Does your organic coffeehouse charge more for soy? Why?

There seems to be a rather unfair punishment for customers ordering soy that's based more on what the market will bear than on actual cost ratios -- that is, assuming the cafe is using the healthiest, high-quality organic cow-milk and serving Fair Trade organic coffee. In an area where there's a consistent market for soy drinks, and as demand grows all the time, isn't it time we adjust prices to reflect its standing? Why, when the difference in cost couldn't possibly amount to more than a few cents per serving, is the industry norm to inflict a mark-up of $.50, regardless of drink size?

I'm not a manager in the cafe I work at... I don't crunch the numbers myself. I just know that we don't charge any more for soy than for cow, and that as a soy-drinker (admittedly spoiled by my endless free drinks at work) I always feel a little ripped when I encounter the soy-tax...

Views: 1271

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

If you are a customer, please just understand that shops need to cover expenses to keep the doors open. It is great that some shops are willing to eat this extra cost, for whatever reason. I do think that a good step is for us shops to take a look at what's charged for a soy substitutions. Make sure that it is not marked up more than your standard.
And personally as a shop owner who pays everybody from a long list of government agencies, utilities, suppliers and employees before I ever see a dime when I happen to see a dime if you don't like paying more even though it costs more, I say tough, don't order soy. Snivel and feel all put out all you want. Until you're the one literally putting your house on the line and providing other people jobs you got nothing to say about it in my book. Jimmy Cricket had it all wrong. Nobody owes you something for nothing. Unfair? BS.
That's Jiminy, kind sir. Mr. Cricket, to you.

I finally got the info I need to engage a little more in this discussion. Turns out that around these parts, we pay about $6.04/gallon for good local organic milk, and about $7.16/gallon for decent organic soy. That breaks down to about $.06/oz soy, vs. $.05/oz cow. Management, being of gracious mind and not wanting to wedge any parsimonious upcharge between us and the customers (like, say, an airline charging for checked baggage), finds other areas to save. We keep our menu simple, prices low, and customers happy. We are a pie shop/bakery, though, soon to be expanding our menu, so we have a lot of other variables and options to cover the difference. We don't charge more for the option of a spoonful of fresh organic hand-whipped cream on your slice of pie. We don't upcharge for use of the half-n-half pitcher on the condiment bar, even though it's $9.84/gallon. We charge a flat $1.75 for a dose of any tea, regardless of differences in cost per ounce to us -- really good green, black, and flowery herbal nettle or whatever stuff alike. Some things are more profitable than others, and that's where we make up for things that are far less profitable, like soy drinks. Another example of this balance is with the pies -- banana cream costs a lot to make; lots of pricey organic ingredients and time/labor/refrigeration involved. Plum frangipane tart, however, is much cheaper and easier. We charge the same per pie and per slice; they even each other out, our menu stays simple, we still make money, and so far it's worked out. In the end, the profits made on milk drinks of any sort, overall, result in us not losing money either way. We could make more with an upcharge, sure, but passing a thing like that onto the customers just doesn't jibe with the way our managers enjoy doing business.

(As for us soy-nuts being "used to paying more at the grocery store"... I checked my local worker-owned collective/co-op grocery shelves. Half gallon of Clover organic cow was actually $.10 more than a half gallon of Wildwood organic soy. Tell ya the truth, I was pretty surprised about that, myself. And it ain't no conspiracy -- by all accounts the dairy workers at this store tend to resent us vegan-types.)

Of course, at our cafe we do a lot of stuff differently, and our volume is relatively small, so we may not be the best example in the end. We're even thinking of lowering the cost of coffee "for here", to reflect the cost of paper cups and sleeves to go. No upcharge -- a downcharge, in fact, to clue people in to the waste we're (they're) generating.

