The average price for a bagel with cream cheese and a large coffee in the Financial District will run you about $6.50, according to an informal survey by student reporters from the City Limits’ youth journalism training program, who visited 21 coffee shops and food carts in the lower Manhattan neighborhood this week.
This story was produced by student reporters in the City Limits Accountability Reporting Initiative For Youth (CLARIFY): Tasmia Afrin, Diana Azizova, Alexa Du, Melisa Kayatekin, Julia Kaylakov, Manuel Lozano-Velez, Zoe Martinez, Alyssa Olmeda, Mahirah Rahman, Rebecca Sampson, Jenna Zaza, Jieni Zheng, and Tanzina Vega.
If you buy a bagel and coffee in the Financial District, be prepared to spend more dough.
The average price for a bagel with cream cheese and a large coffee in the area will run you about $6.50, according to an informal survey by student reporters from the City Limits’ youth journalism training program, who visited 21 coffee shops and food carts in the lower Manhattan neighborhood this week.
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Like many other purchases, the classic New York breakfast has become more expensive since the beginning of the pandemic because of rising inflation across the country. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices nationwide have increased 9 percent from June 2021 to June 2022. As a result, some businesses have had to raise prices while customers are deciding where to spend their money.
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“The customers are complaining, but it’s not my fault,” said Taher Namper, 42, the manager at America’s Finest Deli on Trinity Place and Rector Street.
“I just raised the price last month and now I have to raise it again.” Today, a bagel and coffee at America’s Finest costs $8.25 compared to $4.25 before the pandemic. Speaking to reporters Monday, Namper gestured at a handful of empty tables and chairs in the deli. “Nobody is sitting here,” he said. “Can’t make a living, can’t pay the bills, I’m lucky to have a job right now.”
Many coffee and bagel purveyors in the area said their food costs had risen since the pandemic began forcing them to pass those costs on to their customers.
“During the pre-pandemic times a bulk of cream cheese was around $25 and now it’s $37,” said Noe Ciriaco, 34, an assistant manager at Bean and Bean Coffee on Wall Street where the price for a large coffee and bagel with a schmear is up to $8.36 today from $6.00 at the beginning of the pandemic.
Rami, 44, who runs Flavors cafe on Whitehall Street, said the price increases are part of the cost of doing business today.
“Business was dead for at least a year and a half,” said Rami, who declined to give his last name. “We tried to cut costs as much as we could, but it was hard. We lost a lot of money for the first few months.”
On the corner of Cedar Street and Broadway, one vendor placed a sign on his cart asking for “understanding and support during this difficult time,” as prices rise.
Some customers are taking the increases in stride. “If I have time to make it, I make it by myself,” said Regina Vee, of her morning coffee.
Vee, who is from Far Rockaway, Queens, said she only spends money to buy coffee from “coffee shops with a barista,” which have special options, such as cappuccinos, that she believes are worth the extra money.
Adam Bookman, 27, a customer at the Trinity Cafe, said the convenience of grabbing a bagel and coffee are worth the cost increases. “It’s New York, we are all busy hustlers and sometimes we do not have the time to make breakfast at home, so grabbing food before work is a must.”
Cleon Caton, 28, who works at Trinity Cafe, had a different view on rising food prices.
“I think things are ridiculous, people are trying to make up for what they lost from the market two years ago,” Caton said, “I stopped getting breakfast as much – before was good, you can take whatever change you have in your pocket and there’s your lunch, but now you need to plan for it.”