Thursday, May 1, 2008


Starbucks' sales are declining. Gee, we wonder why. Maybe because their regular customers are starting to do the math.The average Starbucks brew runs somewhere between $1.50 and $4.00 depending on what fancy shmancy stuff you add and what nonsensical Fritalian name they call it. For CHEAPIOSITY's purposes, let's meet in the middle at $3 for a cuppa joe (mixed/blended with some syrup or dairy product and maybe some ice.)

Let's say you indulge your premium priced caffeine habit three times a week. (Most addicts of our acquaintance go daily, but we're trying to lowball the numbers for you. We would never dream of exaggerating to make a point. Actually, that's exactly what we dream about. Well, that and locking our street clothes in our middle school gym locker and having to go to Algebra class in a towel ... but we digress.) Three cups runs you $9 a week. For you mathematically impaired, that comes to $36 a month, and a whopping $468 a year. That's no chump change. That's a lot of money no matter how you slice it. Or drink it.

(If you're imbibing daily, that's $15 a week, $60 a month, $720 a year. You see how this goes...If you're part of a couple, that little caffeine habit's running you a cool $1440 a year.) Conceivably, you could put that much money to better use for housing, groceries, clothes, gas. (Cripes. Our first Manhattan apartment was only $340 a month. Jealous? Don't be. We're a whole lot older than we look. Thank you, sunblock, Clairol, and low-watt bulbs.)

We know what you're thinking. "Hey, smartass Team CHEAPIOSITY, I like that good java. Stop doing math and provide us a suitable alternative."

We're here for you.

You already know you can buy Starbucks at the supermarket. It's good but it still costs between $8-10 for a 12 ounce package. That's pretty expensive. Look. We know that the Starbucks name is only part of the joy of consuming Starbucks coffee. You groove on the social scene. You like feeling part of the community. You like supporting a company that charges a lot for a little so they can treat their employees well. The anti-Walmart. Besides. you've grown accustomed to seeing that obnoxious guy with the laptop pretending he's working on his screenplay every day, treating the place like his office. And we know how much you enjoy those desperate housewives in their jogging suits power-walk-talking two miles every morning to order their two thousand calorie mocha-chocolata-yayas for the trek home.

We feel your pain and have come up with a (partial) solution.

(Frankly, you're on your own with the whole Starbucks gestalt: people-watching and the coffee as philanthropic Support Your Local Barista thing. We're all about your money. And your coffee.)

The secret to good coffee is the quality of the bean and freshness. Costco to the rescue! Costco now roasts its coffee in the stores and gives you a choice of beans from all over the world. When you buy your coffee in the supermarket, you don't know how long it's been sitting in the container and under what conditions it's been shipped and stored. That freshness affects the taste of the bean. At Costco you can buy 2.5 POUNDS of fresh roasted coffee for only $8.99. That's right. Fresh roasted coffee beans for $3.60 per pound! Buy the beans whole and grind it as you need it. Don't have a grinder? Buy one. You can find one for $15 or less at your local Target or Kmart or wherever. Store your coffee beans in a cool, dark, dry place in an airtight container. Use good-tasting water -- filtered, bottled or from the tap if you're lucky to have good-tasting municipal water. (Ours is Chunky style with extra additives. We wouldn't feed it to our cat, let alone brew premium coffee with it.) Finally, brew it yourself! Take your coffee to work in a thermos. Reheated brewed coffee doesn't taste as good. And you've got your Starbucks quality coffee right at your desk. You can even use a Starbucks thermos and impress people who care about such things.

You can even make your own espresso, cappuccino, lattes, schmattes, whatever. Really. You can. Be your own barista. Break that Starbucks habit now. A few years of brewing your own could save you LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. THOUSANDS.

Remember the real secrets to Starbucks (or whatever coffee shop you frequent) are bean quality, freshness and water.

Oh yeah. Just FYI. That guy in the corner with the perpetually unfinished screenplay is probably just surfing for porn. Non-Starbucks dependent "exercise" crew members can still walk their daily two miles with their friends, carrying a thermos and blazing new trails. Imagine all the styrofoam and plastic and cardboard (and calories) you'll save.

You're welcome.

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