Stir crazy: Dublin coffee shop charges 20c for plastic spoons

Longer version of Irish Dail Mail article, 14 April 2012

Dave Kenny

They’ve suffered the Electrical Equipment Levy, the Income Levy and the Household Levy. Now Dubliners are being asked to pay another ‘tax’ … the Spoon Levy.

Commuters at Pearse train station are being driven stir crazy by the apparent ‘tightness’ of its café. ‘SoBu’ is now charging an extra 20c for spoons to stir their lattes with. On top of recent fares hikes, it’s left many travellers ‘frothing’.

So, are these spoons made of finest Newbridge silver? Or could this just be Ireland’s meanest café? The Irish Daily Mail decided to investigate.

There was no sign of Dublin’s most expensive spoons at the cash desk as we queued for our fix. What would they look like, we wondered? Then we spotted them – well out of reach of spoon thieves – behind the counter.

“That will be €1.80,” said the pleasant assistant, handing us our regular tea. Do you charge for spoons, we asked, pointing at the stirring implements.

“Well actually, yes, sorry.” Was this charge based on a desire to save the environment, we asked? Like the plastic bag levy?

“No, everyone asks for a plastic spoon, so management said to charge 20c for each of them.”

But surely the price of €1.80 for a paper cup, sugar, hot water and a teabag (with optional splash of milk) should also cover a spoon? Is it not a bit mean, we asked.

“We have to pay for the spoons,” he patiently explained. “If you buy food – for example, soup – then we can give you a spoon for free.” We didn’t like to point out that it’s rather difficult to eat soup without a spoon.

Not wanting to embarrass him any further, we asked if we could see the manager. Unfortunately, she wasn’t available to explain the ‘levy’.

We took our plastic purchase outside to examine it. There was no gold leaf or added embellishment for our 20c. Disappointed, we decided to ask our fellow commuters what they thought of the Spoon Levy.

“Were they being stolen by junkies to ‘cook up’ their fixes?” one traveller asked. We explained that this was unlikely, given that plastic spoons tend to melt with the application of flame.

Is it to do with litter, asked another. We hunted the platform for discarded spoons. There were none. Perhaps punters were taking them home, as we did, planning an evening of egg-and-plastic-spoon races.

By now, we were eager to know the true value of our spoon (for insurance purposes). Google revealed that a pack of 100 plastic dessert spoons costs €2.17 on That’s a miniscule 2.2c each, which means that SoBo’s spoons could be yielding up to an 890pc profit. There’s money to be made from spoons  – in spades.

So, is SoBo the meanest café in Ireland? We tried, but were unable, to get a response to this from the company behind it, Sanrex Pearse Trading.

We did note, however, that the Dublin firm is based at a seemingly appropriate address: Ebeneezer Drive.

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