“Yes! Overpriced coffee.” … “That’s 37 dollars.” … “Wa-ha! Awesome!”
When Emmet gets excited about paying way too much for a cup of coffee in The Lego Movie it’s one of those moments where the adults laugh louder than the kids (while wondering just how long it will be until they’re really paying that much for their morning caffeine hit).
As I handed over $4 for a takeaway latte in Sydney after watching the film I had a flashback to a little place in the United States that’s at the other end of the scale. A place where I found what I believe to be the cheapest cup of coffee in America*.
In the town of Foley, Alabama you’ll find Stacey Drugs & Olde Tyme Soda Fountain, which is one of the sweetest pharmacies I’ve ever seen. Up until very recently they offered free home delivery in a beautiful old 1931 Model A car, a service they only suspended after a full restoration meant it could no longer travel safely on the highway.
As the name suggests, Stacey’s is more than a drug store. It also has a soda fountain serving sodas, sundaes, splits, and tin roofs, which it turns out are chocolate sundaes with Spanish peanuts. They sell gifts and cards, and you can put some money in their jukebox as a model train circles overhead.
And there at the front of the store they have coffee for 10 cents.
Turning the usual have in / takeaway prices around, here the 10 cent coffee is only for those who help themselves to one of the mugs beside the coffee pot and drink it in store. Takeaway is also an option, but the 16oz takeaway cup is 25 cents instead. Which still may be in the running for the cheapest takeaway cup of coffee in America.
As I sat and drank my coffee for a dime I spied something else that I had never seen before. A contraption that promised to tell me my fortune as it told me how much I weighed.
Yes, a “Wate and Fate” machine, and this one only cost a penny. For someone who lives in a country where one cent pieces were phased out more than ten years ago, being able to use a single cent in a machine was a novelty in itself. It was a bonus that I was being offered the chance to try out a fortune telling set of scales.
I stepped on, put my penny into the slot next to the month I was born and waited / weighted. I won’t share how many pounds it thought I was but when it said I was a hard headed type who loses no time dreaming I hoped it was as off about my weight as it was about my personality (though considering I was on a road trip through the deep south with all of that amazing food, it was probably right in the first case).
Stepping off the scales and out of the store, I was back in the real world, where it’s hard to find anything for a single dime.
These days your average cup of coffee may not quite be hitting 37 dollars just yet, but according to that other important CPI, the Cappuccino Price Index the average takeaway cup in Australia last year was $3.54.
That means if you buy two takeaway cups a day you’ll pay $2,584 a year.
A quick check on Skyscanner shows I can fly from Sydney to Alabama for $1,570. So that’s a return flight plus $1,000 spending money for the same price as two cups of coffee a day.
I know which one I’d rather have, and as Emmet would say, it’s awesome!
* At the time of writing you could still get a cup of coffee for ten cents in Stacey’s Drugs in Foley, Alabama. Having not tried every cup of coffee in the USA it’s hard to be certain that this is indeed the cheapest, and I welcome any other examples of coffee that you may have found for less.
Amanda travelled as a guest of Alabama Tourism but as usual all opinions and thoughts remain her own.
Speaking of Alabama road trips, you may also like to check out my piece on a USA road trip to some music hot spots in the Deep South, find out how to keep your personal mobile phone data safe in a rental car and a handy tip for telling what side of your car your fuel tank is on.
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