Why is Starbucks So Expensive in 2023? (15 Reasons)

Starbucks is one of the most well-known coffee chains in the world and has gained a reputation for being a premium brand with premium prices. With its wide variety of custom-made drinks, high-quality ingredients, and the cost of operating a store, the question of why Starbucks is so expensive is a topic that has been discussed by many consumers. 

However, while the prices at Starbucks may be higher than other coffee chains and independent coffee shops, there are several reasons that contribute to this. Let’s take a deeper look and see what makes Starbucks so expensive compared to other similar chains.

Quick Summary

The high prices of Starbucks can be attributed to several reasons including the use of high-quality ingredients, a wide range of menu options, high-traffic prime locations, commitment to employees, heavy marketing and advertising expenses, specialized packaging, wide menu variety, limited-time offers, taxes, franchise fees, and the cost of operating a store. These factors contribute to the overall cost of Starbucks products and may be perceived as expensive by consumers.

15 Reasons Why Starbucks is So Expensive

There are many factors that may contribute to the perceived high prices at Starbucks. While the company uses high-quality ingredients and offers a wide range of menu options, these choices come at a cost that is passed on to customers. Here are 15 reasons why Starbucks may be perceived as expensive:

Quality ingredients

Starbucks sources its coffee beans from over 30 countries and uses 100% arabica beans, which are known for their superior taste and quality compared to cheaper options like robusta beans.

Additionally, the company uses premium teas and other high-quality ingredients in its drinks. While these ingredients come at a higher cost, they contribute to the overall flavor and quality of Starbucks products.


Starbucks allows customers to customize their drinks with a variety of options, including different types of milk (such as soy, almond, and oat), syrups, and toppings (such as whipped cream and chocolate shavings). These added ingredients and modifications can increase the price of a drink, as each additional ingredient has a cost associated with it.

Rent and real estate

Starbucks locations are often located in prime, high-traffic areas, such as shopping malls, airports, and downtown districts. These locations come at a higher cost in terms of rent and real estate, and these costs are often passed on to customers in the form of higher prices.

Labor costs

Starbucks is known for its strong commitment to its employees, including offering healthcare and other benefits. The company has also implemented policies such as providing paid sick leave and offering stock options to its workers. These labor costs can contribute to the overall cost of Starbucks products.

Marketing and advertising expenses

Starbucks has a strong brand and invests heavily in marketing and advertising campaigns. These expenses can include television commercials, social media advertising, and promotional events. These expenses can also contribute to the overall cost of Starbucks products.


Starbucks uses specialized packaging for its drinks, including cups and lids that are designed to be environmentally friendly and prevent spills. These options can be more expensive than generic, non-specialized packaging.

Menu Variety

Starbucks offers a wide variety of drinks and food items on its menu, including coffee, tea, smoothies, pastries, and sandwiches. Offering such a diverse menu requires a larger inventory of ingredients and kitchen equipment, which can be more expensive to produce and offer to customers compared to a simpler menu.

Limited-time offers

Starbucks often introduces limited-time offers and special menu items, such as seasonal drinks and holiday-themed treats. These items are typically only available for a short period of time and may be priced higher due to their temporary nature and the added costs of developing and promoting them.


Starbucks prices may include local and state taxes, which can vary by location and contribute to the overall cost of the products. These taxes are collected by the government and are not retained by the company.

Franchise fees

Many Starbucks locations are owned by franchisees, who pay franchise fees to the company in exchange for the right to use the Starbucks brand and business model. These fees can be passed on to customers in the form of higher prices.

Specialty drinks

Starbucks offers a range of specialty drinks, such as lattes, mochas, and frappuccinos, which are made with added ingredients and require more preparation time compared to simpler drinks like coffee and tea. These specialty drinks can be priced higher due to the added ingredients and preparation required.


Starbucks is a well-known and popular brand, with locations in over 80 countries worldwide. Its popularity can contribute to its perceived high prices, as customers are willing to pay a premium for the convenience and familiarity of the Starbucks experience.


