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I just paid $4.25 for an iced coffee - what the...?

Okay, so the quality of coffee has recently risen in NYC. Certainly. With the emergence of Stumptown, Blue Bottle, etc., we have finally become a reputable coffee town. The prices, however, are out of control.

I'm a big fan of iced coffee in the summer and I'm lovin' the cold brewed stuff. Birch Coffee and Think Coffee being my two recent faves. But today I ordered an iced coffee at Grumpy. It cost 4.25! I mean come on, I'm happy to pay 2.75, 3 bucks, maybe even a quarter or so more (I do understand the labor involved with making iced coffee well), but 4.25? Jesus!

Costa Rican bean. Great. Brewed in a clover. Nice. That'll be 4.25 please. Um...no!

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Think Coffee
1 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

Stumptown
18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

Birch Coffee
5 E 27 St, New York, NY 10010

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  1. I agree completely, even as I've set my top at, oh, $2.25. There's always a price/value ratio, and I'm convinced iced coffee can never be worth $4.25--it serves a much more plebeian function. By the way, I'm wondering how iced coffee demands more labor overhead than hot coffee. But if folks are willing to pay, then they will be so charged. Count me out.

    1. A few years ago, one of the local newspapers questioned the ridiculous cost of iced coffee vs. hot coffee and did a breakdown, figuring in the cost of the ice, the electricity it took to produce the ice and that fancy clear plastic cup (why does it have to be in a clear cup?) they give you. I think they came up with about a 5 cent extra cost per cup and that was being generous.

      1. That kills me. I went out of my way to stop into Grumpy to try their iced coffee, and had to walk right out. I really like Grumpy now that they're roasting, so I'm sure it's good, but I think even $3 is steep.

        Also, unlike hot coffee, iced isn't brewed multiple times per day... I even question if some places brew it daily at all. The concentrate from a cold brew probably keeps a while at that, so they're essentially just diluted it to make a pitcher.

        I'm also finding more and more that leftovers in a french press with some ice can go a long way, and taste better than some notable coffee shops.

        13 Replies
        1. re: sugartoof

          >I'm also finding more and more that leftovers in a french press with some ice can go a long way, and taste better than some notable coffee shops.

          Rising prices finally persuaded me to start making it at home this summer, and I've been delighted with the result. I'm not cold-brewing; just putting paper-filter drip coffee in the fridge a day ahead (and an extra cup or so in an ice cube tray in the freezer, so I'll have coffee ice cubes on hand). Recently I've been using Gimme's French roast or Jampit beans, dark roasts that seem to do well on ice. And I'm always open to switching it up, if anyone has other suggestions.

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          Gimme! Coffee
          228 Mott St, New York, NY 10012

          1. re: squid kun

            The Jampit is also what I'm using right now, and the day old iced method is wonderful with it. On a good day, it compares to Stumptown's chocolate-y cold brew.

            I think I'm going to try their Piccolo Mondo next, but I have no idea how it will hold up iced. The funny part is Gimme's own iced is lousy.

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            Stumptown
            18 W 29th Street, New York, NY 10001

            1. re: sugartoof

              I'm enjoying that chocolate note, too. Wish I'd gotten into this habit years ago.

              Never had a cup of coffee at the shop. And now I'm not at all tempted.

              1. re: squid kun

                I like to try the coffee in the store, and taste it brewed properly, so I can decide which beans to buy.

                They feature 2 different roasts each day, and it's a good way to sample. Their hot coffee is $1.50 for a small. I find that their absurdist flavor descriptions are pretty accurate, but this way I can find one I'd enjoy drinking every day.

              2. re: sugartoof

                If you like a chocolately cold brewed iced coffee, try it at Saturdays Surf NYC, which opened recently in Soho. They use La Colombe beans I think.

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                La Colombe
                270 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                1. re: kathryn

                  Kathryn, I'll have to try that...it will be hard to give up on La Colombe's own iced coffee nearby, with the shot of espresso, though.

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                  La Colombe
                  270 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    Hmmm...an A/B comparison is in order. Just bring a friend and multiple straws! They're only a few blocks away from one another...

                  2. re: kathryn

                    If you like La Colombe, b/w 3-6pm all coffee drinks (la Colombe is used) are half off. A large iced coffee is $1.23 after tax. Not to mention you can get lattes and cappuccinos half off as well.

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                    La Colombe
                    270 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                    1. re: bvanvoorhees

                      Witchcraft also has half priced coffee after 3:00 PM, $1. plus tax for hot, don't know what iced is though.

                      1. re: BluPlateSpec

                        Just saw that every coffee drink is half off from 3 to 6 PM.

