Friday, October 31, 2008

Just how expensive is Switzerland? The Starbucks Method.

I get asked a lot about how expensive Zurich and Switzerland really are, and while I always say things like 'VERY' and 'Are you prepared to sell your organs?' I always feel that perhaps the message is still getting lost or the reality is underestimated.

Welcome, the Starbucks method.

I think that by comparing the price of a cup of Joe, you can see very clearly how expensive different places are, because let's face it - it is just coffee, and it is the same around the world - that is the whole point of the Starbucks experience. And the price for a fancy cup of Starbucks is no doubt reflective of the purchasing power and cost of living abroad.

So here goes...

Here are the prices for various coffees at a Starbucks in Zurich, Switzerland:

Cup of the Day (Tall) - CHF 4,40
Espresso solo - CHF 4,20
Iced Caramel Macchiato (Tall)- CHF 6,20
Cafe Latte (Grande) - CHF 6,60
Mocha Frappuccino (Tall) - CHF 7,10
Premium Hot Chocolate (Tall) - 7,10
(this is crazy, the price of chocolate should be lower in Switzerland!)
Cappuccino (Venti) - CHF 7,20

I will have to ask for help regarding price comparisons, but I know that when I lived in Boston a Tall Grande Latte was about $3.80. So if you forget exchange rates and look at the purchasing power of a dollar or a franc for that matter, it is 73% more expensive to buy a Latte in Zurich than in Boston.

How is that for a comparison?

Who wants to join me for coffee now?! :)

Have a great weekend. I will be spending it with Sarah and I cannot wait. Perhaps we will see you at the Wine Messe (on about 8 ships on the Zurich See, I think) or on the streets of Baden. Have a good weekend!

Ps. Happy Halloween!


juanitatortilla said...

Ja, genau.

I like to use Starbucks and MacDonald's for an "inter-continental" city comparison (N.J. - Singapore - Zurich).
But burgers are not useful in this "comparative" test as their sizes differ from each continent! So, yes, [inject: Genau...] cuppaJoe works better for this purpose.

Zurich IS expensive.
You see now why I like brocki-shopping? *lol*

Bluefish said...

A venti chai latte is $5.36 cdn. In Denmark it's $9 cdn. Ouch.

Michelle said...

Yeah, Starbucks is a good way to compare. It is really expensive here. Although, I remember Hong Kong Starbucks was surprisingly expensive considering everything else was so cheap there. Love reading your blog!

eydimork said...

But, won't a cup of coffee cost as much as people are willing to pay for it, regardless of how much other things cost and what people's incomes?

Coffee houses are unproportionally expensive in Sweden, because we have a strong culture of chatting casually with friends over coffee and pastries, and we do this in the cities where we probably have to commute and can't just go home and inviting someone would be a hassle for them, so we also pay for the space (which we may take up for hours on just one cup of coffee) and the convenience of being able to see our friends more often. Thus, you can charge CHF 4,50 for a normal sized (for a home, not a Starbucks) cup of tea at a café.

I lived in Scotland before and they'd never charge that much for a cup of tea, ever. That said, it was a more expensive place to live.

That said, DAMN that's some expensive barely-any-coffee-in-it-coffee!

Jessica said...

Thanks for all the comments.

edimonk, I agree. Starbucks does charge more for the atmosphere, but I feel that the Starbucks culture itself is very similar worldwide. They create spaces for people to get together and meet up and drink coffee... so I felt that since Starbucks is basically selling an experience through coffee and their brand is built on that experience being the same wherever you go, the coffee prices would be a good indicator of what people are willing to pay for that experience taking into consideration the value of a 'dollar.'

Am I over analyzing this? :)

Regardless, you are right. That is an expensive cup of Joe. :)

Kathryn said...

I have no idea how much a Starbucks is here in Berlin. I just know it's really expensive, thus I never go in there :oP
Too much temptation to empty my wallet for a cup of coffee!

However, I was lazy and didn't feel like cooking last night (plus it was raining and cold) so I stopped by the local McDonald's drive through. Bought two happy meals plus a yucky chicken sandwich for myself and it was over €12. That's probably about $15....too darn expensive!!

M'dame Jo said...

I don't think that Starbucks method is good. In the US, it's where everyone line up in the morning to get coffee. In Switzerland, it's a place where expats who miss flavored coffee go and where people who buy their marketing go to have a "fancy" exotic coffee once in a while.

It's like putting a Migros in the middle of Manhattan, it wouldn't compare to other local supermarkets.

Mmmh, maybe this isn't a good comparison, but you get my point. I never go to Starbucks, unless I'm in the US. Coffee's better and cheaper anywhere else.

M'dame Jo said...

totally off topic, but I've seen the Rosetta Stone link in your column. Did you actually used it? I've always wondered about this method, but never tried, considering the price. Thanks.

M'dame Jo said...

Me again.

I remember something about the price of the Big Mac as a comparison.

The price in Switzerland was high... but some guys calculated another indicator, that is how much time a person must work in average to be able to buy a Big Mac... It suddenly changed the perspective in a very interesting way and Switzerland wasn't that expensive anymore...

M'dame Jo said...

Zurich is first in... domestic purchasing power.. and one has two work only 2 more minutes in Zurich than NYC.

rösti said...

Why would anyone buy Starbucks when it is sooo overpriced and burnt tasting? They overcharge because it is fashionable and AMERICAN. People will pay for it because it is trendy. A Swiss coffee will cost you from CHF 3.50 to CHF 4 at most. A latte macchiato should be around CHF 5. And they will taste much better, and usually come with a free piece of chocolate or little cookie! Down with Starbucks!!

Swiss Miss said...

I cannot believe the price of hot chocolate at Starbucks here. I agree it should be lower. But alas, the prices don't seem to be stopping the customers. The one at Central is always packed.

Zhu said...

Cappuccino (Venti) - CHF 7,20

Ouch! I can't afford my favorite drink in Switzerland? I know this is venti but still...

Expat Traveler said...

I just find it funny that you can buy beer and wine cheaper than a coffee. However, I think one key is that nobody drinks big coffee's in switzerland (except those non-swiss), so the usual price is near the 4CHF mark... Maybe a bit more... I never got anything bigger than a tall, nor do I now.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Just got a tall Cappucino in my hands though I always think, it is too expensive. On the other hand, you always have to compare the work hours and how much they pay as posted above. I'd say in Switzerland the usual monthly income is around CHF 3000 - 4500. Of course that depends and one has also to pay other things which are costy but still, compared to for example Rio de Janero where they earn... I dont know, what is it (?), around $300-400, more or less? That will for sure make the Coffee there also much more expensive :)
Anyway, great post!


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