Why all the coffee haters?

I love going out for coffee. I think it’s a hell of good value! We have a regular place where the baristas are amazing. They know our names, and just how we take our coffee.

Why are PF writers always hating on a good cup of coffee from a nice shop? I partly blame David Bach and his Latte Factor. The idea being if we cut out all the small expenses, we can save a good bit for retirement. I prefer the opposite approach. I call it the House/Car factor. If I spend $700 less on my housing and $300 less on auto cost, then I have an extra $1000 a month to do with what I please*. The 8 oz 1 shot, half packet of sugar in the raw, wet cappuccino can happen a few times a week if I like. And I’m not going broke. Even if you add in Mr. Montana’s drink: double macchiato extra foam, 2 sugars in the raw added before the espresso. We come to a whopping total of $6 (that includes a $1 tip).

Here is how we Value Optimize this little luxury so it is a kick ass value:

  1. Coffee is a really cheap date. Instead of getting a babysitter for 5 kids (hello!) and going out to dinner which runs us about $60, we go out to coffee instead. We can time it during school hours/childcare hours, so it doesn’t cost any extra for childcare. I might add an amazing molasses cookie, which tacks on $1 to the bill. But it gets us out of the house, away from our to-do list. We can have a real, uninterrupted conversation. A few times a year we like to get away for a night or weekend. Those times are awesome too! But in between, we mostly go out for coffee or breakfast. We go out on a coffee or breakfast date about once a week: $28 a month.
  2. Coffee is affordable self-care. Sometimes I head to the coffee shop on my own. I do some reading or writing. At $3-$4 it’s a great value. Beings I cut my hair myself, don’t get any sort of spa treatments, hate buying clothes, really hate most forms of shopping; this is my “me” time. I do this 2-3 times a month, so it runs me about $9 a month. Such a good deal!
  3. Coffee is affordable friend time. This is where I usually meet up with friends. If the weather is nice, we will grab our drink and head out for a walk. But usually this is where I connect with friends (or over $1 tacos. Goodness I love tacos!) Here I don’t have to worry about the house being clean, or constant interruptions. (Wait? 5 little kids constantly interrupt? Well, yes. Yes they do!) We don’t have to plan a big event or outing to spend time together. For a few dollars, we can settle into an hour of great conversation as we catch up on each other’s lives. The 30’s are a time in life with so many pressing obligations. But by carving out just an hour and a couple bucks, I can invest in great friendships. I try to meet up with a friend about once a week: $12 a month.

I get why people slam it. If you are living above you means, not saving, buried in debt: adding $4 of caffeine to your lunch bill is crazy. Or you pick up a $5 drink on the way to work in order to cope with a disappointing job. But by finding ways to enjoy our coffee and have it add true value to our lives, it’s a great deal! The point isn’t to cut out all the small expenses, but to make sure they are truly adding value to your life.



What do you all think? Good value or waste of money?

*I get that you might not be able to spend $700 less on housing or $300 less on your cars. I used these numbers because we have looked at upgrading both and this is how much extra we would have to pay. We opted out for now, and are really loving having so much extra cash for coffee. Plus it enabled us to take a year off! The Montana dream home can wait. =)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

5 thoughts on “Why all the coffee haters?

  1. Ha, I’ve seen both sides of this! I was a barista in college, and we had 5x/week regulars who would get $4 drinks to-go every morning before going to minimum (or near-minimum) wage jobs. I remember one guy, for example, who worked at a grocery store and would get a 20 oz. mocha every day. That’s $1,000 a year — a crazy amount of money to spend on coffee if you’re earning only $15-30k. From that perspective, I get where the coffee naysayers are coming from; seemingly small daily expenses add up very quickly.

    You’re right, though, that the anti-Starbucks sentiments are pretty extreme in the PF world. We’re far from regulars, but we have no problem at all dropping five or ten dollars on a morning hanging out at a coffee shop. It’s great when we’re on the road and want a place to work with good wi-fi, or to have a comfortable spot to hang out when we meet up with friends or colleagues. It’s pretty rare, though, that we’ll go in just to take drinks to-go. I can brew better coffee at home (or even in our van) for a lot less money.

    • I agree that a comfy place to sit, and wi-fi alone are worth the $5-10 bucks. Add in a tasty drink and it seems like a great value. When we are traveling, I will even hit up McDonald’s for the wi-fi. =) Actually when we lived in Germany, the McCafe’s were rather nice. I am a total pastry lover, and theirs rarely disappointed. Why they have better McDonald’s than we do in the US is beyond me.

  2. You can at least partially thank David Bach (author of The Automatic Millionaire) for the coffee stigma. He coined the “Latte Factor” and observed that it’s not just the $1,000 per year, but the 5- and 6-figure compounding of that $1,000 per year that won’t be there in retirement.

    It’s all in context. Your money is yours to spend how you like, and as a coffee lover, I wouldn’t dare tell you otherwise. 🙂 But for my two cents your coffee habits are reasonable!

      • Ha, no problem. I’ve totally done that too! I actually really like a lot of his stuff. But that phrase gets misused a lot. It’s about spending money on things that really add value instead of just letting $10-$30 slip through your hands every day with out hardly noticing. We try to take things we love (like good coffee) and find ways for them to add a good value. Thanks for stopping by!

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