Thirty degrees of hot, sticky Toronto August weather means it’s time for an icy cold drink. Non-alcoholic of course (it was a workday). As I walked into Starbucks, I could already taste the caramel. I proudly told the barista my choice, my fave summer drink, a tall iced caramel macchiato. Yummy! Caramel drizzled over soy milk with a shot of espresso is pure bliss. Then the dreamy balloon popped, very loudly, as if an annoying eight-year-old bully jumped on it with all their might.
The Coffeehouse Madness
Wait, pardon? $5.03? What do you mean? It wasn’t that expensive the last time. I only ordered a tall not a Grande.
Yes, it’s $5.03. That’s $3.85 for a tall plus 60 cents for soymilk.
Excuse me? Am I on another planet? Did you just say $5.03? I thought if I had your crazy rewards program and drank excessive amounts of coffee to get me to the gold level that you would pay for the soymilk.
No, sorry, we don’t do that anymore. The company found it was costing them too much money and they stopped it last year.
Last year!? Huh? I must have Alzheimer’s if it’s taken me a frickin’ year to figure out you’ve been ripping me off an extra 60 cents on these addictive drinks. I swear they put some kind of drug in the caramel drizzle. Does sugar qualify as a drug?
The Thursday Starbucks Epiphany
I had the type of epiphany that turns on like a light switch and says, you idiot, you are never paying that much for a stupid glass of soymilk, sugar and coffee again! I have now made the commitment not to pay $5.00 for a drink ever again.
You might be asking, why soy? Why are you paying 60 cents more in the first place when you don’t have to? Well, it’s a little thing called a dairy allergy. When I have milk (cow’s milk), cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, etc., I get this wonderful condition called sinusitis. It is not pretty. I usually sound like I have a cold and I’m so congested it’s like a phlegm party. Told you it was wonderful…or gross really.
Further Understanding of the Latte Factor
Many a time, I’ve said that I’d prefer not to nickel and dime myself or my budget to death over lattes and coffees. We do have to live a little don’t we. This latest epiphany, however, has made me realize that the $5 fancy lattes should be kept to a minimum. If I were to order one of these $5 drinks once a week as a treat during the summer, that is $15 – 20 a month. That’s almost my entire coffee budget of $25! Sadly, August’s coffee expenditure sits at $54, however, that is not just lattes. It’s the food that adds up too. The quick breakfast on the go while running to the office adds up.
In all reality, the latte factor is exactly that. The fancy, dreamy, to die for, sugar-laden coffees that you pay about $5 for. It’s not the $1.94 cup of Bold Brew coffee that the smart people buy. No need to drop the coffee, just drop the super expensive lattes and the extra food treats!
On to being a smart, savvy coffeehouse shopper
From now on, I’ll stick to what the smart, savvy shopper in me tells me I should do (not the impulsive, emotional one) – wait for a reward, then get the largest, most carameliest macchiato I can for free. And because a Triple Venti Caramel Macchiato is the equivalent of 20 ounces of pure bliss, I’ll overdose and not need another one until the next twelve coffees later. The rest of the time, I’ll get my $1.94 coffee and wait for my moment of bliss.
Another interesting budgetary option is to try out some independent coffeehouses as well. I happened to be in Bloor West Village this weekend and stopped in at Café Novo with a friend. Unbelievably, two iced teas (fancy brewed tea), cost $5. Not bad for two drinks that were 10 ounces each. Now that I am addicted to Tealish Sakura Cherry Rose Green Tea over ice, I might try it at home!
With a good dose of willpower, I think I’ll make it. The shock of spending $5 on a small latte is enough to make me quit cold turkey. I think my budget just breathed a sigh of relief.