Tuesday, October 21, 2008

poverty post: a former barista cuts back

A long time ago, when we first moved to Oregon, we were both unemployed for awhile. We'd built a small but thriving graphics business in San Francisco, but made the move to Portland in order to raise our kids in a somewhat kinder, gentler environment. I think we may have overestimated how easy it would be to resurrect our business in a new town, in a new state where nobody knew us...We were both unemployed for the better part of a year before I finally found a job.

This was at the very beginning of the great espresso explosion here in the Northwest, and Starbucks had just begun its march to take over the world. They offered health care, vacation benefits and flexible hours, but ultimately it was the offer of a free pound of coffee per week, and all the caffeine you could drink that sold me on the place.

Personally, I preferred Peet's french roast, but you have to admit that free is a very good price.
It was a very happy place to work, even though the early morning shift could get ugly if we didn't keep the lines moving quickly. All in all though, even the nastiest customers tended to sigh and give a contented little smile after that first sip of their double-tall-nonfat-extra whip-mocha.

I worked there for a year or so, until I started getting freelance work again, but remained a loyal customer even when coffee prices went through the roof.

I'm sure right about now you're wondering where the heck this post is going...apart from wandering aimlessly down memory lane, that is. I'll get to it.

Fast forward a few years, to 2008. Walking the dogs up to our local Starbucks a couple of times a week to sit outside and sip some coffee has been a small luxury we've allowed ourselves for awhile. Lately though, times have been tough. Dave's only recently gone back to work part time after being sidelined by a job-related shoulder injury for the better part of a year, and the recession has hit freelance artists like me pretty hard. So it's time to cut back. We haven't been to Starbucks in a couple of weeks, and I'm going through serious mocha withdrawal at the moment.
So here's how I've been calming the cravings since I can't afford the good stuff at the moment.

Step one: Put 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 spoonfuls of hot cocoa mix in a cup.

Step two: Pour in hot coffee (or in my case, make a cup, brewing right into the cup)

Step three: stir thoroughly, then pour in half and half, and stir again.

Step four: take a sip, smile contentedly, and pat yourself on the back. You've just easily saved yourself about $2.50, and you didn't have to leave the house!


BOSSY said...

Ah-ha! It's like that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial from Bossy's childhood:

"You got Hot Cocoa in my coffee!"

"Yeah, well you got coffee in my hot cocoa!"

(both together) "Mmm, it's delicious!"

Mercedes said...

A ghetto Mocha! I only drink mochas this way, I never thought to order them. At least it's not a ghetto mimosa:

Ingredients: 40.0 oz. Beer
20.0 oz. Orange juice

Directions: Drink 40 oz. bottle until top of label. Add orange juice until bottle is filled. Replace cap, gently invert bottle to mix. Enjoy! Substitute malt liquor for beer to get true ghetto feel.

cactus petunia said...

Eeew! Now that's just NASTY! Although on second thought, after 20 oz. of malt liquor, I probably wouldn't even notice it was nasty.

My Name is Cat said...

Starbucks is being hit hard with Bossy's Poverty Party. I hope they survive.

g said...

I lived in Seattle when Starbuck's was just one store on Capitol Hill. So weird to remember.

Suz @ Alive in Wonderland said...

My husband and I lived in San Francisco and moved to Orange COunty to start a family. I loved the City, but when it was time to settle down we wanted something else.
Great tip on the coffee. I only like Starbucks' mochas and I adore Peet's French Roast, but my heart belongs to Coffee Bean.