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In defense of designer coffee

August 29th, 2008 at 12:47 am

I saw the SA post and just had to say a few things. Then again, I'm 21 so this doesn't hurt her point- still had to defend myself though (and my favorite corporate coffee).

1. Coffee is not that expensive. 3 cups of Starbucks a week costs me under $6. That's less than the cost of a single sandwich, and I always brought lunch to work anyway. What costs $4 is a mocha caramel chocolate chip honey chai latte with whip and stawberries sprinkles on top, or a "coffee" with some kind of syrup marketed with a sexy name like Cinnamon Dolce. But that's not designer coffee, that's designer ice cream.

2. I won't argue that $6/week adds up over the year ("That's $312 you could be saving!"). But think about it- for $312 you're getting 156 comfortably alert hours, many of which are spent with people you like. Put it in your "entertainment/luxuries" budget, cut out 12 meals out or one outfit and you've covered the cost.

3. If you want to save the environment and stop wasting cups, bring your own travel mug to the coffee shop. A lot of places give you a discount for that anyway.

4. Brewing your own coffee isn't that cheap if you buy the good-or-even-moderately-good stuff. I tried cutting out Starbucks and Coffee Bean for awhile, and I was spending about $8 every other week on ground coffee from the supermarket.

For people who don't love coffee this is probably irrelevant: just take the $312 and run.

15 Responses to “In defense of designer coffee”

  1. disneysteve Says:

    I think we've been brainwashed by Richard Bach and others to look at the "latte factor" and assume that everyone going to Starbucks is living above their means. Of course, that isn't true. We all have different priorities and we all choose to splurge or indulge in different ways. For some, it might be premium cable TV. For others, it might be an annual trip to Florida. And for lots, it may be that daily cup of premium coffee.

    I'm sure there are plenty here who have their finances in order and are funding their retirement and kids' education account and can still afford that little splurge. That's fine. Enjoy. I can lose more money in one visit to the casino than you are spending all year for Starbucks. As long as you are tending to more important needs first, I see nothing wrong with enjoying an affordable treat.

  2. mom-sense Says:


    I don't do Starbucks daily or even weekly. But I do like to go once a month or so. Sit, relax, enjoy the drink and the aroma of the place. And in the scheme of life, the $5 or $10 (if I go with DH) isn't going to make or break me. I agree with DisneySteve, if you don't abuse it and find it a true delight, indulge!

  3. clubneary Says:

    Although I am not a huge fan of Starbucks I do stop at Dunkin Donuts at least once a week and I pay for my coffee at the hospital cafeteria everyday I am working. I just can't get the coffee I make at home to taste as good as the coffee I get out. I am in no hurry to give up my coffee!

  4. toyguy1963 Says:

    I can see both sides of the argument. I think when people talk about the "Latte Factor" they are meaning
    people who buy the expensive coffee and spend in a lot of other foolish ways yet complain they have no money or go bankrupt. I rarely spend money on coffee myself but thats just cause I'm not a coffee drinker. I like it as a treat once in a blue moon. But I drink too much pop and I eat fast food a lot. So thats my personal Latte Factor. I'm a bit of a tightwad in some other areas and am in no way going bankrupt so I guess I'm ok.
    Just putting in my 2 cents worth.

  5. Broken Arrow Says:

    Interesting point!

    I think we've discussed the "splurge factor"(?) on numerous occasions. My weakness is sushi buffets. Big Grin In fact, I've read about a guy who goes out clubbing every weekend, and buys expensive alcohol while he's there. However, it actually does so within budget!

    I think the key here is to make sure your budget is under control, and to only splurge with what you've reasonably set aside.

    I will say I personally agree with the Latte Factor. However, I won't go so far as to say that it applies to everybody. If you're within budget, it doesn't matter what you splurge on (unless it's illegal). Smile

  6. swimgirl Says:

    I go to Starbuck's probably twice or three times a week. I usually meet a friend there and have a nice long chat. I don't spend my money at bars, don't gamble, drive an older car, live in a small house, buy in bulk, grow lots of vegetables to feed the family, use coupons, etc. Yes, I might spend $10 per week, but I can afford it, and I CHOOSE to do it.

    I think the issue is being aware of and comfortable with our choices. When money was really tight, I didn't go at all. But I can afford it now, and I enjoy it. I get a small mocha and feel like I'm getting a HUGE treat.

    We all have to do what works for us.

