You never know where your next article idea is going to come from. On a lot of days, I head down to the neighborhood Starbucks to grab a caffeinated beverage and sit down with my laptop and knock out an article or two. The inviting décor and soft music seem to create the perfect atmosphere for writing, and I must not be the only one with this idea, because I see other people working on their laptops all the time.
Standing in line today, I noticed a very polite, well-dressed woman standing in front of me. We happened to make eye contact and exchanged smiles. Our drinks were ready at the same time, so we made our way over to the “condiment bar” (for lack of a better phrase…you know, the place where you get your cream and sugar). I glanced over and noticed that her cup was only half full with a mixture of espresso and ice.
I watched as she proceeded to fill up the other half of her cup with whole milk from the carafe at the bar. Intrigued, I just had to ask, “Exactly what drink did you order?”
“Oh this…well, this is what you call a ‘ghetto latte’,” she said, leaning in close to me so no one around could hear us.
I cracked a smile. “You’ll need to explain that one to me,” I said. Without missing a beat, the woman proudly explained to me the whole “ghetto latte” process.
Apparently, some people find that a regular Starbucks iced latte, which is nothing more than a few shots of espresso, milk, and ice, is a bit too expensive for their budgets. So, these people have found an ingenious way to knock a few dollars off of their weekly coffee bill. Starbucks also sells an iced Americano, which is espresso, water, and ice, which is about a third cheaper than an iced latte. Here’s where the ‘ghetto’ part comes in.
Customers have found that you can order an iced Americano without water, giving you the espresso and ice components of an iced latte. Now, just walk a few feet, add your own, free milk from the self-service bar, and viola: a “ghetto latte” (or for those who prefer, the more politically correct “poor man’s latte”).
The woman who told me about all of this wasn’t someone I’d expect. She was dressed in a smart business suit carrying a Louis Vuitton bag. I looked at the menu, and for her grandé-sized drink, she saved $1.05 by ordering an Americano instead of a latte. Not exactly something to write home about.
But then I thought about it some more. Let’s say she stops at Starbucks nearly every day, or 300 times per year (I know some business people who drink Starbucks much, much more frequently, but we’ll be conservative). Over the course of one year, you can save $315 by drinking “ghetto lattes.” I asked my math-whiz brother to crunch the numbers, and if you invested that amount each year at a conservative 10% return, after 40 years, you would have close to $140,000. Now that’s not anything to sneeze at.
I guess it just goes to show that every little bit does add up and that it pays to be a tightwad. I’ve noticed in my life that the richer someone is, the ‘cheaper’ they tend to be. Maybe that’s not just a coincidence.