Cup of fresh coffee with heart form milk drawing on blue wooden table, view from above, flat lay

Coffee and travel go hand in hand like red wine and steak or sunshine and blue waters. In cities all over the world, hip, well sourced coffee bars are popping up in any crevice they can find, bringing their best iteration of single origin, expertly brewed beans, in hopes of attracting a queue of people ready to part ways with cold hard cash for their daily dose.

Along my travels I’ve seen some pretty amusing ones, like Alfred in Los Angeles with their famous #$10Latte, and yes – it actually had a hashtag in the name. This 20 oz drink was nothing short of extraordinary though, made with four shots of Stumptown Grand Cru Espresso, over ice, with hand pressed almond milk offering inimitable texture, the way a tannin grips a glass of Cabernet.

Sure, $10 for a coffee is ridiculous, but it was like a meal. Which brings me to Alain Ducasse, the French chef, celebrated around the world with more Michelin stars than Paris has bars, or close. Officially, he has 21 – which is outrageously impressive. At the hip Coal Drops Yard outpost of his Le Cafe Alain Ducasse, a simple flat white – a drink of no more than 5.5 oz sets you back £5, but if you add almond milk, or oatmilk, the price jumps to £7.50.

Some might say… WTF. And considering that an entire bottle of Oatley, the typical barista choice of oat milk these days costs under £2, it might be justified when paying for just a little dash.

Cup of fresh coffee with heart form milk drawing on blue wooden table, view from above, flat layThere’s no question that artisanal coffee, made from ethically sourced beans (ideally) roasted in house is worth a significant premium over the burnt gunk in big chains.

Across most of the world, 2.60 in local currency is the general going rate for a well crafted drop of creamy textured caffeine in a good hipster coffee joint. My London area local imports their own beans, roasts weekly in front of my eyes and charges a humble £2.60, or £2.40 for those who bring their own cup. which puts Mr. Ducasse double, or even triple what most consider to be the highest end of the pricing spectrum for 5.5 oz of pleasure.

Naturally, this creates extremely lofty, edge of the earths atmosphere expectation, and this is where many guests are left bewildered. It’s good, but I’d take virtually any £2.60 coffee served in Melbourne over this version.

Perhaps, Mr. Ducasse doesn’t actually want oat milk flat white drinkers coming in at all. The flat white is certainly more purist than a latte or cappuccino, but it’s not the v60 or chemex of snobriety that brings out the true expression in the finest beans, which is what Mr. Ducasse has sourced for these outposts. Accordingly, those prices are only about double what most others charge.

One thing is for certain, even in a city known for extortionate prices, £7.50 for a flat white in London is just crazy. Unless you work at Google, which happens to be down the block.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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7 Comments

  1. What an f’ing ripoff. I make 2-3 pots of drip coffee per day at home from about $10 USD for a month. Hell, the 1/2 and 1/2 costs more than the coffee at about $15 USD per month. Add in the filters, tap water, generic Equal, and electricity, and it costs about $0.95/day.

  2. That isn’t the only establishment charging those prices. Last week I paid £7.50 for a single macchiato at another café run by a celebrity chef. And they did not have a menu card for their coffees. Rip off Britain comes to mind.

  3. ‘The way a tannin grips a glass of claret’? Hmmm… I think perhaps you may wish to familiarise yourself with what tannins are because trust me, they do not grip a glass of anything. Perhaps you meant ‘The way tannins from a glass of wine (tannins exist in white wine as well as red) coat your mouth’ 🙂

  4. Flat white prices in Australia are generally around 5 dollars but can be more. Sounds like 5 pounds or more is a total rip off. However just a normal coffee in any one of the chain coffee establishments tend to be over 3 pounds

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