Anyway... after a good chat with my boss about it, it seems she takes it upon herself to make soy work without an upcharge, partially out of her philosophy, but also because the cost differential isn't as staggering as people are citing above. (Which is pretty crazy -- soy being 4 or 5 times the cost of cow?? That's insane. That's gotta be one cheap-n-dirty cow.)
Consider that most shops are not using organic milk and their base prices are for a gallon of milk that costs about $3.50 (whole). I think it is great that your shop uses organic milk. we have considered adding organic milk to our menu here, but with the same upcharge as soy.

again not to disrespect soy or organic drinkers, but because the prices were not calculated at 6-7 dollars a gallon of milk. i prefer organic milk and if its not available organic non gen/mod soy will do. but you just can't beat a good cup of joe or spro without any milk.

soysucker said:
That's Jiminy, kind sir. Mr. Cricket, to you.
I finally got the info I need to engage a little more in this discussion. Turns out that around these parts, we pay about $6.04/gallon for good local organic milk, and about $7.16/gallon for decent organic soy. That breaks down to about $.06/oz soy, vs. $.05/oz cow. Management, being of gracious mind and not wanting to wedge any parsimonious upcharge between us and the customers (like, say, an airline charging for checked baggage), finds other areas to save. We keep our menu simple, prices low, and customers happy. We are a pie shop/bakery, though, soon to be expanding our menu, so we have a lot of other variables and options to cover the difference. We don't charge more for the option of a spoonful of fresh organic hand-whipped cream on your slice of pie. We don't upcharge for use of the half-n-half pitcher on the condiment bar, even though it's $9.84/gallon. We charge a flat $1.75 for a dose of any tea, regardless of differences in cost per ounce to us -- really good green, black, and flowery herbal nettle or whatever stuff alike. Some things are more profitable than others, and that's where we make up for things that are far less profitable, like soy drinks. Another example of this balance is with the pies -- banana cream costs a lot to make; lots of pricey organic ingredients and time/labor/refrigeration involved. Plum frangipane tart, however, is much cheaper and easier. We charge the same per pie and per slice; they even each other out, our menu stays simple, we still make money, and so far it's worked out. In the end, the profits made on milk drinks of any sort, overall, result in us not losing money either way. We could make more with an upcharge, sure, but passing a thing like that onto the customers just doesn't jibe with the way our managers enjoy doing business.
(As for us soy-nuts being "used to paying more at the grocery store"... I checked my local worker-owned collective/co-op grocery shelves. Half gallon of Clover organic cow was actually $.10 more than a half gallon of Wildwood organic soy. Tell ya the truth, I was pretty surprised about that, myself. And it ain't no conspiracy -- by all accounts the dairy workers at this store tend to resent us vegan-types.)

Of course, at our cafe we do a lot of stuff differently, and our volume is relatively small, so we may not be the best example in the end. We're even thinking of lowering the cost of coffee "for here", to reflect the cost of paper cups and sleeves to go. No upcharge -- a downcharge, in fact, to clue people in to the waste we're (they're) generating.

Anyway... after a good chat with my boss about it, it seems she takes it upon herself to make soy work without an upcharge, partially out of her philosophy, but also because the cost differential isn't as staggering as people are citing above. (Which is pretty crazy -- soy being 4 or 5 times the cost of cow?? That's insane. That's gotta be one cheap-n-dirty cow.)
mike cubbage said:
Consider that most shops are not using organic milk and their base prices are for a gallon of milk that costs about $3.50 (whole). I think it is great that your shop uses organic milk. we have considered adding organic milk to our menu here, but with the same upcharge as soy.


Same here... only more like $4 for us. Seriously? $6 milk? This certainly explains some of the difference in perception. We offered an organic option as well, but dropped it due to lack of interest. Will maybe try again one day.
really??? You definitely don't mean less than $3 per carton (1/2gal)? Maybe I got my numbers all wrong... they were scrawled out for me on a piece of scrap paper: "milk, 3.02", etc -- which she said was per container, which I took to mean per 1/2gal carton, which would mean 6.04/gal... Can it be we pay more than twice as much as you for org cow?

janvier said:
Yeah. . . maybe it's just proximity to dairy farms and a killer distribution system. . . my organic milk is less than $3.00 a gallon.
I agree with the comments that it seems unfair to levy a flat "upcharge" across all drink sizes. But I do feel that it is reasonable to charge a small fee for soy to cover added costs. Adding soy to the menu is a choice that owners make in order to accommodate some customers' wishes. The alternative would be to not offer soy at all. I don't ever eat red meat and there is a well-known hamburger chain here in CA that does not serve any non-beef sandwiches. Therefore, I do not eat there. At other burger chains the chicken sandwiches used to cost a LOT more than the beef alternatives. Now that chicken has become much more popular these prices are more equitable.
We get ours from Crystal Dairy, and its $6.30 a gallon.
To be clear while Sunshine is steroid free etc. and uses organic methods, they are not certified organic. My understanding they choose not to go through the exhorbitant expenses to get Organic certification which would mean they'd have to charge us all more. Which of course doesn't stop all the top shops in the area from using them because their milk is consistent and tastes better, my shop included. Price ~$4 per gallon. (Price fluxuates up and down above and below $4 every couple of weeks.)

