Coffee

(Sweet, sweet coffee)
 

I cannot do without coffee. In the “Year of Water”**, hereafter to be known as the “Quarter Year of Water” because that was how long I lasted, I drank nothing but water and milk. I suffered actual psychological trauma. Oh, exaggerating, you say? ‘Fraid not.

Long after my body had withdrawn from the caffeine, actual sadness was created by my missing my morning cup of coffee. I tried to substitute. When I crumbled and let myself have milk because my calcium was down, I tried hot chocolate in the morning. It was sort of like having sparkling grape juice on New Year’s Eve. Not bad, but a pale shadow of the real thing. 

Coffee cannot go. I love coffee. I need coffee. Water’s nice and has a steady job and everything, but in the QYoW, I yearned for an affair with coffee. Yearned. Days without coffee were like a prison sentence. There are still hatch marks on my wall. Ok, that’s a lie, but I did count the final days of the quarter year like an inmate. I won’t label that first cup of coffee as the absolute best I have ever had, but I may have wept a few grateful tears of joy. Don’t judge.

So, coffee must be in the budget. Good coffee. Not that mangy freeze-dried imposter of coffee. The real deal. Here’s how you spend @ $3.50 a week on coffee –

GROUNDS

Starbucks coffee at an actual Starbucks is cheaper than the kind they sell in the grocery store. 1/4 lb of Pike’s Place will run about $2.50. I buy it each week. This seems like a hassle, but it’s really not if you live in an urban area. Spit. You’ll hit a Starbucks. There are few kinds in the $10 range. The best price I see at the grocery store when it goes on sale is $7.99, but those packages are only 12 ounces. So works out to be about the same.  If I am gifted some or need to buy more than 1/4 lb at a crack, I stash the surplus in the freezer in an airtight, opaque container.  Air, light, moisture, and heat are the enemies of coffee.   And yes, I know, it is better if you grind your own.  Since I only keep mine around a very short time, I let the good people at starbucks do that for me.  I try to go on off-times, when there’s not a line out the door.  Nobody likes that person.  “Um, excuse me, can you put everyone’s caffeine fix and work day on hold to put my measly quarter pound in the grinder? Thanks.”

RATIO

The ratio of water to coffee should be 2 Tbsp to 6-8 ounces of water. 2 Tbsp is about 1/2 ounce. Maybe a little less. I can get 8 of those a week out of a 1/4 lb. Sometimes, I have to have another cup, so I make 2, and put what I don’t use in a designated container in the fridge. At the end of the week, if I have run out of coffee to brew, I can still do iced coffee, which has its own charms.  

1 cup of coffee – 0.34

CREAM

I don’t buy half and half. It’s pretty much a one trick pony. I buy whipping cream or heavy whipping cream. It’s the fat that cuts the bitterness, so I can use a lot less cream than half and half. Plus, creams have extremely long shelf lives because of their hyper-pasteurization. It’s possible to get 3-4 weeks out of them. But I don’t, because I can use them for so many things. On top of all that, they have a great mouth feel. 

Cream is a lil’ pricey, it’s true. Heavy more than plain ol’ whipping and organic cream more than non-organic. I invest because I use it for tons of things. Just paid $3.39 for 32 Tbsp of Organic Heavy at Whole Foods (Hearafter known simply as WF) That’s $0.12 a tbsp. About 1/2 of that is what you need for your coffee each morning. $0.06 per cup equals $0.48 at the end of the week. So even organic heavy cream for coffee isn’t that expensive. 

1 1/2 tsp of organic heavy cream – 0.07

SUGAR

Sugar is one of those items I find that I can buy generic and it makes little difference at all. Except for the price tag. I can easily get it for about 5 cents an ounce and possibly less. 2 tsp daily are in the neighborhood of $0.05 a week. 

2 tsp sugar – .01

TOTAL

Weekly starbucks coffee with organic cream and sugar-$3.33

$0.42 a cup

With just sugar, it’s $2.80 a week, if you take it black, $2.75

  Paper filters are @ $0.02 a crack

Calories 55 Fat 3 Protein 0 – with heavy cream and sugar
Calories 30 Fat 0 Protein 0 – with sugar
Calories 0 Fat 0 Protein 0 – black

Even if I were to drink coffee 3-4 times a day, that will run $1.26-1.68 a day for 16-24 ounces. Less than an 8 ounce short cup at Starbucks. And really, if I start having that much caffeine every day (not just the bad days), that’s when I start to consider some energy alternatives. Say exercise or sleep? Caffeine creates a fight or flight response in the system. I feel I have to ask myself, would I get in 4 fights a day?  Ok, it’s happened, but only when I was being an epic jerkface.

Studies suggest 1 cup of coffee a day may even be beneficial. More than that, not so much. I have found no studies conducted on 1 fight a day versus 4, but if you want to test that out and get back to me…better you than me. I fight like a girl. 

**The idea of the QYOW was to give up every beverage but water for a year to see if all the aspartame-laden diet coke, and caffeine-laden coffee, and sugary drinks and delicious delicious wine were affecting my mood and my waistline. It turns out that they weren’t, noticeably.
Without all that, I still woke up tired. I was, in fact, crankier. I didn’t lose a significant amount of weight. I couldn’t manage to get enough calcium without milk. It didn’t automatically force me to drink enough water just because there wasn’t anything else. The upshoot of the experiment? I did stop drinking diet coke because of how confusing aspartame is to the body, more on that later perhaps, but now I just drink my cup of coffee in the morning, my glass of wine with dinner, and water for everything else. I look at all other beverages like I look at candy bars. They’re delicious, but a waste of calories. I need that room in my belly for coffee and wine.

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