $150 total, and that’s being very generous with the estimate.

    How the hell anyone is spending $1100 a year is totally beyond me. They must be drinking $4-frappuccinos every single day.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      If someone is spending that kind of money, they’re obviously buying it and not making it at home.

    • chocolate1234 says:

      Why don’t you brew a fresh batch every day? I know that you probably save a little electricity doing it your way, but doesn’t your coffee taste pretty bad by Friday?

  30. sirwired says:

    Made-at-my-desk tea FTW. $15 hot pot, three cent tea bag, five cent sugar packet, one cent disposable wooden swizzle stick.

  31. Helpful moose is helpful says:

    Looking the bright side… it helps the economy and keeps baristas (and store managers etc) employed, since you can’t (easily) outsource those sorts of person-to-person service jobs. Unless everyone buys a Keurig which is probably made in China.

  32. Dallas_shopper says:

    This office, like my last one, has a very crowded fridge in January. By March a lot of that penny pinching and talk about healthy eating eases off and those of us with entrenched frugal and healthy habits get the fridge back. :-D

  33. Dallas_shopper says:

    My office’s coffee is so awful that I’ve switched to hot tea.

  34. NumberSix says:

    Yeah, I can see how that would be. If I got my favorite drink every work day, I’d be in the hole $845. Fortunately I only get it most days, not every day.

  35. Coffee Fiend says:

    Do you know how long I have waited to comment on this story!!!???

  36. The Slime Oozing Out From Your TV Set says:

    $20/wk on coffee? Ouch.

    Is it work a measly $40/wk to not have that mid-day break from the office? I’m sure more and more people will pack, but not nearly the amount saying they will.

  37. Cantras says:

    This almost makes me glad that I can’t drink coffee without getting sick. Apparently I’ve saving a bunch of money.

  38. maynurd says:

    Everyone gripes about the price of gas.

    How much would a gallong of coffee cost at Starbucks??

  39. planetoid says:

    Biggest work expense? Commute does not even come close… that would be my wardrobe and (or) grooming… considered together or separately. Being a woman in a corporate office is not cheap, though it’s probably not a one sex issue.

  40. beaverfan says:

    Americans are spending that money on caffeine, a drug, let’s get it right.

  41. central_ny_dude says:

    Where I work, we sell coffee, but all the employees have to pay for it. And its not very good, either. Someone brought in a beat up old home machine, which hardly ever gets cleaned and I wouldn’t dare drink from it again. Most people buy their coffee from the nearby McDonalds. I got a Keurig for Christmas, and am down to one travel mug to/at work, and then on long days I brew two travel mugs worth. Much cheaper than buying coffee at work, or at any of the other shops around us.

  42. final_atom says:

    i’m way below average.

  43. Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

    I brew a pot at home every morning, using mid/high grade beans bought whole at Costco. I guess it’s costing me maybe $100/year (divided by two, as the wife drinks half!)

    Serious envy for those of you that get nice coffee provided free at work. Don’t take this perk for granted, I don’t think it’s as common anymore as you might think it is.

  44. Sad Sam says:

    I do pretty good on the coffee habit. My work has a Keurig machine and they provide lots of good pods. We also have a Keurig at home that Mr. Sam uses but we don’t normally buy pods instead he uses the single serve filter and fills it with good coffee. Once in a while I buy the pods if I see them on sale. I’ll hit DD or SBucks once in a while on the weekend but it is not a regular habit.

    As for lunches, this is something I struggle with. I do spend quite a bit of money eating out and ordering in during the week. I hate to grocery shop so as a result I buy quite a bit of food already prepared. It does add up and its probably an easy category for me to cut back on.

  45. Sean says:

    I guess there is some out there that are quite a bit above $1100 a year because I am at $0.