Monday, December 21, 2009

The Coffee Algorithm

I took the GREs the first time they were offered on the computer - like a hundred years ago. I remember reading about how the test was programmed as an algorithm. If you got a question right it gave you a harder one - a wrong response meant your next question would be easier. It was like this huge chart where choices carried different consequences and yielded different futures. I spent the whole time trying to decide if the questions I was currently answering was easier or harder than the previous one.

This morning, as I made krispys for Hayden and yogurt with manna for Zeni, the algorithm was again at work. Not about analogies or equations or anything useful, but about something that has come to take up a good deal of my time and provide me with a lot of pleasure here in the Inland Northwest - coffee.

Option one - last year, when faced with the prospect of moving to a town where drive through lattes do not exist, I purchased one very expensive espresso machine so I could use it and make my very own delicious morning beverage. God forbid I just make a cup of coffee.
This is usually an option only if I am not leaving the house until the afternoon. I have in fact done the math and even in the face of a figure that easily tops $500/year I still get some kind of weird satisfaction out of purchasing my morning coffee instead of making it myself.

So, not leaving house - make coffee. Leaving house? Things get a little more complicated.

There are three ways to go. Jacobs, Grand, or Starbucks. The math goes something like this:

I hate Jacobs - they are incredibly slow and never get everything right (nonfat, two shots, three splendas, iced please.) Their location is a pain in the butt - on the way downtown which is almost never where I am headed. It is, however, where my loving husband is always headed - in fact, he stops there most days for his $1 drip coffee, gets a punch on this punch card (buy 8 get the next one free) and then lovingly gives me his card mumbling under his breath about how his drinks cost 25% of what mine do so I might as well get the free one.
Free? I like free. Especially free drinks. Alcohol preferred, but at 9am on a Tuesday, especially when I have no cash and my change stash does not equal the $3.81 Starbucks asks me for, I like it enough to go to Jacobs.

Barring the existence of the free drink at Jacobs or my drive to get there, the remaining options are the Grand Latte (aptly named after the street on which it sits) or Starbucks.

The Grand Latte is locally owned. They use locally roasted fair trade coffee. They also have punch cards - buy 9 get 1 free so technically if I get the card stamped every time I go it's a 10% discount off my $3.50 drink. They are also on the way to preschool, and make a good drink. But their whipped cream sucks. And they have a tip jar and really friendly baristas and (as in any situation that involves tipping) I never WANT to tip, for Christ's sake I just bought an overpriced coffee from you! But then they remember my drink order, or they say hi to the kids or give the dog a biscuit, and I am wracked with a guilt which causes me either to act like a nut case trying to hurry off and not look them in the eye, or I err on the other side and leave like $5 to make up for all the other times.

And then there's Starbucks. I used to go there exclusively. I used to shun those frilly SAHMoms waiting in their Lexus SUVs at the Starbucks drive thru. Then I became friends with a wonderful woman who, in addition to being neither frilly or owning a Lexus, is addicted to Starbucks. We would walk there with our broods, she would get her chai and I my latte. And now I'm hooked. Their drinks are awesome, their whipped cream rocks, if you have to wait in line for too long your drink is free, AND I ponied up $25 for a "Starbucks Gold" card which gets you 10% off each purchase. AND that card expires in March, and their ending the program, so I had better get my monies worth. It is also the uber-franchised, not at all local (though their coffee is fair trade, whatever that means.. and Seattle isn't so far away..) politically incorrect choice.

Again, the guilt.

Seriously?. This is what I think about every morning. Can you imagine if that brain power was going towards something like, say, world peace, or even just raising my children!?

Sad but true.

(This one's for you mom!)


Amalia said...

LOL...OK THIS post was amazing! E, you crack me up! I love, love my morning at home in my French couldn't pay me enough to get my ass out of the house every morning to get coffee...(I try to do afternoon activities as I like to sit in my jammies for as long as possible!)A friend of mine goes to Grand all the time too...she loves their coffee..I've yet to try it. I've been meaning to hit that plant store right next maybe I'll do both! xoxoxoxo

Dearheart said...

I agree - Love this post, because it's you and because my brain follows the same lame path every day. Especially the Grand Latte algorithm. Those gals are so cute and T always wants to know their names.... I tip 25 cents. Big spender, I know.

anymommy said...

So basically, I can solve all your problems by calling every morning and begging you to walk with me?

Love it ;-) XO.

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

It's amazing what our minds will focus on when we are surrounded by short people, isn't it?

Kristen said...

oh my god... i love this!! hiiiii-larious.