How many bottles of Diet Coke did you guzzle last year? (Or wine, if that’s your preference?) How many cigarettes did you smoke? How many episodes of Breaking Bad did you binge watch before Netflix suspended your account? We all have our vices, right?
What about coffee? Are you one of the 69 million Americans who drinks 3 cups/day? Coffee is the most widely used stimulant in the world. And I am a java addict. But it’s not coffee I’m addicted to. It’s Starbucks. Starbucks’ espresso beverages, to be exact.
For the last several years, every morning, I’ve woken up just to hit the snooze button. When I know it’s time to stop hitting the snooze button, I motivate myself to get out of bed, by conjuring up whatever concoction I’m going to order at Starbucks to enjoy on my morning commute.
I order iced beverages at Starbs. Something with espresso and milk. Well, non-dairy milk… coconut or almond. Always cold and always with extra ice, so that it’ll last me through the morning. Sometimes I order a breakfast sandwich. Or a Starbucks Marshmallow Dream Bar. (Which is a Rice Krispies treat in a fancy disguise, only not as good, and twice as expensive.)
It occurred to me (and my husband) a couple years ago that this habit of mine is pricey. Not just a little pricey, but pretty darn out of control. So I made a mistake.
I took matters into my own hands (OK, they were already in my own hands.) And I did something responsible. I tallied the total of all of the beverages I’ve purchased in the past year on my Starbucks Gold Card (a very elite status that only frequent card users achieve, I’ve heard). Brace yourselves, friends. Are you ready? You know what that grand total was? My annual Starbucks morning run grand total? $1,900. Nineteen hundred bucks.
Do you have any idea what you can buy for $1,900? You could buy a 50″ HD TV. You could buy 1,900 items from The Dollar Store. Or, you could purchase a luxurious 2001 Ivory-and-rust colored Buick Century with velour bench seats. Wanna know how I know this? Because a few years back–I kid you not–I sold my beloved 2001 ivory-and-rust colored Buick Century. For exactly $1,900. The very same amount I spent at Starbucks that year.
The irony is not lost on me here. This is a sign from the Heavens above that my Starbucks spending is out of control. By the way, I am well aware at how silly this is, and how it is the very definition of “First World Problem.” But Starbucks is tough to give up. It has two psychological factors working against us.
- Caffeine is addictive, and Starbucks’ caffeinated beverages have been scientifically proven to have more caffeine, and be more addictive, than your regular Folgers.
- There is the “morning routine” factor. For me, I think this is the hardest part. Starbucks has been engrained in my morning routine for well over five years. It’s tough to change a routine like that.
I like walking into my local Starbucks, where everybody knows my name (cue the Cheers theme song). I like hearing “Morning, Mandi!” and I like how they know my favorite orders and ask “Which one are you getting today?” (Sometimes it’s an iced almond-milk latte, and sometimes it’s an iced grande coconut-milk latte, two pumps toffee nut, two pumps sugar-free vanilla, with extra ice in a venti cup.) I loved how, the morning of my wedding, I went and instead of “Mandi,” They took out the sharpie and wrote “Bride” surrounded by little hearts on the plastic cup.
But after I tallied my annual Starbucks purchases last year and it truly hit me that I dropped nearly $2,000 on coffee beans and faux milk, I decided to make a conscious effort to quit my Starbucks addiction.
If you’re starting to get to know me, then you know I’m a plotter and a researcher. So, from there, I spent hours–days, really–researching the perfect latte machine to brew my own beverages at home. I finally found one–hundreds of Amazon reviews later–and bought myself a Bosch Tassimo T47 Single-Cup Home Brewing System, with which to make my morning iced lattes. And I love it. It works like a charm.
My Tassimo doesn’t take up a lot of space in the kitchen. It’s sleek and black, and it makes a truly delicious shot of espresso. I even adore how it layers the espresso and milk and foam in the glass, so that the delicate swirls make a beautiful design. So, for a few blissful, money-saving weeks, I used my Tassimo every morning.
But the desire for Starbucks started slowly creeping its way back into my life. I’d convince myself that making a latte in the morning takes too much time and effort. So eventually, I started driving a mile out of my way again, every morning, to my local Starbucks, where everyone knows my name. (And yes, this takes more time, in total, than it does to brew my own latte at home.)
So, I’d say to myself “This delicious Starbuc
ks beverage is an investment in your productivity today, and ultimately your future, so it’s definitely worth the $4.87 you just paid for hot bean water and cold milk, on ice.”
This story does not have a happy ending. But it’s not so grim, either. I wish I could tell you that I quickly realized the error of my ways, and that I quit for good. But that’s not the truth. The truth is that I get Starbucks maybe every other day now. Certainly not 7 days a week like before. And I’m OK with that.
I don’t smoke. I rarely drink alcohol, and when I do, it’s a mediocre bottle of wine. I don’t eat fast food, and I don’t drink soda. I’m not (quite) a shopaholic. So maybe, just maybe, it’s OK to have this one vice. A few times a week.
Perhaps moving forward, you can help me find my strength — and keep me in check when you see me, iced latte in hand.