Friday, December 16, 2011

Extravagant Delicious Coffee Habit.

If I could somehow see the total amount of money I've ever spent on coffee, I'd probably slap myself.

Over the years I have probably spent an unthinkable amount of cash on the caffeinated concoction: filtered, latte, flavoured, chai, full-fat, no-fat, tall, short, big, small, with sprinkles, whipped cream and plain.

When I lived in London, I would buy a coffee almost every morning on my way to work. When we moved to Canada I didn't walk past a coffee shop anymore and my coffee spending went down. Then we had kids and I was buying coffee often again since drive-through coffee places were so convenient for driving around with a sleeping baby in the back. Then it was time to re-evaluate my spending habits and the coffee budget was axed. Mostly. I was horrified when I worked out how much I was spending on coffee each year.

Now every morning I make myself a coffee at home. I love coffee. I love the smell of it, the sound of it brewing and dripping into the pot in the kitchen, the sound of milk steaming, the way the cream swirls and blends in the mug, the first sip when it's still steaming hot; the slight but welcome change in my alertness.

So I save money by making it at home, but once or twice a week when I'm out and there happens to be an espresso machine beckoning me, I buy coffee.

But it's becoming harder and harder to justify. Two medium-sized lattes a week costs in the region of $8. That's $32 a month and - wait for it -$384 a year. $384. And that's just two coffees a week.

You know what $384 could buy? Christmas presents. A new wool coat. A couple of massages. A night away with my husband. Several restaurant dinners. Half of one seat to England to visit my family. A bunch of new music. A bunch of new books. A lot of lovely stationery. A painting or print for my wall. New equipment for my business. Bed sheets. A lot of hats. A jewel-encrusted collar for my dog.

Want to know more calculations?

Three lattes a week is $48 per month, $576 per year.
Four lattes a week - $64 per month, $768 per year.
Five lattes a week - $80 per month, $960. That's almost $1000 in one year. Yikes.

I won't dare try to work out how much I spent on coffee seven years ago - I'd probably kick myself in the shin if I found out.

So, knowing this - knowing my money could be spent on something more meaningful than a fleeting moment of pleasure - why do I still spend money on coffee shop coffee?

Because there's something about buying a cup of coffee in a coffee shop. It's not just a cup of coffee. (I should be a marketing person for a coffee company.) It's a whole coffee-buying experience. (I may have had too much coffee this morning.) An indulgence. It's something that's just for me, that lets me breathe and relax for five minutes. It's the atmosphere created by the coffee shop with their music and lighting and comfy chairs. It's the sound of the espresso machine whistling and chugging and the collective buzz of waiting in line for coffee. It's the pretty red cup with snowflakes filled with warm liquid soon to be in my hands.

It's the taste of a hot drink that someone else has prepared. And it is so comforting.

My theory that coffee someone else has prepared tastes better is the same as my sandwich theory. Have you ever noticed how a sandwich prepared by someone else tastes better than one you have prepared? It's true! Or maybe it's just me.

But in the end, with everything stripped away, it is still just a cup of coffee, handed to me in a paper cup in exchange for a little bit too much money.

And in the end, yes, I am still going to part with my money for it. Perhaps just a little less often next year.

File under "new year's resolutions that look good on paper".

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Actuary Mom said...

I have a terrible coffee habit too. To make matters worse, now i am a complete coffee snob, and can only have starbucks. When I am at a random restaurant and order a coffee, I am always disappointed.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

Your coffee habit is my diet soda habit. I wish I could cut back, but the reality of it is that I can't and won't. Ok, I could, but I won't.

Carmen said...

I've reached the same conclusion as you. I know how much I spend, and it is a tad ridiculous, but it is worth that much for my sanity most days :)