                         
                      2. re: bvanvoorhees

                        Should be clarified, that this referenced 'Wichcraft's coffee happy hour.
                        If only La Colombe had a happy hour!

                        As noted in the duplicate comment before, it's a good deal, but iced coffee in the afternoon tends to have a strange after taste.

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                        La Colombe
                        270 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

                2. re: sugartoof

                  My home cold brew process requires a LOT more grounds than hot coffee, and straining the grounds is kind of annoying, so I'm willing to pay a markup for that.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    Good point about the French press stuff. I use the leftover which is usually a bit too strong and the ice cuts in nicely. Can't imagine how much $ I must be saving over a month or two!
                    JeremyEG
                    homecooklocavore.com

                  2. Coffee prices in general in NYC have been pretty high lately... but to pay more than $2.00 for a regular coffee (hot or iced) is getting a bit much.... maybe $2.50 for a really good, large cup, but even that is pushing it. I've been making my own at home lately and have been much happier with the quality--and price!

                    1. it's interesting, because even a drink i can't really replicate at home, a cappuccino, is jacked up here. Other major coffee towns have them for as low as $2.25, and seeing them at $2.50 isn't uncommon. That's unheard of here.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sugartoof

                        That's why I make it at home. Iced, espresso, whatever. Time to get real.

                      2. I know I'll get blasted but: I find that I.M.H.O. Dunkin Donuts has very good coffee, latte, espresso and Iced coffee drinks for much less than the "gourmet" places.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Motosport

                          The beans/roasting of Dunkin Donuts coffee is very very good, In the A.m. it sure has a caff. jolt!!!!!

                          1. re: Motosport

                            I don't think anything is particularly cheaper at Dunkin Donuts...$2 is about standard for a small iced coffee, so even though they're not charging Grumpy prices, they're also not roasting their own beans. Biggest problem with Dunkin iced is the quality varies so greatly. I never know what I'll get there....the ice can be weird, the coffee watery, etc.

                          2. Stick with Think Coffee, they have the best cold brewed iced coffee. The only problem is that you can never get a seat there. I think some of the patrons even have their mail and take out food delivered there.

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                            Think Coffee
                            1 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012

                            1. so did it taste $4.25 good?

                              i'm not a coffee snob by any means, as long as it's not acidic, I'm happy. Hell, I like the cheap iced coffee from street carts the best.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: janethepain

                                I like my coffee, but you are right: sometimes the carts have awesome coffee. Case in point: one of the best ice coffees I have had, anywhere, is from a cart across on 3rd Ave right near the corner of Fordham Rd. He's only there in the morning and is across from the road from Fordham University entrance.

                                Then again, most places do a shoddy job at making their iced coffee don't they?

                                1. re: janethepain

                                  I agree, cart coffee or whatever approximation of coffee they're serving, is usually darn good, and smooth. I suspect it's made from a packaged concentrate, like the ones you see from the bubbling iced coffee dispensers at delis.

                                  1. re: janethepain

                                    No, it was not good enough to justify 4.25. It was really good, but not exceptional. It should have booze in it for that price! Honestly, I've always liked Grumpy pretty well but after that kind of price gouging, they've simply lost my business.

                                    1. re: billyeats

                                      I'm pretty sure Grumpy has gone on record as also having served the $10 cup of hot coffee that made a bit of a stir.

                                  2. How large was it? 8oz? 10oz? 12oz?

                                    1. when i buy a coffee its a cinnamon hazlenut very delicious at least to my inexperienced coffee tastebuds, for $1.25

                                      1. I cannot in any way, shape or form condone paying so much for coffee. I'm lucky to work from home where I can buy, grind & brew my own coffee for a fraction of the cost. When you tally up how much the average office worker can spend on coffee in a week or month, it probably adds up to a great meal out... Kinda sad.
                                        _____
                                        my EV blog; http://www.eveats.com

                                        1. I happen to be at Financier yesterday and noticed that their iced coffee is fairly reasonably priced: $2.00/$2.50/$2.75 for small, medium and large.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Blumie

                                            That's about standard.

                                            One tip for reasonable coffee would be the Peets outlet inside the ING Cafe in midtown. I believe it's $1.50 for a large, and $1 for ING banking customers. It's the only place currently serving Peets in NY that I'm aware of.

                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                              I don't know if it's still there, but there used to be a Peet's in Terminal 7 (United, British Airways, Cathay Pacific) at JFK.

