I absolutely love Starbucks — so by pitching this story idea I served as the architect of my own misfortune. A month without my Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew? Strike me down! But at my editor's insistence, I agreed to avoid Starbucks for an entire calendar month. Luckily, I typically purchase coffee only Monday through Friday on my way to work, but there were 21 weekdays during my experiment and each one was painful. This made my palate very sad — but as expected, it made my wallet happy.
OK, let’s do the math (something I thought I’d never say in my post-graduate life). According to my trusty dusty Starbucks app, one grande Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew is $4.25 plus an aggressive 8.875-percent sales tax, bringing my total to $4.63 per coffee. That means if I had purchased one for every one of the 21 weekdays, I would’ve spent $97.23. If I had bought one every single day of the month, I would have been out $143.53. That’s not even counting all the Spinach, Feta and Egg White Breakfast Wraps I might’ve had.
So instead of succumbing to the Siren’s sweet nectar, my plan was to break out the Keurig and make some piping-hot drip coffee. Naturally, I chose The Original Donut Shop’s regular medium roast because it’s always been my home-brew of choice. One 18-pack costs just $13.88 (no tax) on Amazon. I compute that each cup of coffee costs 77 cents, meaning my 21-day stint would cost just $16.17. (For this experiment, let's ignore the fact that I had to buy an additional 18-pack to make 21 cups.) That’s a difference of $81.06. I could drink six cups from the Keurig every day for the same price as my Starbucks habit. Drinking it every day of the month would’ve set me back $23.87 — $119.66 less than if it had been Starbucks.
The only additional cost would be for liquid creamer. My go-to is Nestle’s Coffee-Mate in French vanilla. Because it's already sweetened, you don't need to add sugar. One quart costs just $4 on Amazon, so that’s nothing in retrospect.
Truth be told, I learned a very scary lesson from this — and it’s that I spend an atrocious amount of money on a drink because because I rely on it to wake me up in the morning. I'm practically on autopilot. Perhaps what’s even more terrifying is the fact that I’m going to keep buying it at an alarming rate because it’s a million times better than any coffee I’ll make at home. It’s not Keurig’s fault. I’ve been so spoiled by the way Starbucks beverages taste. I can’t even thoroughly enjoy watery coffee from the deli or any surrounding chains (that I've tried).
Another one of my downfalls is that I don’t really like hot coffee or even iced coffee unless it has a thicker, velvety texture. You don’t get that consistency from a pot or simple machine — I certainly can’t afford anything fancy — and DIY iced coffee kits just leave me with java-flavored water. So I drink the occasional Blonde Vanilla Latte or seasonal offering, but typically you’ll always see me with an iced coffee from Starbucks — even during cold-weather months when it’s below freezing and it physically hurts to hold the plastic cup outside on the walk to work.
The Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew is my one true love, and you bet I got one the minute my Starbucks ban lifted. You know when that first sip touches your soul? Yeah. That’s exactly how it felt. No wonder it’s considered one of the 9 best chains for cold brew coffee — but believe it or not, it’s not number one.