Festive price hikes still in place at some coffee shops

Mr Darren Tay, 38 (above), owner of Jin Chen Coffee Stall at Golden Shoe Market, raised his prices by 10 cents in October, after his suppliers started charging him more for coffee powder and condensed milk. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Mr Darren Tay, 38 (above), owner of Jin Chen Coffee Stall at Golden Shoe Market, raised his prices by 10 cents in October, after his suppliers started charging him more for coffee powder and condensed milk. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

They make them permanent, citing rise in costs of labour, rent and food items

It's almost two weeks since the Chinese New Year weekend but some coffee shops which typically raise their drink prices over the holiday period have made these hikes permanent.

They have cited a number of reasons ranging from increased staff wages to rental costs and prices of food items such as coffee powder, sugar and milk.

An islandwide check with 27 coffee shop operators and drink stall owners showed that eight had raised prices of their coffee and tea beverages by about 10 to 20 cents a cup.

The festive season offered a perfect opportunity for patrons to adjust to the new prices, said at least one stall owner.

Their stalls were located in areas such as Queenstown, Bedok, Tampines, Raffles Place, Ang Mo Kio and Bishan.

At the Golden Shoe Market in Raffles Place, a cup of coffee from Sunrise Traditional Coffee and Toast's stall now costs $1, up by 10 cents from before.

Owner Teo Saiew Lim, 49, said he raised his prices just after the festive period when his supplier notified him that the cost of condensed milk had gone up.

He put up a sign and reprinted his menu to notify customers of the new prices, he added.

Mr Tony Lee, 64, who runs a drink stall at Bedok Central Food Centre said he upped his prices of coffee and tea drinks by 10 cents late last year.

This was to cover increased costs of cleaning services - which went up from $200 to $250 a month late last year - as well as coffee powder.

A 9kg tin of coffee powder used to cost about $40 but recently went up to $75, he added.

Meanwhile, other drink stalls, such as one at Mei Ling Market and Food Centre in Queenstown and another at Pek Kio Market and Food Centre in Owen Road, told The Straits Times they had chosen to absorb the higher costs for now.

Madam Chiang Gek Hiang, 50, owner of Jin Ju Coffee Stall at Pek Kio Market and Food Centre, said she still makes "decent" profits despite the higher costs of raw ingredients.

Mr Hong Poh Hin, chairman of the Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants Association, which represents over 400 coffee shops here, attributed the price hikes to an increase in overall operating costs. Rental and labour costs have risen by about 10 per cent in the past year. "Rent for a coffee shop space in a central area can cost about $80,000 a month. A 10 per cent increase - or $8,000 - is a lot," he said.

Mr Thomas Foo, chairman of the Kheng Keow Coffee Merchants Restaurant and Bar-Owners Association added that costs of utilities, such as electricity and water, have also risen by 10 to 20 per cent.

The association represents more than 300 coffee shops here.

The Consumers Association of Singapore said it has received an estimated six complaints from consumers over the past three years about the high prices of coffee drinks at coffee shops.

Coffee drinker Danny Lim, who is in his 30s and works in the IT industry, said: "If you drink coffee every day, the 10 cent increase adds up to a lot."

Others, such as office manager Karen Peh, who is in her 40s, feel that the price increase is still reasonable. "I'm too used to drinking this type of coffee, as I find it better than those from coffee chains," she said.

"Even if prices rose further, by another 20 cents, I'd still continue to support coffee shops."

mellinjm@sph.com.sg

laurang@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Vanessa Chng

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