Whether you drink coffee at a national chain, a local caf or your own kitchen, lots of people have a favourite type of coffee. Your preference may be based on things like taste, price, accessibility and caf ambience. If your preference in coffee is based on caffeine, however, you may be surprised to hear that the four major coffee chains in Canada Second Cup, Starbucks, Tim Hortons and Timothys have nearly identical caffeine contents in relation to their prices.
In the following chart, Ive outlined the contents and before-tax prices of house-blend brewed coffee at each of the four companies:
The caffeine figures from Timothys and Second Cup were provided directly to me by company representatives. The caffeine figures from Starbucks and Tim Hortons are posted on their websites, as are the number of ounces per cup size. Number of ounces per cup size for Second Cup and Timothys were provided by company representatives. Prices for all four companies were provided by company representatives.
Which coffee gives you a bigger bang for your buck? While there are minor differences between the amount of caffeine per ounce in the leading coffees, the differences are minuscule. Second Cup offers the least expensive price per mg. of caffeine. But as the chart shows, the difference in price between the coffee with the most caffeine per ounce and the least amount is about 1 cent.
Remember, each companys idea of small, medium, large and extra large cup sizes are quite different. Second Cups small, for example, is bigger than Tim Hortons large. This is why its important to compare prices between companies based on number of ounces not on size. And in case you ever wondered, Starbucks labels its cups based on traditional Italian coffee language. Short is its version of small, tall is medium, grande is large and venti is extra-large.
Coffee seems like such a simple thing, but theres actually a lot of work and preparation that goes into it, says Kristen Mercure, a spokesperson from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., which produces coffee for four different coffee chains, including Timothys.
In an email, Mercure wrote, Contact time (how long something brews) is a factor in a coffees caffeine content (as caffeine is very water soluble). The grind size, ratio (water to coffee grounds) and serving size are also factors. Its impossible for every single cup of coffee to have the exact same amount of caffeine, Mercure says.
However, based on these calculations, though the amount of caffeine per cup does differ, it doesnt seem like the amount of caffeine plays much if any role in determining the price of each cup.