SELLING coffee for nearly £3 a cup might look like an easy way to make money – but the profit for the cafe is likely to be as little as 37p.

The boss of the Real Eating Company shared the figures as she spoke of the frustrating search for new premises.

The cafe is trading well at Yelverton Road in the town centre, but has not found a site to replace its other Bournemouth cafe, which was based in the now-closed Steamer Trading shop at Gervis Place.

Real Eating Company managing director Helena Hudson said she was looking for a new site but had been frustrated by high rent and business rates.

“At the moment it’s a question of whether we keep on looking in Bournemouth or whatever we try and look into other places,” she said.

Of the £2.75 a customer pays for a standard latte, she said 64p went on staff costs – the biggest single element. That figure will rise to 67p in April with increases to the national minimum wage and national living wage.

Another 31p goes on rent and 26p on business rates.

Just 19p goes on the coffee, 18p on the milk and 12p on a compostable cup and lid. VAT accounts for 46p.

Real Eating Company’s 37p profit is around 13 per cent of the price. Ms Hudson believes the national chains might make a little over 20 per cent.

Ms Hudson said she recently looked at a town centre site which was on the market for an annual rent of £75,000. “We’d have to sell 2,500 coffees per week to cover those rents,” she said.

“We’ve already looked at a couple of other sites. The problem is that the rents and rates just don’t stack up. There’s too much risk for us to take it on,” she said.

“We’ve had to move out of Steamer Trading and I’m paying to house that equipment in storage on the outskirts of Bournemouth.”

She has been looking alternatives towns, including Winchester, and says Bournemouth is not doing enough to help small businesses.

She said landlords would often prefer to have shops standing empty, because the value of their property portfolio was based on the “achievable rents” listed on paper.

If they filled shop units by accepting less than those rental figures, the value of their portfolio would go down.

She also claimed agents were often standing in the way of a solution. “The landlords are largely protected by agents. Agents have a vested interest in keeping the rents higher,” she said.

“A potential tenant can’t even go to the landlord to at least have a realistic conversation.”

She said of the site she saw recently: “To make this work, we would have to pay half the rental income they were expecting. When you put that to the agent, they won’t even talk to the landlord.”

n For an agent’s and landlord’s perspective on the high street crisis, see the Daily Echo on Monday.