In Defense of Going Out for Coffee

updated Dec 17, 2019
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(Image credit: atichart wongubon)

Going out for coffee saves neither time nor money. It is, by most measures, a thing that is not worth it. And not by a little bit! It is both faster and cheaper to make coffee in the comfort of my apartment or, faster and cheaper yet, to drink the coffee at my office.

Still, I am a believer in going out for coffee. It is something I do at least three times a week — often more.

Why You Shouldn’t Go Out for Coffee

Let’s consider the math: Coffee in New York costs somewhere between $2 and $5. That’s a big gap, I know! But it really depends on if you’re getting a regular ol’ cup of joe or some fancy single-origin pour-over situation.

I tend to err on the side of regular, although sometimes I get an americano, which costs me $2.50. I also really like a cappuccino (or, as some places will call it, a flat white because Australia is way cool right now); it costs me $3.50 at my place in Brooklyn and $4 at the place right next to my office.

Let’s average that all out and say that a coffee of some shape or form costs me $3. But let’s not forget about tip! Sometimes I tip 50 cents, sometimes a dollar. So, okay, really it’s $4. That’s a lot! And if you take into consideration how often I go out, we’re looking at somewhere north of $600 per year if we’re being conservative.

If, on the other hand, I stay home and make my own coffee or tap into the office supplies, I’m probably buying a $10 to $15 bag of coffee per month, plus maybe a couple dollars on milk, all of which adds up to around $200 per year.

That’s a pretty big difference and we haven’t even addressed the issue of time. That math is a bit trickier (who can say how many minutes I’ve waited on line for a well-crafted cappuccino?), but I think it’s safe to say hands-down that home or office brew wins.

Why You Should Go Out for Coffee

But I’m still going to say that going out for coffee is worth it — at least to me. And it really boils down to one really simple, basic thing. It’s the same reason I have a dog. It’s the same reason I go into the office, even when I don’t have to.

Going out for coffee is a social act. It is, on some days, my only one. (Talking to my dog does not count.) And, for me, it is especially meaningful because I live next door to my coffee shop. If I go out to coffee, I go to the coffee shop next door. I know everyone who works there and they know me.

Sometimes we will catch up about this or that. Sometimes we will talk politics. Sometimes we are tired or busy and will just nod at each other and say thank you and you’re welcome and have a nice day.

And honestly? That interaction is often the highlight of my day. It’s the moment I realize that I am lucky to live in a city where baristas don’t just make a really good cappuccino — they also create music or art or go to school or are just here, trying to get the most out of this amazingly diverse city and reminding me of how much there is to love.

Is that a bit hyperbolic? Maybe. Maybe not. But I gladly pay an extra dollar a day for the joy I get from going out for coffee.

Your turn: Do you prefer to go out or stay in for coffee? Or are you more of a tea person?