2020 is right around the corner and with the holidays coming to a close, most of us are reflecting on our years and reevaluating some of our habits and life choices.
The problem is resolutions can be difficult to maintain. In fact, more than half of Americans will make a resolution on New Year’s Day, but by February most people are backsliding, and by the next December nearly everyone is right back where they started. Part of the reason this happens is people tend to create lofty or vague resolutions with no real means to measure them. It’s one thing to say, “I want to save money,” or “I want to reduce my waste,” but another thing entirely to create a plan of action in order to achieve these goals.
Whether you’ve resolved to save money, reduce waste, or focus on self-care, one simple change in your daily routine may be the answer to achieving these goals: brewing high-quality coffee at home.
If you’re anything like most Americans, your morning starts with a cup of coffee. A large percentage of daily coffee drinkers visit some sort of restaurant or coffee chain to get their morning fix. Depending on where you go, you’re likely spending an average of $2 for a 12oz cup of brewed coffee after tax (not including money spent on added milks, specialty flavors, or tips for baristas.) You could be spending anywhere from $730 to over $1800 a year on coffee, assuming you buy one per day, every day. Triple that for the millions of Americans drinking 3 or more cups of coffee per day. Yikes.
Now you don’t have to cut coffee, and visits to coffee shops, out of your life completely just to save money. Even if you cut back on going out for coffee half of the time, and brew at home instead, you’ll still see good savings by the end of the year.
Consider a 12oz bag of whole bean coffee. Whole bean, single-origin, specialty coffees can range from anywhere between $13-17 per 12oz bag. That can seem like a lot upfront, but when you break it down by cost per cup, the average price is between $0.61 and $0.78 per cup. Following SCA’s recommended ratios, you can expect to yield about 16 servings of 12oz brewed coffee per bag. Assuming you drink a lot of coffee and can finish a 12oz bag in only 1 week, there is still a cost savings of around $10 to $20 per week. That’s a yearly savings of $500 – $1000 (enough for a small vacation) simply by brewing your coffee at home HALF the time.
The icing on the cake? You get to start your morning with a delicious cup of coffee, brewed exactly to your individual taste preferences, every single time.
It’s no secret that coffee shops produce a lot of waste, from plastic jugs to disposable cups, straws, and lids, the amount of single-use plastics thrown away daily in a coffee shop is getting out of hand. Although many paper to-go cups claim to be recyclable, they are typically coated with a waterproof inner lining that most recycling facilities have no way to manage, and they end up in landfills anyway. Starbucks alone throws away about 4 billion disposable cups in the US every year.
Coffee shops aren’t the only problem. Single-use plastic cups (like the kind used in Keurig machines) are also a major concern, and it’s well noted that the waste from K-cups has produced enough trash to circle the earth 11 times. Unfortunately, convenience has come at a very high cost.
A simple solution is to brew coffee at home with a regular coffee maker, or (even better) a device like a French Press that yields even less waste. Your coffee will taste much better than what a single-cup maker could ever produce, and you won’t be wasting plastic or paper cups. Plus, you can use the leftover coffee grounds for your compost pile or in your garden.
Sure, this solution may be very small in the grand scheme of global waste, but even very small changes add up and contribute to the bigger picture.
Recently there has been a lot of focus and attention on the cultural phenomenon known as “self-care”, and while it has been turned by corporations into little more than a marketing ploy, the general concept still holds weight. There is power in presence and intention. The average person might struggle to sit and “meditate” for 10 minutes a day, but even something as simple and mundane as brewing a cup of coffee for yourself can easily be considered a meditative experience if you make it a point to slow down and be present in the moment. It’s easy to get lost in thoughts and to-do lists while waiting in line at a busy café, but brewing a cup for yourself takes just enough attention to force you to be aware of your senses and exist in the moment, without requiring so much thought that you sacrifice peace. It might sound silly but taking a few extra moments to make and enjoy a cup of coffee in a mindful way, may be just the thing you need to reduce stress and increase overall cognition.
The power of self-care also goes far beyond mindfulness. Sometimes the best form of self-care is being conscious of what you put in your body. Are you drinking coffee that requires milks, creams, sweeteners, and flavoring in order to be palatable? What sugars, gums, oils, and preservatives are in the latte you get every day? We are often so far removed from what we consume that we don’t have a true understanding of what goes into our bodies. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with adding a little milk or natural sweeteners to your coffee, making it at home gives you more control over how much, and WHAT, to add. As a bonus, you’ll likely lose a little excess weight! And remember, if you’re drinking high-quality specialty grade coffee, it’s much less likely that it needs any additives in order to be delicious.
While it won’t solve all your problems, brewing great coffee at home can be a great small change to make in your daily routine. It won’t seem like a big difference at first, but by the end of the year, we guarantee that you will have saved some money, reduced your carbon footprint, nourished your mind and body, and had some really delicious coffee. Consider making it your resolution this year. It won’t be difficult to keep.