Starbucks prices may vary by location, with prices being higher in certain areas due to factors such as the cost of living and local market conditions. 

For example, prices at Starbucks locations in cities with a higher cost of living, like New York or San Francisco, may be higher compared to prices at locations in smaller cities or towns. Additionally, prices may be affected by local competition and demand for Starbucks products

Size of drinks

Starbucks offers a range of sizes for its drinks, with larger sizes often costing more. For example, a small size (called a “tall” at Starbucks) may cost $2.50, while a large size (called a “venti”) may cost $3.50. The cost difference between sizes is due to the added ingredients and preparation required for larger sizes.

Comparisons to other coffee chains

Starbucks’ prices may seem high compared to other coffee chains that offer simpler menus and fewer customization options. These chains may not use as many high-quality ingredients or offer as many customization options, which can result in lower prices. However, customers who are willing to pay a premium for the quality and variety offered by Starbucks may not mind the higher prices.

Saving Money at Starbucks | Some Helpful Tips

No, deny Starbucks is In fact one of the high-end coffee chains, and its prices are not affordable for everyone. Still, the quality and taste it provides make you crave more every time. While you can’t have it for free no matter how much you want it to be, still you can save a little money to make your Starbucks more affordable every time you visit. So, here are some tips on how you can cut down your coffee costs at Starbucks.

Order a size down

Starbucks typically offers 4 sizes for its drinks: tall, Grande, venti, and trenta. While it may be tempting to order the largest size, a tall size will still give you the decent amount of caffeine you need to start your day and save you money. In fact, ordering a size down for all of your drinks can add up to significant savings over time and you can save that money for the next time.

Skip the syrup

We all love the toppings and syrups on our coffee. However, flavored syrups, such as vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut not only add extra calories to your body but also cost extra money. So, try ordering your drink with just milk and espresso for a more budget-friendly option. If you do want a flavored drink, consider asking for a pump or two of syrup instead of the standard amount.

Bring your own cup

Every time you are taking your cappuccino in Starbucks signature cups, you’re not just paying for what’s inside but also for the cups. And you can’t blame anyone for it cause no matter what, cups do come with manufacturing costs and you’re gonna have to pay for it. However, if you don’t wanna pay for the cups, you can always bring your own. Starbucks offers a discount for customers who bring in their own reusable tumblers. By doing this, not only will you save money, but you’ll also be helping the environment by using a reusable cup instead of a disposable one.

Look for discounts

Finally, to save money at Starbucks, always keep an eye out for discounts and promotions, such as Starbucks rewards, which can save you money on your favorite drinks. You can also sign up for the Starbucks newsletter to receive updates on promotions and special offers.

The Bottom Line

By looking at the various factors that contribute to the cost of Starbucks products we can see that there is more to the prices of Starbucks than meets the eye. 

The company offers a wide variety of options for customization, rewards for frequent customers, a commitment to sourcing ingredients ethically, and investing in programs to improve the lives of farmers and workers. 

All of these factors contribute to the perceived value of a Starbucks cup of coffee and can help customers make a choice that aligns with their values and taste. 

While the prices may be higher, the company’s value proposition, customer experience, and commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing can be a factor in making the choice to go for a cup of coffee from Starbucks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does Starbucks benefit from having a high-priced strategy?

A high-priced strategy can benefit Starbucks in several ways, such as attracting more affluent customers and establishing a premium brand image. Additionally, higher prices can also be used to justify higher costs associated with high-quality ingredients, customizations, and employee benefits.

Does Starbucks use ethically sourced ingredients?

Yes, Starbucks is committed to sourcing its coffee beans ethically and sustainably, using 100% arabica beans that are grown in certified farms that meet certain standards such as protecting workers’ rights and preserving the environment. They also have programs to source other ingredients such as chocolate, tea, and dairy ethically.

Does Starbucks have any options for budgeting a purchase?

Starbucks has different sizes of drinks to cater to different price ranges and also offers various promotions and discounts, such as reward programs and specials on certain days of the week, which can help to offset the cost for frequent customers.