December Nineteenth – the cost of coffee (or how I kept my New Year’s resolution)

How many cups of coffee did I buy in 2014?

Back in January I made a New Year’s resolution “to try and stop buying takeaway coffee”.

Although I didn’t explicitly say so at the time, I was thinking about work days rather than weekends/annual leave and I was specifically thinking about takeaway coffees rather than those drunk in cafés. It was the thoughtless, habitual coffees I was buying at the train station that I wanted to reduce or cut out. This was partly to save money, partly to reduce non-recyclable waste and partly to cut down on stress (queuing for coffee in the morning versus getting to the platform on time).

So how did I do?

There were 245 possible working days this year, counting till today. Taking off 16 days of annual leave and 3 sick days, we are left with 226 days. My record keeping was not perfect, but I reckon I’ve had 231 coffees on working days this year. Some days were double coffee days!

Of those 231 coffees, I made 155 myself at the office using my one-cup French press. The remaining 76 coffees were purchased but of those at least 15 were to drink in cafés and so created no non-recyclable waste. I’m only counting working days, so these are made up of breakfast dates with my husband and meetings in cafés.

That leaves 61 takeaway coffees out of the 231 I drank this year. Previously I would probably have bought nearly all of them as takeaways since the breakfast date innovation was also new this year. So I think I definitely succeeded in my resolution. Hurrah!

How much did I save?

Saving money wasn’t the sole purpose of the resolution and I didn’t keep track of how much ground coffee and milk I bought.

However I can make some estimates. A standard 227g bag of ground coffee makes approximately 25 cups (I use a heaped dessert spoon full per one-cup pot of coffee) and costs between £2 and £4. I received two bags of coffee as Christmas gifts, including in Secret Santa and probably bought four bags at a cost of between £8 and £16. So let’s say £12 for the ground coffee. Milk costs 49p per pint and I probably bought approximately 40 pints this year (I didn’t keep track) so that’s another £9.80. That means the total cost of my raw ingredients was, at a very rough estimate, £21.80 or about 14p per cup. I’m not counting water and electricity costs because I was at the office.

Takeaway coffee costs from 99p per cup (Prêt à Manger filter coffee) up to a ridiculous amount if you have a giant fancy mocha with syrups and gold bullion sprinkles. I’m going to base calculations on a regular Americano from Caffè Nero at £2 per cup.

The 155 coffees I made myself therefore prevented me spending £288.20 (155 x £2 – £21.80). To look at it another way this year I spent approximately £122 (61 x £2) on takeaway coffees on work days as opposed to potentially £462 (231 x £2) if I had bought all of the coffees I drank – a difference of £340.

Of course none of these calculations are perfect since I wasn’t previously a particularly loyal customer of any one coffee shop. Still, it’s good to know I have saved a big chunk of change for a small amount of effort. I’ll definitely be continuing next year!

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