NEW YORK -- People are now paying more to fuel up these days -- on coffee.
Coffee price increases have outpaced even the hike in gasoline prices the past year. A one-pound can of ground coffee sold for $5.10 in April, up 40 percent from $3.64 the year before, according to the Department of Labor. By comparison, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $3.83 on average on Tuesday, up 37 percent from a year earlier.
And while fuel prices are expected to stabilize, coffee increases could continue for some time because the prices that coffee companies pay for unroasted beans are still climbing -- fast. Coffee futures were trading for $2.61 per pound Tuesday, roughly double a year earlier.
J.M. Smucker Co., the maker of grocery store stalwart Folgers and of packaged varieties of Dunkin' Donuts coffee, said Tuesday that it is raising prices of most of its U.S. coffee products by 11 percent, its fourth increase in a year. Kraft Foods Inc., Peet's Coffee and Tea Inc., and Starbucks Corp. also recently hiked their prices for brewed and packaged coffee.
But the drink remains essential to many.
Eboney and Tyson Owens say they've noticed higher coffee prices. The couple aren't about to give up their buzz, but they're buying different brands depending on what costs least among their top four preferred brands -- Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, Godiva and Seattle's Best.
"I'm a Starbucks fan, I swear by it," Eboney Owens, 32, said during a recent grocery trip in Portland, Ore.
However, if something else is on sale or has a coupon available, she'll switch.
"We won't go bottom of the barrel, though," Tyson Owens, 31, added.
Labor Department data showed that food prices in the U.S. increased 0.8 percent in March, the largest monthly increase in nearly three years. The pace slowed to a 0.4 percent increase in April.