  7. gruntina Says:

    When I was single, I did go to Starbucks like 3 maybe 4 times a week! At that time, I had so many friends and was very social. It was cheaper for me to get together with my friends at Starbucks to chat than to go out to dinner and the like. It was more than just getting coffee, it was my social entertainment that I could do cheaply.

    Now I do not go at all but mainly because I love hanging out with the gentleman at home and second, we live out in the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains so there is no Starbucks for miles anyways.

  8. monkeymama Says:

    Yeah, though I agree with the latte factor concept, I think the coffee drinkers get a little beat up.

    & it's hard not to take offense when people start ganging up on your personal luxuries. Plenty of mine make the list (to beat up on), but then we put retirement first and don't really care to spend a lot of money on cars or vacation. Which means we have a lot of cash to put elsewhere... & if it was coffee, so be it.

  9. my english castle Says:

    We all love coffee, don't we?
    I bring my own cup to the coffee shop at the university, and they overfill it for $1.23 with the reusable cup discount. But I walk for a mile to avoid paying parking, resell on ebay and amazon, and do tons of other frugal things. We all have our little luxuries, and as a Swede from Minnesota, coffee is not a luxury, it's what keeps the plasma going.

  10. disneysteve Says:

    Just for the record, I don't drink coffee. Never have. Never will. I think it tastes horrid. Same for beer.

    So I wasn't defending coffee. I was defending affordable splurges. We save over 20% of our income. I don't think it much matters how the remainder gets spent.

  11. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Woohoo! I own stock in Starbucks! (which didn't do that great the last 6 months or so).

    But am I the only one who goes there for a house drip coffee???

    And the kid's hot chocolate (made with skim milk on request) is $1.50 (or less, might even be $1.10)!!!

    We go there on COLD mornings if the kids get ready 15 minutes in advance. YES it is a supreme bribe and happy incentive, and it works!!

  12. greengirl Says:

    i too, 100% agree with your post.
    however, i'm 21 as well so I guess you could say I am just defending myself, but I think I am allowed a say in this argument. Smile I used to buy maybe 5 or 6 takeaway coffees a week. I don't think I've ever bought a coffee at starbucks, I like the small cafes with really good, local coffee.
    I've cut down over the past year on buying coffee, and we have a pretty decent coffee machine at home, but I still buy coffee out about 3 times a week. I enjoy coffee. I love the smell and the taste, and the culture behind a single cup of coffee is phenomenal. (i don't actually get a buzz from it like most people though...Frown it doesn't work the same way in my body. )
    Some people might like soft-drink (i think you guys call it pop???). Some people like alcohol and cigarettes. Some people like expensive phones and gadgets, magazines, books etc. Coffee is a thing that that I enjoy, and that I am ok with spending $3.50 on per cup. I guess this is also a right time to mention another post I saw, about someone who drank a $2000 bottle of wine before they knew the price (sorry - i can't remember the poster right now!) and thoroughly enjoyed it, and then was actaully ok with drinking it after they found out the price. Life is an experience. You can't waste chances for experience because you're always holding out for some other experience. And if that experience is a delight in the taste and aroma of a good cup of coffee, for $3.50, why should that be demonised???

  13. baselle Says:

    Look, buying coffee drinks (as opposed to coffee) tends to be a marker for overboard spending.

    Its the coffee drink, and the lunch, and gym (these are mine), and the Friday night happy hour, and the dinners out, and the car, and the parking for the car, and the vacation, and the magazine, and the movie tix, and the PDA, and the MP3 player (bought every year), and the newspaper, and the sushi, and the smokes, and weekly groceries of which a third spoil, and the child requests, and the cable, and the cell phone...

    Taken all together, your paycheck's gone.

    Its not the coffee, its the "ands".

    We are preaching to the choir. Most of the gang reading here picks and chooses from the list above and saves; the ones that maintain everything get whacked. Its what you don't pick that helps you save.

    Oh yeah, house drip is my drink - usually the 12 ozer.

  14. cargirl86 Says:

    Yeah, what I have to say really has nothing to do what anyone else is saying ...

    ... but I only go to Starbucks from October to January for those pumpkin spice lattes and a couple of the other holiday drinks ... there are some things in life that you know God was definitely behind, and a good pumpkin spice latte is one of them.

  15. TryingHard Says:

    Life should be enjoyed and as a Starbucks coffee drinker, I agree with all who make it work within their budget to enjoy a nice cup of coffee. I know everyone here is trying to save, but once in a while it's ok to do something that really brings joy, peace, or whatever it may be to your life. I've cherished all the memories and frienships made from long chats at Starbucks. Sometimes you're not just paying for a service or an item, you gain much more having the experience.

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