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Inspirational Reads

The Economics of Coffee

January 5, 2007

So, with the new year comes the annual "I'm going to better myself" thoughts, right? First, for me, it was to finish my books this year (this month, optimally) and to shed some of the Huttian proportions to which I am blossoming (this isn't EXACTLY true, as I have dropped a pants size).

The next one on the list is to become a little closer to independently wealthy. The first step in that direction is to start saving money on a Scroogian level. Yeah, yeah, it's also to finish the book and publish, I know. Piss off. I'm making a point here.

The best way, as I figure it, is to look at where I'm currently hemorrhaging cashflow. What do I do everyday that I can cut out or modify in such a way that the money's not flowing out of my wallet, but going into it (and presumably sitting around for a better use...such as new video games, or postage to mail manuscripts). The answer: coffee.

Now, I'm a coffee addict. I'm surprised that when I get cut open, I don't squirt out French Roast. With cream. Every morning, on my trek into work, I stop off at the local Chick Fil-A and order one hellaciously delicious cup of dark roast coffee. This costs me $1.48 (down a penny in recent months...don't these people know that the "hidden cost of oil" is driving prices upward? C'mon, M. Cathy. Let's get with the program here. There's a lot of hydrocarbons in that styrofoam cup you hand out every morning). That doesn't seem overly expensive, especially when viewed in light of other chains that offer coffee. But, if I stop there 5 days a week on the daily commute, that's a cool $7.40 I spend in coffee alone (the hidden price of oil here is that I go about a mile-and-a-half out of my way to get to this nectar of the gods, but I'm not calculating that). Again, not much, as you can shell out more than that at other coffee joints for a cup of coffee and a slab of dry coffee cake to go with it. But, figure that I'm going there 52 weeks every year, and the number swells to $384.80!!!

But, it's not just the coffee. See, Chick-Fil-A lures one in with the promise of delicious coffee, but then they hook you on the sweet, savory chicken biscuits, chicken bagels, and other various breakfasty goodies they offer (finest breakfast of any fast food chain, anywhere, says I). Now, I will admit that I don't eat there everyday for breakfast, but there are times when I'll say "yeah, add on a biscuit or a bagel or hell, one of everything!", and so the total then comes out to be $6.67. The difference here, of course, is $5.19. At 3 times a week (let's say I'm an incredible hog), that's $15.57 and by extrapolating that out to a year's worth of Chick-Fil-A runs, that's $809.64, and then add in the coffee and it's $1194.44 (also figuring North Carolina tax rates).

And let's not stop there. Most weeks, I hit up Starbucks at least once or twice a week. Sometimes it's at my wife's work in the cafe, sometimes it's at Target, sometimes it's at a different Barnes & Noble. I admit it, I'm a coffee whore. I can't get a small (or whatever that is...tall?). No, it's Venti the whole way for my caffeine-swilling ass (just hook it to my veins already!). This is usually about a $10 deal (factoring in my wife's discount if I can schmooze my way into her good graces whilst at the store) more or less. I don't have the totals memorized, but we'll go with that. It might be a little low, but there are the rare weeks when I don't find a Starbucks cup in my hand. So, we'll give this an additional $520 in Starbucks. Gad-freaking-zooks. This brings my total to $1714.44, or roughly about five bucks less than what I make in a year (that's a joke...just like my salary ZING!!!).

What to do, what to do. I can't give up my coffee, but I could do a lot of things with this money, like pay for my daughter's school tuition or pay off one of those pesky credit cards or, better yet, rent a high-class whore. So, I've decided to brew my own. I have this wonderful coffee maker that starts up whenever I tell it to and makes absolutely wonderful coffee. I also have a grinder, so I can buy the whole bean coffee. Economics, here I come (my father, the bean counter, would be so proud of me).

If I brew my own, I save the $1715 (I liberally rounded up to four sig figs). But wait. That money doesn't just spring from the ground, and neither does the coffee. In order to make it, I have to have the raw materials, right? Well, Juan Valdez and his donkey partner don't show up every morning with a "Buenos dias, here's your coffee, senor, now please don't deport me", at least not around here. I have to purchase it somewhere, but I've already built in a bit of savings. By getting the whole bean, I save myself a few ducuts out of the gate. Also, I made mention of this earlier, but my wife gets a discount on items purchased in the cafe. So, that $8.99 for a bag of Starbucks whole bean coffee suddenly becomes $6.73 (with the appropriate taxes figured in), and a bag of this runs me about three weeks to a month. I'll use the 3 weeks, since I estimated on the high end for other things. This comes out to be $116.63. I refuse to calculate the cost of the water, since it's minimal when compared to the amount of water I use when, say, shitting, so that is a variable essentially equal to zero. $1 worth of coffee filters will last you until Armageddon, and I use up maybe three boxes of artificial sweetener (at $4.69 each => $14.07) and $1.99 for a bottle of creamer once every three weeks ($34.49). Take all of these together, and brewing my own, I spend $165.19.

Overall, then, my net gains is $1549.25. This might not be enough to force me to build a money vault out back where I can go and dive into my money and swim through it, but it's a step in the right direction. Couple that with the fewer calories I'm ingesting, and I'm not only making money, but I'm losing weight, too!

Now, if only this coffee thing could write my fucking books...

3 comments:

Chemgeek said...

Geez, I was worried for a second that you were going to swear off coffee. Now that's suspense.

I brew my own...usually. I bought a press pot. Oh, what a glorious alkaloid-laden colloidal suspension it makes. At work, my employer supplies coffee for everyone (a perk I take for granted). Of course, this coffee tastes like the stuff rejected by Burger King (IMO, BK coffee is the worst EVER!). But, it's free.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Oh no. OOOOOOHHHHHH no. Woe is the day that I swear off that sweet, glorious nectar of the gods!

I've tried the coffee from a press pot. It's good, but I kept getting grainy bits caught in my teeth, so I opt for the age-old drip pot. It's effective and brews me up something that jolts me into the chemistry mood every morning.

I agree with the BK call. My employer supplies the coffee, as well, but at the main site, it used to be 25 cents a cup (pretty steep for a little styrofoam cup o' joe), but at the exilius location, it's free. At least, I think it is. It's not great, but it's also not BK swill.

Ψ*Ψ said...

I'm addicted as well. I've been meaning to get a press pot in hopes that the coffee will be a little stronger than what comes off the drip. Grounds don't bother me. Ever had Arabic (Turkish, maybe? I might be remembering wrong) coffee?