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A stranger in a strange café

A long line of cars in a Starbucks drive-thru

This photo is taken at the Starbucks a few blocks from my house. These people are waiting about 10 minutes in an artificial traffic jam for the privilege of spending $6 on mediocre coffee.

It's actually really easy to make better, faster, cheaper coffee at home.

There is a small upfront capital cost — a $25 electric kettle, a $10 milk frothing wand, and a $30 AeroPress.

After this, the cost of each marginal cup of coffee is the cost of beans and — if you're a latte person — milk.

I get my ingredients from the local Whole Foods where 28.5 oz of ground coffee is $9.30 and a half gallon of whole milk is $2.

Each serving of coffee uses about 0.5 oz of ground coffee and half a cup of milk, for a grand total of $0.30 per serving.

That's over $5 per day in savings. If our Starbucks customer goes every workday, that's $1300 per year. Seattle's median after-tax income is $60,000 — $1300 is over 2% of that!

If I told you that you could get a 2% raise by drinking better coffee and not wasting 10 minutes in a drive-thru, would you do it? Of course!

It gets even better. Our median income Seattleite values their time at around $30-40 per hour. Taking into account the time value of waiting in a drive-thru, the real cost of that drink is actually around $12.

I've dialed in a routine for making a silky-smooth foamed latte in about 2.5 minutes, so taking time into account, my all-in costs are around $2. That's $10 saved every single day! $2500 per year! Enjoying higher quality coffee!

I had to time myself making coffee to write this article accurately, so here's a video of an extra-foamy latte I made.