It starts as soon as I walk through the door — tired, thirsty and wallet in hand I enter Starbucks and I am suddenly intoxicated by the sweet aromas of coffee flooding my senses. The lighting is dim and creates a warm atmosphere, one that for many people like me feels like home. I walk towards the counter but am suddenly dazzled and distracted by cute mugs and tasty treats that look like they had been baked from scratch just hours before. I approach the counter and lift my gaze up at the menu, comforted by the many choices that lay before me but nonetheless I am completely satisfied with my daily order. I am greeted by a barista who enthusiastically and cheerfully asks me what I would like. I tell her my order, which sounds both familiar and exotic to me at the same time. I hand over a wad of cash and proceed to pick up my drink as it is finished being made. The taste is wonderful and I finally find my contentment.
I went through this every day. My daily routine included waking up, going to Starbucks, running to class, sometimes returning to Starbucks later on for a little afternoon delight and then I would do it all again the next day. After doing this for an unfortunately long amount of time, I realized that this was a bad habit. It’s no secret that daily consumption of high doses of caffeine has been linked to headaches, indigestion, increased risk of heart disease, and other health issues. What most people don’t know, however, is that Starbucks pours more caffeine into each drink than its competitors. For example, a grande (16 ounce) serving of Pike Place roast at Starbucks has 330 milligrams of caffeine per cup whereas the drink with the highest amount of caffeine at Dunkin’ Donuts has about 178 milligrams and McDonald’s has 133 milligrams per serving. Also, many of the Starbucks over-the-top coffee items are high in sugar and fat. Not only is it very unhealthy to shove a 500-calorie drink in your mouth sometimes twice a day, but also it is extremely expensive, and almost insultingly so. For example, my drink of choice at Starbucks, a grande skinny vanilla latte, costs more than $5. By drinking this every day I spent at least $35 a week on coffee. The tricky thing about coffee is that you don’t realize the implication of spending $5 here and $5 there until it eventually adds up. I reached a point where enough was enough and this is why I decided to quit Starbucks.
The first day was the hardest or, as Sheryl Crow puts it, “The first cut is the deepest.” I was tired, cranky, and in desperate need of a caffeine kick. My usually cheerful, albeit highly caffeinated self was struggling. The second day wasn’t much better. The third still the same. Days went by and soon enough it had been a whole week and I was flipping pages in my planner before I saw any progress.
It took some time, but I eventually broke the habit. Replacing the time that I would’ve spent waiting in line and buying coffee by sitting down and reading the daily news (read: scrolling through social media) filled the void in my life that I had foolishly thought only Starbucks could fill. With the money I saved from buying coffee every day, I was able to buy more personal items and save my money for things that mattered more to me than a daily cup of coffee.
I used to think that if/when I stopped drinking coffee I would transform into some kind of zombie. I thought that crowds and families with young children would turn away at the new decaffeinated version of me, but that never happened. Sure, I was a little tired at first and it was difficult to resist the temptation because honestly who wants to go through life without a caramel macchiato in hand? It’s hard but hey, it’s certainly possible.
So, if you find yourself addicted to overpriced coffee as I once was, let my story inspire you to break the habit. Resist the urge to caffeinate yourself. Put your wallet away. Turn away from the green mermaid on every corner. Quit Starbucks.
*DISCLAIMER: only applicable during the PSL off-season..
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