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The 5 Most Overpriced Coffee Chains in 2024

From Dunkin' to Starbucks, consumers are paying ever-higher prices for their daily caffeine fix.

If you suspect the price of your coffee has gone up lately, you're probably right. A 2023 investigation from the Washington Post found that people now spend around $6 on average for a cup of joe at their local coffee shop.

The cost of producing milk and coffee beans has gone up over the last few years. Blame it on changing weather patterns, increased energy costs, and, of course, inflation and a labor shortage. All these factors converge, and retailers pass cost increases onto their customers.

The question then becomes: just how much are customers willing to pay for a cup of coffee? According to a 2021 CBS News poll, 39% of java lovers will pay between two and five dollars for a cup, while only 16% will pay more than five bucks. There wasn't even a poll option for a $7-plus drink back then, but that's the reality we're now seeing. A 2023 Vox article estimated the base price for a regular latte could run you around $6, and that's without any special syrups, non-dairy milks, or fancy foams on top. After those add-ons, your latte can quickly reach upwards of $8 after a tip. At that point, your trusty five-dollar bill isn't going to cut it anymore.

Even baristas admit that coffee prices are approaching the threshold of what customers are willing to pay. "I've been a partner for a long time so I've seen the price gradually increase," one self-described Starbucks employee recently wrote on Reddit. "I feel like $5 people can throw away [easily] without much thought, but now when your coffee is $7+ you'll start to notice."

Riddled with price increases, these five coffee chains are pushing the limit of what customers are willing to pay for a cup of joe—fancy or otherwise.


Photo: 6428W Digital Art / Shutterstock

Starbucks is the leading coffee shop chain in the world, with more than 38,000 stores globally, but its steady price increases are starting to turn away customers and that's taking a toll on the company's bottom line.

In May, Starbucks reported a rare decline in sales and guest traffic in the latest quarter, marking its first negative performance since pandemic-related store closures in 2020. During an April earnings call, CEO Laxman Narasimhan said budget-conscious customers have been more careful about their spending.

Indeed, many Starbucks fans have expressed their frustrations online. "Seems like Starbucks is raising prices every month since Jan 2024. It's so ridiculous," wrote one customer, noting that the price of their go-to order (an iced triple shot latte with soy milk, cold foam, and added syrup) had increased three times since January. Six months ago, that order was $5.40. By April 2024, that same order came to $6. "I am slowly turning to my Nespresso machine to make my drink now," that same Redditor said.

Even Starbucks workers are getting fed up with rising prices: "I wonder how much higher Starbucks is going to raise their prices," one employee wrote in a StarbucksBaristas subreddit. "I can't even afford my drink WITH my discount. They're pricing out their own employees and the fact that they don't see an issue with that is seriously concerning."

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dunkin' storefront on a designed yellow background
Photo: The Image Party / Shutterstock. Design: Eat This, Not That!

Back in 2022, Dunkin' customers started to notice that their relatively cheap coffees were costing them more. For example, one customer on Reddit shared that a medium iced coffee with one flavor that was $2.88 was suddenly ringing up to $3.45. Nowadays, that second price sounds downright cheap.

Four months ago, one Redditor mentioned they paid $6.05 for a large iced coffee at their local Dunkin' along a state highway. Dunkin' fans replied that was too high: "It's unsustainable when McDonald's is next door and has… a $1.29 coffee."

Other customers have reported similar price increases—which vary based on location and franchise, of course—sometimes in the span of a few days. "Last week, large cold brew (no foam or extras) = $3.99. Logged in to the app today to order, price is now $5.19!!! Ummm, no," one Redditor wrote. "DD stepped over the edge of the supply/demand/cost cliff. And yes, same store, even checked another local store, same ridiculous increase."

In fact, some Dunkin' fans are likening the prices to Starbucks. "Is anyone else's local Dunkin' more expensive than Starbucks now?" one Redditor asked last year. "I [pulled] up the app on my phone—and literally had to do a double-take when I saw the prices, because they seemed to be higher than Starbucks. So I then go into the Starbucks app to check, and sure enough, Dunkin's prices were higher," they wrote, noting that a 24-ounce Iced Macchiato at Dunkin' was $6.35, while the exact same drink at Starbucks was $5.95. "I thought I was going insane when I saw those prices, because Dunkin used to ALWAYS be the cheaper option," they wrote.

