A little taste of #TrumpsAmerica for you, an amuse bouche before the elephantine entrée lumbers into the Oval Office: Shortly after the election, Starbucks raised its prices on certain drinks by about 10 to 30 cents, according to Brian Sozzi of TheStreet, whose dogged investigation through receipt scouring exposed the price hike earlier this week. A Starbucks spokeswoman confirmed to Sozzi that the coffee chain began raising prices on November 10, just two days after the election, on cold beverages like cold brew—whose price hadn’t increased since it was introduced two years ago—and some bakery items. Hot coffee, espresso and tea prices will remain the same, though that’s small consolation for habitual Starbucks customers who saw those drinks increase in price this past summer.
In July, Starbucks made a “small price adjustment,” as the company put it, in its U.S. stores, increasing the average customer ticket by about one percent, with a 10 to 20 cent price increase on brewed coffee and a 10 to 30 cent increase on espresso beverages and tea lattes. “Pricing is continually evaluated on a product-by-product and market-by-market basis in our stores in order to balance business needs while continuing to provide value to our loyal customers,” Starbucks said in a statement at the time.
No surprise there. Starbucks—which, a spokesperson told me, can’t share historical information on its price increases—has been implementing incremental hikes for years. The summer before the July 2016 bump, Starbucks raised prices by 5 to 20 cents on some drinks, despite a boost in profits the previous quarter. The year before that, in 2014, Starbucks raised prices by less than one percent due to a drought in Brazil that increased coffee costs.
According to a handy timeline produced by Venessa Wong at Bloomberg Businessweek, “Starbucks has been raising prices piecemeal for more than 20 years.” In 2009, for instance, Starbucks raised prices on “labor-intensive beverages like Frappuccinos and Macchiatos” by about 30 cents, and in 2006, a 5 cent price hike on “most coffee drinks” was implemented. In 1997, Wong writes, “Starbucks ups the price of coffee by a nickel and espresso drinks by a dime” after coffee prices hit a 20-year high.
Going back further in time to 1994, Starbucks implemented its first price hike in more than three years, according to a Denver Post article cited by Wong. Back then, when Starbucks was but a modest chain with 425 stores, a tall coffee cost just $1.25. (It now will cost you $1.85) Ah, the halcyon days of #ClintonsAmerica.