Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Starbucks is eating away at my retirement plan

For the record, I hate coffee. Plain coffee, iced coffee, flavored coffee…ugh, just the smell of coffee is enough to turn my stomach. I’ve always been a tea drinker. Hot, iced, whatever, I love it. Usually when I tell people that I don’t drink coffee, I get that sympathetic look like you give someone who has told you they have a terminal illness. I really don’t understand the obsession with coffee.

Seven years ago Joey and I went to Portland, Oregon for a software training class along with his business partner M. and his wife at the time, T. This was my first exposure to Starbucks, or as I’ve lovingly referred to it recently, Fourbucks. We were staying a few blocks away from Pioneer Square and they have a really cool Starbucks there, so T. talked me into walking down to get a pastry and a coffee. I struggled to find something on the drink menu that I liked but the only thing that looked relatively appealing was the Earl Grey tea. And I hate Earl Grey tea. Something about the flavor just turns my stomach, but in the name of being a good sport I bought my tea and muffin and sat with T. at a table to people watch. I think we went there one more time that week but I wasn’t that impressed.

At that point in time, the closest Starbucks from our city was probably a good two-hour drive. They just didn’t have them here at all until about three years ago when they started popping up slowly one by one like mushrooms. But I still never went to any of them.

When we moved into our new house a year ago, I discovered quite by accident that we have a Starbucks less than two minutes from our house. The weekend that we moved was very cold and nasty, so at one point Joey volunteered to go and scare up something good to eat and hot to drink so we could take a break and not have to worry about trying to find something in the gazillion boxes that we were trying to unpack. Not to mention the fact that he knows one way to soothe the savage beast otherwise known as Liz is to feed me. And that’s when it happened…he came back with a venti hot chocolate and the love affair began.

I am a chocolate hound of epic proportions. Hot chocolate is one of my absolutely favorite things to drink and I am constantly searching the shelves at any store to see if there is something new to try. No wussy Swiss Miss for me, please, I want the real deal. And it better be made with milk or it’s going to get ugly real quick.

When I started my diet back in the fall, I bemoaned the loss of my beloved hot chocolate. How could I possibly justify the calories? As it turned out, it was easier than I thought – Weight Watchers requires you to have so many “milk points” per day, and since I hate yogurt and was trying to avoid cheese, that left low-fat or non-fat milk. So I went into Starbucks one afternoon with desperation in my eyes and asked them what in the world I could have that would let me still have my fix without busting my points budget for the day. And that didn’t involve coffee.

The answer: a tall, non-fat, no-whip, sugar-free vanilla hot chocolate. Salvation in a paper cup. (Or as Joey puts it, virtually water with a little chocolate mixed in.) And at only four points, it’s the best four points of my day. When I finally reached the 30-pound mark I upped it to a venti and between that and a cup of oatmeal, that’s my breakfast every day. Sweet and good and I am one happy camper.

There is a lady named Velma who works as the cashier at our Starbucks. The day we came up with the hot chocolate, she looked me straight in the face and said, “Honey, that sounds like one big cup of no damn fun.” And thus it was christened The No-Fun Hot Chocolate. All of the baristas there know it by that name and when I walk in the door they don’t even bother to call the drink…I pay and it’s ready. And I know about 90% of the employees there on a first-name basis. How pathetic is that? I think I need professional help.

One of the baristas, Michelle, is constantly egging me on to get just regular vanilla. See, I can’t do that. If I get sucked in by the devil Regular Vanilla, I will never be able to turn back. I am going to stick with my No-Fun and hopefully keep myself from ballooning up to Orca size again. But I shudder to think how much this habit is costing me at $3 a pop. I guess it could be worse and I could be like some of the regulars I see in there that rack up almost $5 a drink, but it really doesn’t make me feel much better. At this rate, Monkey Man better be looking at a really, really cheap college or be happy with a work-study program because I don’t think I can give this addiction of mine up. Although the thought of him talking to the Admissions Office of his college of choice and asking about financial aid due to his mother’s raging Starbucks addiction does make me a teensy bit guilty. Notice I said teensy.

1 comment:

Christina000 said...

I was just like you with the coffee aversion....for the longest time. Then I tried the mocha, and then I tried the caramel macchiato. And that is my latest obsession. It really is good. But now you have me wanting to try the venti, lol.