In January, a reporter from Eat This, Not That! found the prices at Starbucks and Dunkin' in one New Jersey location were pretty similar: "A grande iced Americano at Starbucks is priced at $4.45, while the same drink costs $4.39 at Dunkin'… a medium cold brew at Dunkin' is $4.59, while a grande cold brew at Starbucks is $4.45."

 9 Most Delicious Dunkin' Coffee Drinks, According to Baristas

Tim Hortons

tim hortons exterior
Photo: Lester Balajadia / Shutterstock

Though the Canadian coffee chain is relatively new to the United States, it's now the nation's third-largest coffee chain, behind Starbucks and Dunkin'. In fact, as of April 2024, there are more than 600 Tim Hortons stateside, mostly clustered along the border in the Northeast. While new U.S. customers may not notice price jumps, Canadians north of the border are pointing out their long-standing coffee orders are ticking up. "It wasn't that long ago that an XL coffee was $2.50 or $2.55. When did it jump to over $3?? Capitalism and corporate greed are going to kill us all," one Redditor wrote.

Another Tims fan said much the same: "I remember a large regular was $2, and then $2.17. And now it is $2.30???" Fancier drinks, like iced cappucinos, are more expensive, too. "A large is now 4.89 in my area. It was 3.99. Ridiculous," one Redditor complained. Some customers are even jumping ship: "The past 10 years Tim Hortons has been steadily raising prices, and with each price increase comes a decrease in quality… I quit giving Tim Hortons my business a few years ago," one former fan wrote.

Customers may be finally catching on to a 2022 price hike, which were implemented to stay ahead of rising food and labor costs. José Cil, then-CEO of Restaurant Brands International Inc, Tim Hortons' parent company, told analysts back then that inflationary pressures and rising interest rates have pushed the coffee chain to increase menu prices "when and where appropriate," according to the Financial Post.

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Dutch Bros Coffee

dutch bros coffee store on a designed blue background
Photo: Brett Hondow / Shutterstock. Design: Eat This, Not That!

Dutch Bros Coffee is among the fastest-growing coffee shops in the country. In 2023 alone, the Oregon-based chain opened 159 new stores. The chain is currently planning a massive expansion, with a goal to operate 4,000 cafes in the next 10 to 15 years. The prices, however, have become a point of contention for some loyal Dutch Bros fans.

Dutch Bros raised prices by 11% in 2022. However, in early 2023, CEO Joth Ricci told Restaurant Business Magazine the company hoped to avoid further price jumps. "You've got to be careful before your price points start to run into a territory where you start paying $12 for lattes… That doesn't sit well with me," Ricci said.

It doesn't sit well with customers, either. "Did they up their prices again?" one Redditor asked three months ago. "I went Monday and my drink was $5.75 which it normally is [and] today the same drink was $6.75… not a big difference but I wasn't aware they had upped their prices once again." One commenter replied that price bumps are worth posting about: "I'm sorry but $1 IS a big difference…That's almost 20%! Hate this keeps happening."

One Dutch Bros customer was shocked to see that a medium coffee was $7.50 in California. "That is so ridiculous, I used to really like dutch bros, but this is absolute greed."

The 7 Fastest-Growing Coffee Chains Right Now

Caribou Coffee

Caribou Coffee
Photo: Shutterstock

Caribou Coffee is already one of the largest coffee chains in the United States and has its sights set on becoming even larger, according to Restaurant Dive. The brand started franchising in 2021 and plans to nearly double its American footprint by the end of the decade. But Caribou has also been accused of slinging pricey drinks of late–likely due to those franchisee owners ticking up the prices.

"First of all, does a completely plain black iced cold brew actually cost $6.20(medium)?" one Redditor asked last year. Another Caribou customer chimed in: "A Medium Cold Press Black at my closest location is currently $4.69 so I don't know where you are, but that does seem steep."

One former fan put it simply: "Long time daily customer here, the prices are insane."

Emily Latimer
Emily Latimer is a freelance journalist with a passion for food and restaurants. Read more about Emily