Sunday, June 19, 2005

Getting a "Charge" from Coffee

Ann Althouse points to a recent Washington Post article that weighs the cost of a college student's daily latte, especially if it's purchased by credit card. The article also notes that the career services division of the Seattle (of all places!) University School of Law is trying to actively discourage its students from satisfying their Starbucks jones.

Surely, it would be better to not add even the $3 a day to one's student loan debts, but Althouse notes the benefits of daily Starbucks visits:
A café is not just the coffee. It is an entire hours-long experience that contributes to your success as a student. It's true that to be financially savvy you have to realize that you spend a lot of money by spending a small amount of money on a daily basis, but there are much worse daily expenses that call out to students: bars, movies, cigarettes, fatty snacks.

I think the café-going student is operating at a high level, making a good choice.
I totally agree. I do make my morning coffee at home now, which saves me money on both the coffee itself and the trickle of gas it took me to get to the neighborhood convenience store. But I have no problem going to Starbucks later on in the evening, either to meet with friends or to bring a book or magazine and lessen the effects of cabin fever at home on a slow night. As Seattle investment manager (and daily Starbucks customer) Jon Markman points out in the WaPo article, the company has pulled off a unique cultural phenomenon:
[I]t has created the white-collar equivalent of the tavern next to the car plant, a place where office workers, 20-somethings and teenagers can all gather in comfortable surroundings for "an addictive product that doesn't kill you."
.A spokesman for a coffee industry group also points out that your $3 gets you the use of a table for a few hours; a restaurant would kick you out long before that, in most cases.

The "Stop Buying Expensive Coffee and Save Calculator" referenced in the article may cause the user to stop and think, but ultimately, it'll probably have as little effect on most of society as the "Chipotle Calorie Calculator" did a while back. It's good to do all things in moderation, but most people like to set their own level of moderation instead of having meddlesome busybodies trying to tell them what to do. Besides, most professors who teach early classes would no more want cranky students in their midst than they would want to be in "decaf mode" themselves while teaching. I don't see that crusade having much of an impact (especially in Seattle, where, as everyone knows, Dr. Evil runs Starbucks from his office in the Space Needle).

UPDATE: David Adesnik of OxBlog defends Starbucks (and its student patrons) in fine (and hilarious) fashion. (Hat tip: InstaPundit)

Since there's nobody out there named "Punksoul": Speaking of Prof. Althouse, I always thought that her last name would be a cool description of a genre of music--a cross between alternative and house. It might have to be hyphenated (alt-house), but I could totally see that category in a CD store.

More dad's day trivia: According to SBC Texas (hat tip: DMN), phone calls don't spike as much on Father's Day as they do on Mother's Day; last year, they increased 9 percent on Mother's Day but only 4 percent on Father's Day. (For more Dad's Day trivia from the Musings archives, go here.)

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "My brother's car blew up."--on a T-shirt worn by a woman at church this morning.


Eric Grubbs said...

Believe it or not, with my rather "weird" schedule, I am not a coffee drinker. I simply don't like the taste of coffee. I get too jittery with that much caffeine in my system

Kev said...

I'm not much for straight black coffee myself, but get the cream and sugar just right and I really like it. It wasn't my poison of choice in my KNTU days, because there wasn't a Starbucks on every corner back then (and there still isn't in Denton, where you have to go to Barnes and Noble, Albertsons or Kroger to find one). Back then, it was a sport bottle of Dr Pepper that kept me juiced on-air.