20070611

Caffeine over coffee: a comparison of real and hidden costs

This quote appeared in Consumerist's best posts of last week: "And, I'm sorry, I'm really serious about this last one: make your own coffee."

Amateur.

I throw the gauntlet down. I say: Stop drinking your daily coffee and start ingesting only that part of coffee that you need. You own the Tshirt with the molecule on it, junkie, so don't pretend you don't know right away what I'm talking about.

Caffeine tablets cost in the neighborhood of $5 for a pack of 60 100-mg tabs (source: one drugstore's website.) Reports vary, but 100mg is about what you're getting in one cup. If you go this route, a cup of coffee costs less than the $2.09 you'd shell out at Starblechs and starts being ($5.00 / 60 = $0.0833 - eight cents? a venti's worth of caffeine costs a quarter?)

So now you can buy that much caffeine with the dirty pennies you can dig out of your desk drawer. Don't even buy No-Doz. The off-brands are cheaper.

Making your own coffee seems like a great cheap solution to begin with. And caffeine tablets seem like they lack the virtue you appreciate in the drink. But if you're on a budget, you might have to invest in new equipment, and you're going to be making yourself *not* buy the expensive stuff that you like; you're going to feel like you have to buy cheaper stuff that you despise. So how much worse is swallowing a tiny bitter pill?

There are hidden costs to the daily cup, too - I didn't see them until I downsized to just the drug itself:

- No more funky breath. I have some serious mouth-stank about an hour after drinking any kind of coffee. I have to brush, floss, brush my tongue and all up in "my situation" (thanks, P.Diddy) in order to not ward away people at meetings. So, I'm saving 5 minutes on the clean-up - plus all the gum or mints that I usually eat.

- No more bleaching my teeth all the time. One more product I don't have to use as much.

- No more upset stomach. I drank a coffee a day, sometimes two, for at least ten years, so I had forgotten about all the acid I was pouring in there. Now that I'm off it, everything still works like it used to, just with less oogy tummy.

So give it up already! You can still still be awake and hyped up all day! You can still go to your indie coffeehouse and chat up that cute barista! You can still go hang out with your friends! Just get juice or a pastry instead (I *do* draw the line at eating sugar packets, okay) and slip yourself a little caff tab on the sly. And enjoy the sanity of living your life a tiny bit more simply.

Me, I've started only enjoying really good coffee during a long, slow Sunday, over a big breakfast that lasts all day and a newspaper made from actual newsprint (cost: two tall drips.) Now THAT is living.