                                          2. B/w 3-6pm you can any coffee drink half off at 'Wichcraft. A large iced coffee is only $1.23. They use La Colombe which is arguably some of the best coffee around. Great deal if you ask me.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: bvanvoorhees

                                              But that does sound like a good deal for when I'm down by my friends at Astor Place. I believe there's a 'Wichcraft right nearby on 8th Street, no?

                                              1. re: bvanvoorhees

                                                A great deal I used to take of frequently, but be warned, the 'Wichcraft iced coffee tastes like chemicals lately.

                                                I've sampled it at multiple locations, all with the same problem.

                                              2. OK, I'm obviously in the considered minority on this point, but I've plunked down $4 (or whatever the Guatemalan costs) for iced coffee at Grumpy a number of times, and thought it was worth it. It's not just a matter of "smooth" - if that were it, or if this were just for my morning (or hot afternoon) wake-up coffee to go with breakfast, it certainly wouldn't be worth it. There are flavors in their coffee that there quite simply aren't in most other iced coffee I've tasted: citrus, honey, tastes that open up on the tongue over the course of a good few seconds. As an occasional Saturday treat, I think it can be worth half the price of a mediocre glass of wine at a restaurant for that.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: cjd260

                                                  As much as I love a bargain, I've paid over $5 for a cup of iced coffee at Roasting Plant and thought it was worth every penny. Beans were freshly roasted and brewed and served over ice.

                                                  -----
                                                  Roasting Plant
                                                  81 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                    Needle, was it the Kona?

                                                    (normally Roasting Plant just charges 50 cents more for icing a drink)

                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                      Yup. It was definitely the Kona. When I ordered it, they warned me that it was going to be pricier.

                                                  2. re: cjd260

                                                    I go to Grumpy 1-2 times per week and every cup of hot or iced coffee I have ever gotten has been worth every penny. I haven't tried every snobby coffee joint but have tried several and Grumpy's is far and away the best . As cjd260 mentioned, you get an array of flavors with each different roast. I haven't tasted anything like that in any other iced coffee, though I have had others that were very good and flavorful. Each iced coffee is made to order on the clover, too. And I am addicted to the Blue Sky muffins >.<

                                                    Speaking of those muffins, I finally found good coffee near my office that has them- Expresso Culture on 38th and 6th. Now, they have a great bang-for-the-buck iced coffee. Very reasonable at $2.50, it is that cold brew process that has been written about all summer. Get some good flavor there but it is subtle when compared to Grumpy.

                                                    1. re: Big B

                                                      So wait, if they brew it to order, is it basically just a cup of coffee poured over ice?

                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                        Yes, but it does not get watered down at all. It is worth $4 just to try it. Btw, not that 50 cents makes a different but there are usually 2 or even 3 choices of coffee and the least expensive is $3.25- $3.75 per cup.

                                                        1. re: Big B

                                                          "Yes, but it does not get watered down at all. "

                                                          It would have to, unless they're using coffee ice cubes, and even then.
                                                          I guess they brew it strong enough that it's not noticeable, but this is usually the worst way to make iced coffee.

                                                  3. I really think that is too much for a regular iced coffee. I use a Nespresso machine in the morning because it is so easy and I am barely functional. On the weekends I love this electric Bialetti Easy Cafe. Makes enough for a nice big espresso, and enough for a great iced coffee later in the day.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: hungryinmanhattan

                                                      Speaking of Nespresso, the Madison Avenue store has a coffee bar that serves some of the priciest drinks, iced coffee included, that I've seen in NY. The foil covered refill pods looked intimidatingly expensive by the boutique display in the back. The cafe doesn't allow take out and their iced coffee was priced higher than Grumpy's.

                                                      -----
                                                      Nespresso
                                                      92 Prince St, New York, NY 10012

                                                    2. Not bad-A shot is about 50 cents if you make it at home! I am a 2-shot person in the mornings. I do not know how that compares to other places but 1.00 for double shot espresso by nespresso is not too expensive. I have never been in their shop for coffee.

                                                      1. $4.25 is not too much for iced coffee. Clover drips run $4+ hot, so it's not unfathomable that the same brew served cold costs the same + a quarter or so. Look at espresso drinks. $.50 to a $1 premium for iced.

                                                        You also have to consider the origin of the bean. That Costa Rican is probably from a small lot from a small estate -- grown, picked, washed and dried with the utmost care, then expertly roasted locally in a small batch.

                                                        That said, $4.25 is not for everyone You now have a robust selection of cafes to patronize and options to tailor your experience. I will pay $4+ for that Clover drip, hot or cold, and enjoy the complexities and nuances of high-scoring coffees. Just like paying for that $8-$12 pint of craft beer. Not everyday, but a nice indulgence now and again.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: jasonross

                                                          There's no point brewing a high end cup of excellence microlot bean and pouring it into a cup of ice, watering it down.

