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How Much Does Wholesale Coffee Cost?

Over the last few years, the average price of coffee has climbed higher and higher.
According to the 2021 Specialty Coffee Retail Price Index (SCRPI), the mean price of roasted specialty coffee in the US was $28.64 per pound for consumers, with the lowest‑priced beans being sold for an average of $18.28.
For wholesale coffee buyers, prices are rising too alongside the increasing cost of green coffee. Both commodity‑level beans and specialty beans from artisan roasters have higher wholesale costs than they did just a couple of years ago.
Given rising costs, is there a better way to source coffee than to buy wholesale?
In this article, we look into:
  • Where to find your coffee supply and what to consider when choosing your supplier
  • A breakdown of how wholesale coffee costs impact your profit margins
  • How to determine the most reasonable price range for your growing business
  • A possible alternative to wholesale coffee that can level up your cafe and profits

So How Much Does Wholesale Coffee Cost?

Wholesale roasted coffee beans typically cost between $8 per pound for commodity beans and $14 per pound for specialty coffee beans.
Below $8 and you’re likely working with beans that are noticeably lower quality or more than a couple of years past harvest. We suggest being very careful to investigate the coffee quality and roaster reputation or sourcing practices at this price.
Above $14 means the beans are most likely of an exceptional quality or a rare plant variety. We suggest running your numbers to understand how often your business and customers can support a higher cost coffee.
Every roaster’s definition for who qualifies for wholesale pricing is different. Some roasters require a weekly minimum at cafe volumes (30 lb per week or more), while others might offer wholesale pricing at smaller quantities or one‑off bulk orders.

How Wholesale Coffee Price Impact Your Profits

The average profit margin for a typical cafe ranges between 2.5% (Chron estimate) and 6.8% (Specialty Coffee Association)—and that rate is heavily influenced by wholesale coffee spending. The more you spend on your whole bean roasted coffee (higher cost of goods), the more you’ll have to raise your prices or the lower your margins will be.
Let’s imagine an example. You purchase a one‑pound or 450‑gram bag of roasted beans from a large commodity roaster for about $8. If you are brewing espresso or filter coffee with 16 grams of dry coffee grounds, you can make about 28 drinks from that one bag.
Or you could purchase a $12 bag from the local specialty roaster. It’s a little pricier, but now you’ll attract customers who know the name and reputation of that company and seek out higher‑quality coffee experiences.
How would those two scenarios compare? Let’s take a look.
Coffee Beans
Wholesale Price per Pound
Wholesale Price per Cup (28 cups)
Menu Sale Price per Cup
Gross Profit per Cup
Gross Profit % per Cup
Commodity
roaster
$8
28¢
$3
$2.72
90.7%
Specialty
roaster
$12
43¢
$3
$2.57
85.7%
Buying wholesale coffee has a huge influence on your numbers at the end of the month. Extrapolate this to the tens of thousands of coffee drinks you’ll sell in a year, and you’re looking at a meaningful chunk of change for every dollar you spend on wholesale coffee.
But it’s not all a numbers game—make sure to bring your customers’ preferences into the equation. Are your customers willing to spend a little more on a higher quality pour‑over or is that quick morning pick‑me‑up not something they are too picky about? Does the weight of their wallet trump their desire for impressive and nuanced flavors? Tune into your customers’ preferences to guide your sourcing decisions.

Define Your Own Margins by Roasting Your Own Coffee

Traditionally, opening an in‑house coffee roasting operation costs upwards of $100,000 just to get started between the commercial roaster, warehouse space, training, salary, supplies, and green coffee. It’s too large an up‑front cost for many, despite the obvious benefits of roasting in‑house.
It’s why we developed the Bellwether Roaster, a commercial coffee roaster that fits right into your existing cafe or bakery, designed by specialty coffee industry veterans.
Here’s how the Bellwether roasting system makes roasting cost‑effective and accessible for businesses in a whole new way:
  • It’s compact and designed to fit directly in your cafe—no extra warehouse needed
  • The Bellwether Roaster plugs straight into a normal electrical outlet and requires no gas supply line, ventilation installation, or special permits like traditional roasters
  • No need for special training. Creating roast profiles is as easy as pressing a few buttons and the roaster follows them automatically without requiring babysitting
  • Choose from our pre‑vetted marketplace of high‑scoring green coffee or use your own—either way, your cost of goods are way lower
With Bellwether, you can kick off your roasting at a very low startup cost and access the higher margin benefits of roasting for yourself immediately. You could even start roasting for other businesses around you, creating your own wholesale business and opening more doors to profit than you had before.

Profitability Comparison: Bellwether vs Wholesale Coffee Costs

When we consider wholesale coffee purchases with profit margins in view, there is a strong case to roast your own coffee instead. Let’s break it down.
Coffee Beans
Wholesale Price per Pound
Wholesale Price per Cup (28 cups)
Menu Sale Price per Cup
Gross Profit per Cup
Gross Profit % per Cup
Roasted in‑house with Bellwether
$5
21¢(based on 23.5 cups w/ shrinkage)
$3
$2.82
94%
Commodity
roaster
$8
28¢
$3
$2.72
90.7%
Specialty roaster
$12
43¢
$3
$2.57
85.7%
If you are spending about $5 per pound of green coffee, you will lose some of that weight in the roasting process due to the loss of moisture. This leaves you with an estimated 380 grams of quality coffee. Following the same recipe of 16 grams, you’ll get 23.5 cups of pour‑over or espresso‑based drinks. That is about 21¢ per cup—still a noteworthy drop in your usual cost of goods sold compared to buying wholesale.
By roasting in‑house, you can get all of the quality at a margin of the price and follow an easier path to profitability!

Start Roasting and Redefine Your Business

Get started with a Bellwether roaster and take your margins and cafe to the next level. Contact our team today for more information.
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