BY CARMEN FANNING
There’s no denying the love between college students and Starbucks. But what happens when that love becomes too expensive to buy? Recently, there has been an increase in the price of Starbucks drinks over the past two years and students are beginning to notice.
Last year Starbucks raised its prices and the trend continues into 2020. Prices are as high as they have ever been at Starbucks. There are three Starbucks locations in town including one on campus, which is the location that has seen the most drastic price increase.
Personally, I as an avid lover of iced chai tea lattes, have had to cut back on my spending at Starbucks because of the increase in prices. My freshman year a venti iced chai was $4.84, two years later it’s $5.90.
When asked why prices have risen on campus, head manager of the FHSU Starbucks location Nicole Kultgen explained.
“Part of why prices at the Union Starbucks location have gone up is the franchising fee Chartwells has to pay back to Starbucks,” she said. According to Kultgen, they are a licensee store that goes through the university to have the Starbucks name.
“For every dollar you guys spend here, a percentage of that goes back to Starbucks,” Kultgen said. “We also pay to be in this place, we pay Starbucks to use their name to be here. We’re paying that, and then the royalties.”
In comparing the prices of three popular drinks: a chai tea latte, cookie crumble frappuccino, and strawberry acai refresher at all three Starbucks locations in Hays, a Chai is $5.03 at the Dillons location, $5.08 at the off-campus location on Vine, and $5.90 on campus for a venti. The frappucino is $5.25 at Dillons, $5.74 on Vine and $6.22 on campus for a grande. Finally, the refresher is $4.45 at Dillons, $4.86 on Vine and $5.03 on campus for a Venti.
Kultgen went on to explain that students and customers only see the price increase, but don’t understand where that money goes and how much in expenses the location pays per week.
“When you break everything down you see it [the price increase], but as a student, you don’t see it,” Kultgen said. “You just see the price, but we see the whole thing. A percentage goes there, a percentage goes to wages, etc. On average our supplies are $20,000 a week.”
Kultgen said that she hasn’t noticed a major change in the number of customers at the union location, noting that Tuesday and Thursday are slower days with Monday, Wednesday, and Friday being about the same.
The rise in prices has also come with an increase in comments about how much someone’s favorite cup of coffee now costs, but Kultgen said bringing prices back down will depend on whether or not Starbucks notices a drop in sales.
“There have been a lot of complaints for prices. We can’t change anything, that’s why we try to offer discounts,” she said.
Many worry that prices will continue to rise.
“Depends on the outcome of it. If Starbucks sees that their sales are dropping then that would be in correlation with the prices rising. They can only take it so high,” said assistant manager Teryn Tompkins
FHSU student and pumpkin cold brew lover, Ellea Ediger, lives on campus and has had to monitor her spending at the popular coffee chain even though her visits are just as frequent.
“I go just as often because it’s convenient being on campus,” Ediger said. “Compared to my freshman year, I am more aware of my dining dollar balance and have been spending less money on food at Starbucks & just get their drinks.”
When asked what she does as an alternative she said she has started brewing her own coffee at home and only goes to Starbucks for their specialty drinks.
Price changes are affecting off-campus students as well, such as chai latte connoisseur Sienna Rodriguez.
“My thoughts on Starbucks’ prices rising are that it’s driven me away from buying on-campus,” Rodriguez said. “I live off-campus and work across town so I buy from the Starbucks in town because it’s on my way to work and it is more than 50 cents cheaper for my drink. This has caused me to not go into the Union as much because the only reason I went in the first place was for Starbucks, but I can’t justify buying a $6 drink.”
TMN spoke with ten additional college students, five males, and five females, asking if they would continue to spend their money at Starbucks regardless of the price increase. Eight out of the ten said yes further proving the point, there is nothing that can separate the bond between college students and coffee.