                                                          Comparing the price of a Clover made small batch coffee to an iced coffee does not make sense. It helps that they're using a superior bean, but they're still using the worst technique for icing coffee and charging a premium.

                                                          1. re: sugartoof

                                                            You keep saying this, without having tried the Grumpy iced coffee. It kinda makes your argument moot. Go there, shell out $3.75 for an El Salvador iced, and then come back here and tell me if it tastes watered down... or if it tastes like one of the best iced coffees you have ever had, with hints of flavors usually not found on ice.

                                                            1. re: Big B

                                                              Is IS watered down. I'm not saying it tastes watered down.

                                                              Obviously I wouldn't know how it tastes, nor have I commented on the tastes....but if you want to drink a Clover made microlot Costa Rican, drink it at it's best and order it hot, not watered down.

                                                              According to you, they are watering down their coffee to ice it.

                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                Yes, I will yield that obviously, it must be watered down to some extent. They might brew it a little stronger/darker for the iced, since I am tasting no difference. They also mix it in the metal pitcher so it is already cold when you get it in your hand, which is nice.

                                                                I just got back from my weekly stop at Grumpy and was thinking that the original poster is not being entirely fair. Grumpy has three choices of bean, and the OP is complaining about the most expensive one. The El Salvador is $3.50, Guatemala is $3.75 and Costa Rica is $4.25 (my least favorite of the 3, btw). I know that $3.50 is still a $1 premium over most places and only a 75 cent difference but it makes the $4.25 complaint a little bit unfair. If I went to a restaurant and they served Veuve by the glass for $14 and Dom for $20, I wouldn't start a thread "Wtf, $20 for a glass of champagne!!!"

                                                                Just sayin..

                                                                1. re: Big B

                                                                  The menu I saw didn't make it obvious there were the cheaper iced options you're describing. I made the same mistake the OP made if that's the case, only I walked out without coffee.

                                                                  We're talking about standard markups, not contrasting products between two products. Grumpy sold a $12 cup of coffee this year. It's very fair to discuss their pricing. In this case, they're serving a bastardized approach to icing coffee no high end roaster would approve of. Compare that to Blue Bottle, selling a pure drip from a special piece of equipment for a similar price.

                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                    My original posting was not to suggest Grumpy isn't doing quality stuff. They really are and yes, that Costa Rican did have some very interesting dimensions of flavor. However, regardless of the uniqueness of the bean (not all that unique), and the extra labor involved in making iced (not much), the price tag simply isn't justified.

                                                                    Also, the trend in coffee pricing in New York is part of what I was commenting on. I also refuse to pay 4 bucks to the Blue Bottle Cafe-teria place for their Kyoto iced thing.

                                                        2. Anyone on this thread know how long in advance iced coffee can be brewed (from good beans) and kept in the fridge without becoming unpleasant? I usually make it fresh but I also drink it with a little cream and I wondering if I could keep a couple cups at a time in the fridge. Thanks.
                                                          JeremyEG
                                                          homecooklocavore.com

                                                          3 Replies
                                                            1. re: JeremyEG

                                                              I usually go no more than 2 days. That does not mean it is bad or dangerous to go longer. That I do not know but it tastes fine for a couple of days. I just put whatever I did not finish in an airtight container, so it stays fresher. If you use sugar, add it while it is still warm so it dissolves.

                                                            2. You can expect to pay $4.65 for a Blue Bottle ice coffee at the newly opened Andaz Hotel on 5th Ave near the library. Was it worth it? Hell no! Especially when you can get Stumptown ice coffees for $2.25 at Vic's Bagel Bar in Murray Hill .

                                                              -----
                                                              Vic's Bagel Bar
                                                              544 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                                              1. It's gotta be cold-brewed. Otherwise just get a double espresso (hopefully NOT $4) and pour it over ice (might as well go into some deli & ask for a cup of ice). Think Coffee does cold-brewed, it's weak for my taste but decent. And interestingly not expensive. I do cold-brewing at home and the coffee-to-water ratio is much higher than regular brew, so if a shop is charging more for cold-brewed that's understandable. Still, $4 is highway robbery.

                                                                -----
                                                                Think Coffee
                                                                248 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                1. Cold-brew your own. www.toddycafe.com

                                                                  Get a low acidic pound of beans, coarse grind and let it sit on the counter for 24 hrs then refrigerate the concentrate. Cut with water to taste. Much better than anything you will get at a coffee shop.