Surviving an Espresso Addiction during the
Andrew J. Warren
March 15, 2009
I am an unabashed fan of coffee. A cup of flavorful
brew in the morning helps me get going and stay
active throughout my day at the office, and
a cup at night relaxes me when I spend time
with friends or just watch television with my
For the past few years, I've become hooked on
the rich roasted flavor of espresso. I simply
must have a latte every morning, and I like
to drink an espresso after work before spending
a relaxing evening at home.
It wasn't long before I realized that I was
spending enormous amounts of money at both my
favorite cafe, Giovanni's, and at Starbucks.
My main problem is that I live just a few blocks
from my office in Manhattan, and Giovanni's
is located right between the two, so it's difficult
not to stop in and pick up a latte. And of course,
in New York City, Starbucks are everywhere.
So one quiet evening, after looking over our
increasing credit card bills and trying to locate
some budget cuts, Kate finally tallied all of
the money I'd spent at the cafe and Starbucks.
She doesn't understand my espresso addiction,
so she freaked. "You're spending over 2 grand
every year on your coffee!"
We came to discover
that my two drinks of coffee every day was costing
me around $2,300 per year - a figure which did
not even include other coffee shop trips and
food purchases at the cafes.
That's how much
my love for espresso was costing me!
I was shocked.
Well, I realized right then and there that I
could no longer afford to spend that much money.
I had promised Kate that we would spend a month
in Europe, and since I probably wouldn't be
getting the raise I imagined I would that year
- times were getting tough, after all - I knew
I had to cut back on something.
I initially decided to just curtail my trips
to the cafe. That just didn't seem to work,
I even tried some of the cheaper coffee,
but it just wasn't tasty enough.
So one day
I went into Giovanni's and, laden with guilt,
purchased a latte. As I sat there and watched
the barista, a bored-looking student form NYU,
standing around waiting for another shot of
espresso to finish brewing, I realized that
I could do what he was doing just as easily
in my own home. I'd probably enjoy it more,
Then I remembered that Bill, a friend
of mine from the office, had an espresso machine
in his kitchen, which he used constantly.
right then and there, I decided that was what
I need. I was going to invest in an espresso
machine of my own.
First, I did some research on the internet
and spoke with some friends, who also enjoy
espresso, about which machine to purchase. I
read lots of articles on the internet and looked
for something that I thought would be affordable
and easy to use, but would also be up to my
high standards of quality.
Ultimately, I chose
the same espresso machine Bill had purchased
- a highly praised Italian machine I found on
I was extremely excited the day that it arrived!
After quickly installing and priming the machine
in my kitchen, I brewed my first latte.
day, it was the best coffee I've ever had! Not
only was it delicious, but the process of brewing
the coffee and then sipping my own latte in
the comfort of my warm, quiet house was very
Since then, I've experimented with
many different kinds of beans and ways of serving
espresso; I started with cappuccino, cafe latte,
and cafe macchiato. Trying all these new drinks,
and becoming invested in the process of brewing
and then serving the espresso, was interesting
I've since decided that I still prefer
cafe latte to other espresso drinks, but I still
enjoy some variation now and then.
The decision to purchase an espresso machine
nearly two years ago was a stroke of genius.
I've saved a ton of money! The amount I invested
in the Lelit 42 semi-automatic machine, as well
as the annual bean purchases and other associated
costs, has already paid off when compared with
what I used to spend at shops and cafes.
bought two lattes every day at around $3.20
per drink at coffee shops; the total cost per
month was around $200, which is $2,400 per year.
On the other hand, the initial investment in
the espresso machine cost me $850, including
shipping, with a couple hundred more for the
other accessories and paraphernalia. I have
spent an additional $500 per year on delicious
coffee grounds from New England Coffee Company
in the first year.
My friend turned me on to
them; and while I was initially skeptical about
finding good beans in the city, as opposed to
importing Italian grounds, I almost couldn't
believe the quality when I tasted the espresso
they produced - it was just that good.
things considered, I saved around $1,000 in
the first year alone, and now save just under
$2,000 per year. My cost per drink is approximately
one-fifth of what I would spend at Starbucks
or Giovanni's, not counting tips and other related
Now I drink espresso whenever I want. I no
longer am forced to deal with the lines, crowds,
and salesmanship of the major coffee retailers.
And instead of spending lots of money meeting
people at expensive restaurants, I have a few
friends over almost every night because I'm
able to provide a relaxed and sophisticated
And my parties have become huge
hits due to the cafe quality espresso drinks
which I serve after dinner and throughout the
evening. People come over so often that I've
become an excellent host, and a better chef
My only wish is that I'd been bold enough to
purchase my own espresso machine early. It has
become an invaluable addition to my life, bringing
me closer to my friends and colleagues.
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that I've saved enough money, Kate and I have
finally decided to book our trip to Europe.
We decided to vacation in Milan to see who makes
better espresso: me, or the masters themselves!