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Higher coffee prices pinching Las Vegas coffee shops, customers

Updated August 16, 2022 - 7:34 am

Southern Nevada coffee lovers are getting an unwelcome jolt with their morning cup of joe.

Customers who frequent local coffee shops say they’ve been noticing higher prices.

While consumer prices eased slightly last month, reaching 8.5 percent from a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week the overall food index increased 10.9 percent year over year with categories such as milk rising by 15.6 percent and coffee prices for consumers up more than 20 percent.

Some coffee lovers like Mallory Gott aren’t surprised.

“The prices have gone up, and hopefully, at some point they’ll level out a little bit,” said Gott, who frequents downtown Las Vegas coffee joints like Mothership Coffee Roasters. “For now we’re like, ‘Okay, well we’ll take it as it comes.’”

Coffee shop owners in the Las Vegas Valley say they’ve been forced to raise prices to help cover higher supply costs — seen on everything from coffee beans, cups, napkins to stir sticks. They’re not alone. Major companies like Unilever PLC, whose brands include Ben & Jerry’s and Dove, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. have had to pass off the increased cost of goods, fuel and other operational costs on to their customers, according to recent earnings reports.

On Monday, Gott bought her usual drink at Mothership, an iced almond milk latte, that costs $5.50 before tax. Even with higher prices, Gott doesn’t plan on stopping her coffee habit and feels “fortunate I’m not in a position where I cannot absorb the impact of the increase.”

“Do I love it? No. But, do I love coffee and want to drink it? Yes,” said Gott.

Mothership Coffee Roasters CEO Juanny Romero said prices at its three locations have increased by about 10 percent.

The company sources its coffee from Cafe Femenino, a women-led farming cooperative, but Romero said obtaining it has “been very difficult.”

“It’s not only the cost of coffee is going up, but our cash flow has gone up considerably to acquire these coffees too,” said Romero. “We’ve done our best not to pass this on to our customers, because we do understand that we’re all in the same boat together.”

Romero also said the biggest dent in its expenses has come from milk and paper products.

Mothership has tried to mitigate these costs by encouraging customers to bring their own cups or dine-in at their locations, allowing the shop to reduce its use of paper cups.

Nearby, Brew It Coffee House said sourcing coffee is the least of its issue. Owners Willie Villanueva and Patty Bell said it’s everything else that causes problems. It’s even started closing its doors on Sunday to help reduce operating costs.

“Besides the coffee, everything else has gone up,” said Bell. “The creamers, the syrups, everything that goes into it has gone up. We’ve raised [prices] a little bit, not too, too much.”

“We have one kind of cup we use — you go buy it again, it’s nowhere to be found. Then you have to get a different cup and then different cups have different lids … It’s just difficult to find things.”

Bell said customers have been understanding.

“I think everybody knows. I mean, look at the price of gas,” said Bell. “Everybody knows prices are going up, so they’re not surprised.”

Jenny Wong, a customer at Brew It, has noticed the recent price jumps and it’s forced her to trim her coffee trips, opting instead to make coffee at home.

“I would say it used to be part of my daily routine and then now I consider it more of a treat,” said Wong. “I’m trying to discipline myself and create a budget.”

Wong’s usual order is a cup of premium black coffee, which she says normally costs about $6. But making a cup at home is cheaper, according to Wong, since a bag of coffee beans costs $15.

Meanwhile at Grouchy John’s Coffee, off South Maryland Parkway and East Wigwam Avenue, Divyansh Sharma is studying while enjoying a cup of coffee, which has now become a luxury item.

“I have noticed a slight increase in prices of coffee. I actually just recently bought a coffee maker last week,” said Sharma. “I’ve been trying to supplement that by trying to go to coffee shops less and find more similar products.”

Sharma, who typically orders a large black coffee, said he will not pay more than $3 for a cup. He used to indulge in a pricier latte but is now trying to save money.

But many drinkers noted that even with higher prices they’d still be willing to visit their local coffee shop — just less frequently.

“You live once. It’s okay to buy a good cup every once in a while,” said Wong.

Contact Emerson Drewes at edrewes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @EmersonDrewes on Twitter.

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