Is It Too Expensive To Eat Breakfast In Sydney Cafes?

By: Alex Harmon, ellaslist

Baby Boomers are forever shaking their heads at frivolous millennials who waste their days in cafes glued to their phones and Instagramming their meals. But nothing has shook headlines with quite the impact as when Bernard Salt, a loud and proud Baby Boomer and columnist for The Australian, said that 20-somethings would be able to afford a house deposit if they stopped going out to eat smashed avo on toast.

“I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more," he wrote.

“I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn’t they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.”

Obviously this is absurd.


Let’s Do The Maths

The humble smashed avocado on toast, if it’s jazzed up with feta, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with dukkah could cost you $22 and if you have it “several times a week” (let’s say three) it would equal $3,432 a year. The average house price in Sydney is around $890,000, making a 20% deposit around $178,000. So to get to this sum you would have to go without your cafe breakfast for around 52 years. Okay, Bernard, you’ve got our attention but you really need to work on your accounting skills.

But Does He Have A Point?

I’m sure Bernard is making more a statement about the wasteful, lazy youth who could easily make avocado on toast at home but choose to eat out on a regular basis. Of course millennials whinge that the prices of houses are out of their reach, have you seen the astronomical prices slapped on Sydney houses? This has nothing to do with the price of breakfast. Houses are unattainable for a lot of 30-somethings and 40-somethings too. Breakfast at a Sydney cafe isn’t the issue, it’s the fact that houses are now eight times the average annual salary. In the 1970s the average price of a Sydney house was $28,000 – and this was when going out for regular breakfast was unheard of.


Kids brother and sister drinking milkshakes in outdoor cafe

The Issue Of Going Out For Breakfast

In Bernard’s defence, he does have a point about the extravagance of eating out for breakfast. I’m not talking about millennials though, they can fork out for their single-serve breakfast and snap it up on their expensive smart phone, that’s fine, I’m sure they sleep fine at night. It’s families who are the real battlers – especially the ones with mortgages. Let’s take a Sydney mum and dad who are paying off a house with two young kids. How do they sleep at night under the crippling debt of their bank loan on top of laying down their hard-earned cash to pay for eggs on sourdough toast, flat whites, kid-sized milkshakes and banana bread for their brood? You can’t go to a Sydney cafe with your partner and two kids without spending around $100. And we seem to do this on a regular basis. Talk about decadent. Maybe Bernard should put families under the microscope.

It’s Part Of Our Culture

Growing up, going out for breakfast with my family was a luxury. It was something we did on holidays only – and even then it was a treat, usually when we had eaten our way through those mini cereal packs. These days, however, my two year old son knows exactly what to expect when he hears the barista clanging the coffee machine as we walk into our local cafe. He knows what to order, and as parents, we are constantly looking for new places to take him (thanks ellaslist). Going out for breakfast is like going to the park, except he gets sugary treats in order to bribe him into sitting down. How else are we able to enjoy our smashed avo in piece?

Is it slowly eating away at our mortgage fund? Yes. Will we stop? Probably not. Going out for breakfast or brunch is one of the joys of living in a cosmopolitan city like Sydney. So, even though he raises a good point, I will take Bernard’s comments with a grain of ‘salt’ – it’s much easier to digest my breakfast that way.