Coffee Prices By Year And Adjusted For Inflation

The average price for a pound of coffee was $4.671 in March 2021 compared to $4.673 in February, data released April 13 by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows. Averaging the BLS’s monthly pricing data, the per-pound cost went up to $4.43 in 2020 from $4.14 in 2019, registering a year-over-year increase of 7%. (One pound of coffee can make about 48 6-ounce cups of coffee.)

Coffee is extremely popular. The British Coffee Association reports that it is the most sought drink worldwide with around 2 billion cups consumed daily. About 6 in 10 adults in the United States drink coffee every day, at an average of 2.9 cups per day for nearly 1,060 cups a year, according to poll reported by Reuters.

As shown in the table below, the cost of coffee peaked in 2012. Prices have been teetering lower since that height. The first column in the table lists average annual prices for a pound of coffee and the last column shows those prices adjusted for inflation in 2020 dollars.

Inflation Adjusted Coffee Prices (Years 1980-2020)

Category: Coffee (100%, Ground Roast, All Sizes, Per lb)

Year Average Coffee Prices by Year* Average Annual CPI for Coffee** Coffee Prices Adjusted for Inflation in 2020 Dollars
1980 $3.14 116.9 $5.44
1981 $2.53 96.9 $5.29
1982 $2.52 99.7 $5.12
1983 $2.47 98.4 $5.08
1984 $2.58 101.9 $5.13
1985 $2.58 103.6 $5.04
1986 $3.43 135.6 $5.12
1987 $2.79 113.7 $4.97
1988 $2.77 113.0 $4.96
1989 $3.07 120.8 $5.15
1990 $2.97 116.9 $5.14
1991 $2.81 113.8 $5.00
1992 $2.58 108.7 $4.81
1993 $2.47 107.6 $4.65
1994 $3.40 142.9 $4.82
1995 $4.04 167.7 $4.88
1996 $3.43 149.6 $4.64
1997 $4.11 176.3 $4.72
1998 $3.77 171.0 $4.46
1999 $3.43 158.0 $4.40
2000 $3.45 160.3 $4.36
2001 $3.09 148.9 $4.20
2002 $2.92 142.8 $4.14
2003 $2.92 145.9 $4.05
2004 $2.85 146.5 $3.94
2005 $3.26 165.6 $3.99
2006 $3.20 169.2 $3.83
2007 $3.47 179.704 $3.91
2009 $3.67 191.137 $3.89
2010 $3.91 192.496 $4.11
2011 $5.19 223.977 $4.69
2012 $5.68 227.613 $5.05
2013 $5.45 212.528 $5.19
2014 $4.99 207.924 $4.86
2015 $4.72 214.430 $4.46
2016 $4.39 208.098 $4.27
2017 $4.45 207.853 $4.33
2018 $4.30 203.468 $4.28
2019 $4.14 200.988 $4.17
2020 $4.43 202.462 $4.43

*Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Annual Average for Coffee, 100%, ground roast, all sizes, per lb. (453.6 gm) in U.S. city average, average price, not seasonally adjusted. CPI Average Price Data.

**Data Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Annual Average for Roasted coffee in U.S. city average, all urban consumers, not seasonally adjusted. CPI-All Urban Consumers.

Coffee in the CPI

Coffee is one of many food items the BLS monitors for pricing changes. The BLS uses it, along with a ton of other goods and services prices, to develop the closely-watched Consumer Price Index (CPI) and calculate the overall inflation rate.

Coffee Prices and Overall Inflation

That said, coffee has a relative low importance — even as a component within the major food category — as a part of that larger-encompassing CPI which also takes into account pricing changes for bigger ticket items like costs of clothing, gasoline, health care, vehicles, and shelter.

Still, considering how many Americans pay for and consume the beverage, some focused inflation comparisons are of note.

For example, taking the pricing data above for coffee, its price per pound increased from an average of $3.14 in 1980 to $4.43 in 2020, for a 41.1% increase in 40 years.

Using these same numbers on this site’s Inflation Calculator to see how they compare to overall inflation, which encompasses thousands of items — not just coffee, the calculator shows the $3.14 amount for 1980 adjusts to $9.86 in 2020, for a 214% increase.

The rate of increase for coffee prices moved significantly slower than overall inflation during the 40 years.

Then again, if you used the same process and compared figures from 2019 to 2020, coffee inflation ran well ahead of overall inflation.

How to Adjust Coffee Prices for Inflation

In calculating Coffee prices to adjust for inflation, we’ll use an example of their average price in 1980 and adjust that to 2020 dollars. First, consider these facts from the table above:

  • The average annual price for Coffee in 1980 was $3.14 per pound.
  • The annual average CPI for Coffee in 1980 was 116.9.
  • The annual average CPI for Coffee in 2020 was 202.462.

The following formula shows how to adjust Coffee prices for inflation:

1980 Coffee Price x (2020 CPI for Coffee / 1980 CPI for Coffee) = Adjusted Coffee Price in 2020 Dollars

Using the actual numbers:

$3.14 x (202.462/116.9) = $5.44