Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Coffee Talk

Not ordinary coffee, but those tasty espresso drinks. On a tough day at work-- okay, any day at work!-- they're hard to resist.

But a Starbucks habit is pricey. And trying to ignore temptation often leads to that vicious cycle: deny yourself --> feel deprived --> give in and buy something to feel better/because "I've earned it, I've been so good" --> feel guilty about it --> deny yourself. In the end, you're still spending more money than you planned, and there's all that guilt and deprivation floating around.

My solution? Powdered mixes. I keep a tin on my desk at work pretty much constantly. A $4 tin makes 20 cups-- that's $0.20 a day. I'm no coffee connoisseur, but I think mocha-from-a-mix is delicious. And for the same price as just one fancy coffeehouse drink, I can enjoy a whole month's worth. I am the antithesis of a morning person, but knowing I get to sit down with a cup of mocha gives me at least a little something to smile about as I start my day. And the temptation to go hunting for a Starbucks for a little pick-me-up becomes almost nonexistent.

When I'm on the road, or otherwise away from the office, I choose convenience store or gas station cappuccinos-- yes, the kind from the machine! They're obviously cheaper than Starbucks. (At the White Hen near me, you can fill up your travel mug for $1.) Plus, I kind of like trying the wacky flavors they come up with. Butterfinger? Mint Oreo? Pumpkin?

And when I do treat myself to an all-out espresso drink, I look for a local coffeeshop, and I always pick Dunkin' Donuts over Starbucks. Why? Well, not only is it a little cheaper, but all Dunkin' Donuts espresso drinks are made with fair trade coffee. (At Starbucks, you can sometimes get them to brew a pot of fair trade coffee by special request, so try it. But sometimes they'll refuse, and they never do it as a default. And I don't think it's possible to get fair trade espresso drinks there.)

Certified fair trade coffee ensures that coffee farmers are paid enough for their coffee beans to support their families. The roaster/buyer must also extend credit to the farmers, and enter into long-term contracts to provide stability. And most of the middlemen are cut out, in favor of developing democratically-run farmer cooperatives. As a result, coffee farmers have not only more income but more control over their lives.

Now I'm getting all verklempt
. Talk amongst yourselves. Here, I'll give you a topic: How do your coffee and espresso drink choices incorporate your frugality and/or your values? Discuss!


Tiredbuthappy said...

I'm all about local coffeeshops over chain stores. One of my two regular local haunts has fair trade signs up everywhere, and a little box where you can donate your change to coffee-farming families. The coffee I drink at home is also fair trade, bought from my local food co-op.

But I gotta tell you, even tho real coffee conoisseurs pooh-pooh "Charbucks" burned coffee, I do love Starbucks now and again.

Jenn said...

Probably even cheaper than the canned mocha (if you office has a communal coffee pot) Buy a big tub of hot cocoa mix and just add a scoop to your cup before you add the regular coffee. . .

LeighAnn said...

Well, you motivated me. I wonder if I can resist.....hum.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Great ideas, and great encouragement. I've been struggling with resisting. I didn't know about Dunkin Donuts and free trade coffee, either, so thanks!

Juut said...

At my work coffee, cappucino, espresso, tea, hot chocolat, etc. is for free. It's from a machine so but free. Allthough the tea is horrible but the machine provides also hot water so I take teabags from home with me to make decent cup of tea.

I like the fair trade option. Where I used to work they allways had Fair trade coffee and tea. For free, most companies in the Netherlands provide free coffee and tea for their employees.

Mom2fur said...

Another way to make really good coffee for yourself is to use one of the flavored creamers available. My own favorite is the liquid form of French Vanilla, from either Cremora or International Delight. Especially when it's on sale, LOL!
IMHO, Starbucks doesn't taste all that good, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I make the coffee at home but add a fat free flavoring like, caramel, hazelnut, chocolate, vanilia. I can get the flavoring for very little money and a little goes a long way. I have so many different flavors now, I think I bought the last one last summer. Still has a long way to go and the coffee is fresh every morning.