Last weekend while wandering around Williams Sonoma I came across a particularly affable woman who was demo-ing a new little espresso machine for home use.  It uses tiny pods filled with coffee to brew one cup of espresso at a time.  It's nice because the pods are recyclable, the coffee inside them is sustainable, and, here's the real hook:  it's way cheaper than going out to Cosmos or Starbucks every day.

 She made me a cup, an Italian Roast I believe, so I could see how good it was. It was everything I could ask from a cup of espresso. Then she asked me what I spent per week on average buying coffee.  While I do buy a cup of coffee every day of the week, I don't get an especially fancy one.  No lattes or espresso macchiados.  Just brewed coffee with a shot of espresso.  A Black Hole or a Redeye, depending on the venue.

 Pretty sure I didn't need to purchase a $295 espresso machine that day, although it would look fantastic on my kitchen counter, I began to do some mental calculations as I left the store sipping my tasty sample.  You know the kind of thinking:

"Let's see, if I go 7 days a week and spend X number of dollars per day, over a year that adds up to…  Oh my gosh.  That really does add up..."

 Of course this is precisely what the affable (and highly caffeinated) sales woman knew I would do.  Calculate.  And since the special sale on the item was ending the next day, I'm fairly certain she was fairly certain I'd be back.

 When I got home, I did the math and realized that I could recoup the price of the espresso machine as well as the coffee to go in it fairly quickly. ( Alas. ) Thus I began a debate with myself, numbers running through my head, on the merits of heading back to the mall to buy one. 

 It's a funny thing about numbers.  They can be pretty convincing sometimes.  There is no doubt that if I spent $295 I could have hot, almost instant espresso every morning at home and in a short time would begin to see a reduction in my weekly coffee expenditure. 

 There were other considerations too. No wear and tear on the car.  No looking for a place to park.  No meter to feed. I'd probably even get to work earlier. 

It almost seemed there wasn't a  good argument against buying it.

 But then something struck me:  It really isn't all about numbers, convincing though they might at first seem.  I've met some really nice people over the years of my morning coffee purchasing, people who have become regular fixtures in my daily routine, faces I love to see. I know the "kids" who work there. Did saving money mean more to me than they did?  Why would I want a day without a trip to Cosmos or Starbucks? 

 In my kitchen there would be no one to say hello to, no one to chat with about sports or politics or weather,( or most recently, no one to discuss the end of the world with.) No one to look at in sympathy if the line was particularly slow.  There'd be no one handing me my coffee and sharing good news about a graduation, a new baby, a promotion or a trip to Paris to study art.

It would just be me and my fancy new espresso maker.  Yes, my money saving espresso maker.  But that would be it.  Me. And it.

 I don't know,  I think I'd rather drive to my favorite coffee place on my way to work, find a place to park, walk in, have someone smile and say,

Chris  !!  the way Sam, Coach, Diane and Carla used to say 

Norm !! when he walked into Cheers.  He was a regular at a place where everybody knew his name, and that's something you really can't put a dollar value on.   

 So before I put the very pretty and slick brochure for the espresso maker in the recycling bin,  I checked the list of features one last time.   It was a very pretty gadget. Yes, it would be quick and convenient.  Yes the coffee it brews is sustainable. And,yes, it would definitely save me money.  But there was one important feature it didn't have that my trips to Cosmos and Starbucks do have:

 People who know my order by heart, people who smile when they see me, and people who know who I am.

 And if I lost those brief but very important and meaningful moments of my day in an attempt to save money,  I'd know whatever numbers I used in my calculations were all wrong.

I'm very happy sticking with

the usual... 






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Tags: Chris Shea'', , Coffee'', Cosmos, Starbucks


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Comment by chris shea on June 8, 2011 at 11:34am
Thanks for your comments Karen and Phil.  I agree with both of you.  And again, I really like the experience of seeing faces that make you happy to see, and that, I believe, makes the coffee taste even better!
Comment by Phil Sluder on June 7, 2011 at 6:35pm
One more point Chris; I have asked the [single] guys in my office if we should invest in a coffee maker to save us all a few bucks. We discussed most of the points you outline, but the additional issue that comes up is the dishes. No one wants to clean anything (coffeemaker or cups), so their vote goes with the neighborhood coffee shop.
Comment by Karen Pearlman on June 7, 2011 at 12:39pm

Yep! It's also why it's nice to go out to dinner at a place where you are a "regular" (and among other "regulars") even if you can make the same food at home... Something very NOT regular about that!!


Great piece, Chris.

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