Just as Fair Trade or Certified Organic or Bird Friendly etc. coffee doesn't really mean anything in the cup, Certified Organic doesn't necessarily mean better milk either. It's all about actual taste comparisons.

janvier said:
It's by the gallon for us.

It's very unlikely that you're paying any where near $6/gal for organic from a commercial dairy distributor. Unless you guys are just going to the store for your milk. And if you are, stop it. We have a great dairy co-op/distributor here called Sunshine Dairy. They get us all of our dairy products and they deliver pacific soy and rice milk as well. We don't get our soy and rice milk from them, though. It's even more expensive. We use them where I work now, as well as the cafe I used to manage in Hood River.

soysucker said:
really??? You definitely don't mean less than $3 per carton (1/2gal)? Maybe I got my numbers all wrong... they were scrawled out for me on a piece of scrap paper: "milk, 3.02", etc -- which she said was per container, which I took to mean per 1/2gal carton, which would mean 6.04/gal... Can it be we pay more than twice as much as you for org cow?
This is a very interesting topic. I work for a soy beverage manufacturer in Canada. I see both sides of the fence, one as a consumer, the other as a producer. As a consumer, I would don't know if I would truly understand, why I would be charged that much more. As soy is only 2 cents an ounce more. However, as a supplier I do want to see my end-users profitable. So if they can make more margin on soy based products. Well good for them!!! We are all in business to make a return on our investment. Soy beverage drinkers are generally educated consumers who do pay more for there products in grocery. So should they not pay more in your local coffee shops???
Qusetion for all of you... What percentage of lattes/ specialtly beverages are going out of you're shops? As compared to moo juice.
Organic* soy milk costs us $3.50 for 32 oz or $14 a gallon vrs. $5.45 per gallon of organic milk.

We're in organic milk-land, 45+ organic dairy farms within 45 miles, and the price has been over $5 a gallon for quite some time. I am very surprised to learn it can be had for less than $4 a gallon.

Given that soy costs us more than 2.5 times what milk costs, yes an up charge is fully acceptable to me.
*I do have to question the organic-ness of any soybean that comes from China. China has a pathetic organic track record.

Milk from cows that spend 300+ days in pasture will taste better than milk raised on grain and silage. I've learned a heck of a lot about dairies and tasted a s**t-ton of milk from different producers in the past 18 months and would wager that organic milk will categorically out perform conventional milk in blind taste tests any day. Also, Jersey will beat out Holstein in my book.

I'd also wager that a dairy who has cited the "costs of certification" as their reason for avoiding organic certification will really want to avoid the costs of buying organic grain, silage, haylage and certified organic nutrient suppliments. Even pastured cattle needs supplemental feed and nutrient rations, it adds tremendous expense, that is the reason organic dairy is more expensive. Honestly the cost of certification is negligible, the farmers I know cite the expense of organic feed as the reason cost of production is so much higher.

I would question anyone who tells me that it is the actual cost of the organic certification that would add $1-2 a gallon and then tell me that they spend extra to feed the cattle organic rations without charging me more for the milk.

300 head can be certified for less than $3000 a year, given that cows can produce 6-8 gallons of milk per day, your certification cost per gallon is fractions of cents.
No joke! It seems the problems with soy are ignored by the FDA and the public in general. It's not exactly a health food.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Barista Exchange Partners

Barista Exchange Friends

Keep Barista Exchange Free

Are you enjoying Barista Exchange? Is it helping you promote your business and helping you network in this great industry? Donate today to keep it free to all members. Supporters can join the "Supporters Group" with a donation. Thanks!

Clicky Web Analytics

© 2022   Created by Matt Milletto.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service