I used to buy my coffee every day from the cafeteria in my high school. I would buy 1-2 cups every morning and the styrofoam cups and plastic lids that it came in would go straight to landfill. It got a little bit better my freshman year of college when I lived in Paris. I used a french press, very authentic, and would drink my coffee at home before class, only to end up having to buy another once I got through my 9am 3 hour french lesson, can you blame me? Then, my sophomore year of college when I was back in NYC, I purchased a Keurig. I thought it was great. My semi-watery coffee was ready in 20 seconds, I could choose from an infinite list of exotic flavors, and I didn't have to clean anything. I could just fill up the back of some plastic thing, wait a few seconds, and then toss out another little plastic thing. It was so easy and I had no idea how wasteful I was being. I just knew I was semi-caffeinated and that was enough for me.
Then, one August day my junior year of college, my mom brought me over a pumpkin roast that was pre-ground. It smelled like a mix of every bit of fall nostalgia that I ever had. The problem was that I could not make it in my Keurig, so I unearthed the completely glass and metal french press that I had purchased in Paris. I filled it up with boiling water, coffee and waited a few minutes. Even at first sip I could not believe it. It was so much more flavorful and rich than the single serve coffee that I had been drinking. I had truly forgotten how wonderful coffee could be. A few days later, I sold my Keurig on Craigslist and relied solely on my french press. I haven't used anything else since.
Now that I am working and have to be up at 7am, coffee is everything. Including expensive. I just graduated, have an entry level job, and get paid a very, very entry level salary. While some people buy coffee every day, I simply can't afford it, and even if I could, I still wouldn't buy it out. Why? It is a waste of money, plus, I really think my coffee tastes better and I know exactly where it comes from because I buy Equal Exchange brand in bulk at my local market. My morning cup takes 8 minutes to make (four for the water to boil, and four for it to brew) and I can get ready during 6 of the 8 of them. It is an easy Zero Waste operation and I like it that way.
Now I make my coffee in my french press every day before work, and it pays off. A survey conducted by Accounting Principles showed that 50% of the American workforce spends $1,000 per year on coffee which is much more than I spend on my multiple cups of organic, fair-trade coffee that I take to work in a mason jar. Here is my coffee breakdown...
-One pound of bulk Organic Fair-Trade coffee every week and a half for $10.00 $347.00
-Organic milk purchased every week and a half for $5 $173.00
-Bulk Organic sugar every three months for $11 $ 44.00
The total is $564.00 for coffee and the works for my boyfriend and I every day of the year, so it would be even less for one! Subtract that from $1000.00 and you get $436.00 of savings. That money breaks down to about seven weeks of groceries for me, an obvious reason for me to make my coffee at home.
So there you have it. I get my milk, sugar, and coffee for over four hundred dollars less than 50% of the American workforce and it is waste free because I compost the grounds after!