Beau Donelly

The cost of a cup of coffee has increased at a faster rate in Melbourne than in any other city, according to a nationwide survey of cafes.

The audit, by coffee machine company Gilkatho, included low and high-end cafes across the country and found the average price of a caffeine fix in Melbourne increased by almost nine per cent over the past four years.

And prices are tipped to rise more rapidly as a global shortage of coffee beans threatens to drive up the cost of raw materials.

The annual survey of more than 1100 cafes shows the average price of a coffee in Australia is $3.54 for a takeaway and $3.59 to dine in. Sydneysiders pay the least for their daily roast ($3.34), while Perth has the most expensive coffee ($3.94).

Melbourne still boasts cheaper coffee than most cities, with the average cafe charging a palatable $3.43 for a takeaway, up about 30 cents since 2010.

But a small coffee is increasingly setting customers back more than $4 at some inner-city cafes, and prices are expected to continue their upward trend after a heatwave that ravaged crops in Brazil, the world’s biggest coffee producer, sent coffee prices soaring.

Anton Greenfield, director of Zest Specialty Coffee Roasters, which supplies about 100 cafes, said he may be forced to pass on increased costs due to the global coffee shortage.

Mr Greenfield said Tanzanian green beans had skyrocketed 40 per cent since March, increasing from $2.50 to $3.50 a kilo. “It’s a huge increase,” he said. “The drought in Brazil has pushed prices up across the board. We obviously wouldn’t pass the same percentage increase on to customers...but for cafe owners it may equate to 10 cents a cup at most.”

Mr Greenfield recommends his customers charge between $3.50 and $3.80 for a small coffee.

Wayne Fowler, managing director of Gilkatho, said research showed Melbourne cafes were charging slightly more for coffee in the last quarter of 2013, but then reduced prices as consumers voted with their feet.

“We think operators wanted to increase their prices a little bit but found there was some resistance from consumers and they’ve come back to where it was the middle of the year,” he said.

“It’s within a couple of cents but it’s unusual to see a price go down [between December 2013 and March 2014]. But Melbourne is very competitive.”

Gilkatho Cappuccino Price Index 2010 - 2014

Melbourne $3.15 up to $3.43

Brisbane $3.33 up to $3.61

Sydney $3.11 up to $3.34

Perth $3.70 up to $3.94

Adelaide $3.30 up to $3.47

Canberra $3.37 up to $3.52