The Coffee Index

We all know New York City costs a lot to live in. Just look at the coffee.

International human-resources consultancy Mercer polled the average prices of cups of coffee from medium-priced establishments in 20 world cities, including New York. Our average of $3.75 a cup was more expensive than 10 other cities' averages. The polling results came out in mid-June, but they’re definitely something to think about as various real estate firms ready their third-quarter housing numbers for release early next week.

Already, Manhattan’s average apartment price is over $1.3 million, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel. And recent home deals in places like the Plaza Hotel and Fifteen Central Park West (not to mention big-time townhouse sales over the summer) should drive that average only upward—or, barring that, keep it just as high.

Any shock value over such high home prices has long worn off. Even the casual New York voyeur expects our houses and apartments to cost much more than the rest of the nation's. After all, we exist in a reality where our cups of coffee cost a lot more than the rest of the world’s.

Rome, Madrid, Prague, Amsterdam and Paris—all these European capitals have cheaper cups of coffee, according to Mercer. So do smaller, more provincial locales like Vancouver, Sydney, Johannesburg and Warsaw.

Still, New York’s coffee pales beside the prices in cities like Tokyo (an average of $4.53 a cup); Beijing ($4.51); London ($3.89); Berlin ($4.61); Athens ($5.54); Dublin ($3.95); and Brussels ($4.08). And then there’s Moscow, where a cup averages a ridiculous $6.11.

Of course, in some of these cities, coffee isn’t the must-have it is in New York, the morning jolt craved by millions; or it might be hard to come by, like quiet in the East Village. Still, our coffee cup prices' place among the world's priciest is as good an answer as you’ll find for anyone who’s ever asked: How could anyone pay a million dollars for four walls and a ceiling?