Frugal Fridays: the Latte Factor


David Bach coined “the Latte Factor” to describe any senseless habit that leaks money out of your bank account every day. But what about taking him literally? Do you spend two-five bucks regularly on a coffee, or a soy chai latte?

Now I’m not dissing spending time at the coffee shop… It’s one of the cheapest dates Jason and I go on, and I use coffee shops instead of having an office. It’s remarkably thrifty if you are paying for drinks instead of rent. But that daily habit of having a morning drink through the drive-through window, well, it’s just a waste of money.

When I came pack from my (fourth?) trip to Ethiopia last May, somehow I, and my friend T, coincidently, got hooked on having coffee every day. It’s not something I’ve done as an adult… In fact, I drank copious amounts of coffee as a teen in Germany, but gave it up for fifteen years since it irritated my stomach. I found on that trip, the stomach irritation was gone. Yeah!

But drinking coffee (macchiatos, specifically,) in Ethiopia, is like drinking first growth Bordeaux. There is nothing like it in the world. Starbucks simply does not cut it. And Tim Hortons? Sorry, but that’s the coffee equivalent of Yellowtail.

20140425-101758.jpgMy friend Haile had given me a package of Marley espresso for Christmas that year, and I hadn’t touched it. He always gives me some fair trade Ethiopian coffee for Christmas, bless his heart, so that I have some to make for guests the year through.

But I popped open the espresso, and made some with the espresso maker I had bought baclpacking through Italy when I was 20. That espresso maker has been in 7 countries!

And voila. Damn good coffee.

Since, every day or two, I have a morning espresso. I’ve invested in a one-cup pot, and a properly sized cup that matches the rest of my dishes. And I order Marley espresso via American Amazon and pick it up every couple of months in my post box in the USA. (I’ve tried other fair trade Ethiopian espressos, but none are as good as Marley.)

I even invested in a jar of those little amaretti cookies, for five bucks, which will last me a year….

And you know what? Totally worth it.


Financially, I save a bundle. And honestly, I could never get this quality of coffee at a coffee shop.

The added benefit is that I actually have to sit down and sip for 5 minutes a day, which if you know me, is more than I usually sit still. It’s become a ritual, and my latter factor makes much more sense, finically and emotional health wise, than the Starbucks drive thru.

3 thoughts on “Frugal Fridays: the Latte Factor

  1. Some fresh coffee tips!
    Our freezer is way upstairs, and it don’t want to make that trip every morning. So I put some beans in a mason jar for storing in the pantry, and keep the rest of my beans in the freezer. Each day, I grind it up fresh. Yummy! And then it doesn’t go stale…

  2. Arnica, you’re a real coffeelover! I don’t buy fresh beans, but then again Turin has one of the best coffee makers in town….Lavazza …. when I worked near their factory, the fresh smell of toasting coffee beans would assail you on your way to work.

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