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Coffee is a staple. If it were purely luxury, why would we put so much time and energy into finding a better way to sip coffee in space, or creating a zero-gravity coffee maker.

For a staple, it certainly is expensive (that is, unless you make your own at home). For the millions who want to grab a cup on the go, the price for a single cup 'o joe can reach $5 or more. If gas cost as much, it would be $32 per gallon. Still, it's one of those luxuries some spend hundreds of dollars on unknowingly.

Here's the thing: how many of you actually know what you're ordering? Macchiato, americano, breve, cappuccino, mocha… there are so many. Or do you just give up an order a vanilla latte (the most boring drink ever conceived).

Want to find out? Check out this image; it breaks down the most common coffee constructions. I knew what some of them were, but I now understand why I don't prefer americanos, and why mochas are so sinfully delicious.

The point is, know what you're buying! Do you feel like a dork for dropping $4.25 on a marshmallow-flavored latte when you can get the same basic effect with a shot of espresso (or house brew, which is usually even cheaper), half-and-half, and a couple of dissolved marshmallows? I certainly do.

Whatever you decide on--and there are a lot of coffee brewing options--do it on purpose, instead of naively buying the equivalent of a gilded pencil.


 Photo taken from this photostream and used with permission of a Creative Commons license.

Sarah Higginbotham

Don't hate on americanos! :-) Seriously though, GREAT points, Jennie. I got into drinking americanos when I was on a SUPER slim budget right after college. I still wanted espresso, but couldn't afford the latte everyday, so I started asking for an "americano with room" (and I need like an inch of room) and adding the free milk available. Americanos are just a few cents more than normal coffee and one of the only things sub-$2.00 still. It's still preferable to plain ol' coffee for me. For the super thrifty who have no shame and can't live without their flavor fix, pick up a small size of powder creamer (don't spring for name brand CoffeeMate, but opt for a generic brand) in a yummy flavor like hazelnut and keep it in your purse. Just add to coffee or americano. (And yes, I've done that and yes, I've kept it in my purse before, and yes, I was mildly embarrassed) Luckily, now I just brew coffee in my office and limit myself to one store-bought americano a week. That probably saves me about $10 a week (inflated b/c if I go in the cafe, I have to get a muffin). Oh, and also, if you opt to make coffee at work, sprinkle a little cinnamon on the cheap canned coffee before clicking 'start' on the coffeemaker. Coffee tastes better and the office smells yummy.

Miss me, Jennie?

by Sarah Higginbotham on July 21, 2009

We all miss you! We're always finding ways to get a cheap caffeine fix around here. Personally, I haven't yet developed a taste for the powdered creamer, but we all either make our coffee here in the office, or get a house coffee to go and add our own flavors when we get back. The difficulty I've been having this summer is getting an iced house coffee--which is part of the reason I wanted to write this coffee blog. You think I could get an iced americano with room and add creamer for the same basic effect?

by jenniebartlemay on July 22, 2009

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