Oslo always tops the list of most expensive cities in the world . So, visitors probably expect to pay a little more for a cup of coffee here.


The above info graphic from Bloomberg News illustrates the cost of, specifically, a 16 ounce cup of Starbucks coffee in cities all over the world. It's supposed to demonstrate Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), explained in detail in the Wall Street Journal's piece: On Currencies, What's Fair is Hard to Say .

Before that $9.83 price tag makes you do a spit take, let me point out a couple of the graph's weak points:

  • I don't believe there's any place in Oslo that sells a 16 oz coffee. Standard cups of coffee here seem very small after frequenting Starbucks and Peets in the U.S. for so many years.
  • There is only one Starbucks in Oslo... and technically it's not in Oslo. It's at the Oslo Gardermoen Airport. And we all know how airports jack up their food prices. "Fourteen dollars for a tuna sandwich. We think that's fair. That's what we charge in our country."
  • Though this is a currency comparison chart, several American cities make the list, each with a different cost for the same cup of coffee. I know I've been out of the country a while, but the last time I checked, New York, Atlanta, and San Francisco all use the same dollar. New Yorkers and Georgians must be scratching their heads a bit over that one. San Franciscans are getting a great deal!

So, how much does coffee in Oslo cost?

Jonathan visits our neighborhood cafes for coffee a couple of times each week (a far cry from his twice-a-day Starbucks habit when we lived in California), and that has everything to do with the cost. At Kaffebrenneriet , Ă…pent Bakeri , or Jonathan's favorite, Mocca Kaffebar , he pays between 39 NOK and 49 NOK for a double mocha. That's $6.80 to $8.60 (based on today's exchange rate). At Oslo's trendy Cafe Fuglen , a double mocha is 42 NOK ($7.37).

Ouch. But as with everything else in Oslo, there's a reason coffee costs so much. When you step up to the counter at an Oslo cafe, the person at the cash register probably makes enough money to live. That's the thing. When you feel like you're paying through the nose, you're contributing to the security of Norwegian society. As the chart above demonstrates, it's easier to swallow this expensive little pill when you're earning the highly valued Norwegian kroner as well as paying with it.