How Casa Salvo Defies Rising Coffee Prices In NYC With High-quality Espressos For Just $2.50

As inflation continues to drive up costs in New York City, coffee prices have never been higher. The average price for a cup of coffee in the city now ranges from $6 to $7 after add-ons, tax, and a tip, according to Eater. Rising rent, increased merchandise costs, and unpredictable weather affecting coffee harvests are all contributing factors. Despite this trend, a few coffee shops are bucking the trend by offering high-quality coffee at significantly lower prices.

Casa Salvo, an espresso bar on the Upper West Side, is one such establishment. Owned by Chef Salvo Lo Castro, Casa Salvo offers all its beverages for just $2.50, significantly below the city’s average coffee price. “I produce coffee, and coffee must be a drink for everyone, not something out of this world,” the Sicily-born barista told the New York Post.

Located at 473 Amsterdam Ave. at 83rd Street, Casa Salvo serves everything from simple espressos to extravagant cappuccinos with pistachio cream, all at the same affordable price.

The Man Behind Casa Salvo: Salvo Lo Castro

Salvo Lo Castro has a rich background, having worked for the Vatican and five-star hotels for thirty years. His ability to offer low-priced coffee stems from his role as a brand ambassador for Dokito, a Rome-based coffee supplier. This position allows him access to high-quality coffee beans at a reasonable cost. The beans used at Casa Salvo are a unique blend of 10% pistachio, 10% Ethiopian, and 80% Arabica.

“In Italy, the price of the coffee is cheap,” Lo Castro explained. “And you arrive, drink the coffee and go.” This fast-paced, inexpensive espresso culture inspired Lo Castro to bring a similar experience to New York. He noted, “I don’t want people staying one hour for one coffee,” referencing the quick service typical in Sicily.

To maintain this model, Casa Salvo has only six outdoor tables with no indoor seating, discouraging long stays and ensuring a steady flow of customers.

Competing with High Labour Costs

caso salvo
Salvo Lo Castro holds his unique blend of coffee beans.
@CasaSalvoNYC via Instagram

While Starbucks increased prices in California in April to cover the costs associated with the state’s $20 minimum wage requirement, Lo Castro believes that high sales volume will be key to Casa Salvo’s success. Since opening in May, he has already served 7,500 coffees. “Volume will keep us going,” he said, drawing a parallel with the high turnover typical in Italian coffee bars.

Casa Salvo also functions as a speciality store, offering reasonably priced pasta, olive oils, balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, and other Italian-style products. The coffee shop features Italian pastries like cannoli and bombolini, which complement the coffee better than the standard muffins and scones found in many other coffee shops. Freshly baked cornetti topped with pistachio cream are available throughout the day.

Keeping Costs Low Without Sacrificing Quality

Lo Castro’s business model relies heavily on maintaining low costs without compromising the quality of his coffee. He attributes this to his connections within the coffee industry and his strategic partnerships. By sourcing beans directly and cutting out middlemen, he can keep prices low while still delivering a premium product.

“We want to bring the authentic Italian coffee experience to New York, without the high price tag,” Lo Castro said. This approach not only attracts a diverse customer base but also builds a loyal following among coffee enthusiasts who appreciate quality and affordability.

Customer Reception

So far, Casa Salvo has received positive feedback from customers on Yelp. One reviewer praised the espresso as “nothing short of perfection — rich, smooth, and aromatic.” Another customer highlighted the “amazing value for the price,” noting that it’s rare to find such high-quality coffee at such an affordable rate in New York City.

Future Plans

Looking ahead, Lo Castro plans to expand his offerings while maintaining the core values of quality and affordability. He is exploring the possibility of introducing more Italian delicacies and beverages to the menu, as well as potentially opening additional locations throughout the city. However, he is committed to ensuring that any expansion does not compromise the customer experience or the essence of what makes Casa Salvo special.

Casa Salvo stands out in New York City’s competitive coffee market by offering high-quality beverages at a fraction of the usual price. Through strategic sourcing, a focus on volume, and a commitment to delivering an authentic Italian coffee experience, Salvo Lo Castro has created a successful model that defies the trend of rising coffee prices. As the cost of coffee continues to climb, Casa Salvo provides a refreshing alternative for New Yorkers looking for affordability without compromising quality.

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