It's not an addiction. It's love.
Just a week ago we could walk 5 minutes or less in any direction to find it. And it was great!
Today, we walked 15 minutes to a nice looking coffee shop. We've passed by it a few times, but decided that today was the day to give it a try.
The signage is "light-bulb style" with a brick wall lined with stained wood tables. We got a latte and a London fog in to-stay mugs and sat at the shared table in the middle of the shop.
There were signs that this was a mistake. When we got to the front counter the menu had no coffee on it. Peaking behind the counter was a full kitchen with a cook preparing a burger for another customer.
The verdict. Latte was not memorable, the foam was thick like a cappuccino. London Fog was decent but seemed like it was missing that special something that makes your lips smack and say "mmmmm"
There are still a few other places to try. So all hope is not lost yet. But we are already talking about getting an espresso machine at home.
Life is too short for bad coffee.
The options are to use our french press and get a machine to make steamed milk. A quick look on Amazon, I don't see any good options for standalone milk steamers to get the coveted "microfoam" necessary for latte art.
There is a Sunbeam espresso machine with milk steamer for $60. The Breville version is $190. The DeLonghi versions are $200 or $300. And the Cuisinart version is $240. Professional version run in excess of $8,000 and into the $20,000 range. Definitely not what we need for our purposes.
1 lb of coffee beans makes about 20 espressos and costs between $15-$30 depending on where you go. Putting the cost of coffee per cup at $0.75 to $1.50. The milk is about $0.25 per cup. Bringing the cost of a latte to $1 to $1.75 at home.
If we go with the $190 Breville and make coffee 100 times a year. The cost per cup would be $1.90 per cup in "machine" cost. Bringing our latte cost up to $2.90 to $3.65.
If we can get another 1, 2 or 3 years out of the machine before it needs to be replaced. Then the costs come down making it more and more worth it.
Cost per Latte after:
1 year: $2.90 to $3.65
2 years: $1.95 to $2.70
3 years: $1.63 to $2.38
4 years: $1.48 to $2.23
5 years: $1.38 to $2.13
This compares to spending $4.25 to $5 for a latte at a coffee shop.
Even with just 1 year of usage, you can already see savings. Sometimes it's worth the upfront cost to buy an appliance if you can justify using it often enough. Using an espresso machine every day or at least twice a week can already justify the cost after 1 year.
This works for other things in life as well.
Spending more on quality products that last longer saves on creating garbage in the world, increases your standard of living, and may end up being cheaper in the long run.
The important thing when using this decision strategy is to make sure you can justify using it enough. The biggest problem that can arise is when you justify an expensive purchase is that you may end up not using it as much as you need to bring the "per use" cost down.
A few years ago I was hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 12. I bought a $200 roasting pan when I should have just bought an aluminium tray at the dollar store. For the first year after that Thanksgiving, I used the roasting pan, maybe, twice. My wife was not pleased. Fortunately, we've since found a few more ways to use it more often. We've probably still only used it 15 times over the past 4 years. That's still a pretty high "per use" cost.
Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something change optimist, and personal finance guy. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.