Coffee me

My workplace does not have free coffee.  It is a little frightening.

As a software developer, coffee is what creates code and keeps me happy.  No coffee = no code.  There’s a few options for coffee near by: Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, and the like.  Buying coffee from Starbucks every day adds up pretty quick.  Even a short drip coffee costs $1.75!  At 5 days a week, that’s $8.75… and that’s assuming I only have one coffee a day.  Prices at Tim Hortons are similar and service is slower.  And that’s just for regular drip coffee!  No wonder people talk about the latte factor!

For me, buying coffee every day is not really an option.  That leads us to making your own coffee.

If not a coffee service, does your workplace have a coffee machine at least? If you bring your own grounds, you could simply make a cup or two of coffee a day.  If you’re more socially-minded and your co-workers want to join in, you could easily start a coffee fund where the office buys a couple of bags of beans every month and brews coffee for everyone.  Personally I don’t like to use communal coffee machines, mainly because I find that people don’t clean them very well and someone usually ends up having more/less coffee than they paid for.

Instead, I like to use my French press.

Making great coffee in a French press is subject to a lot of debate, none of which matters when you desperately need a hot cup of coffee.  I go with the philosophy that simpler is better although there are lots of specific techniques that you can try.  I buy whole beans and ask the retailer to grind them for a press.  I fill up a well sealed jar with the grounds and leave that at my desk.  When I want a cup of coffee, I just add a spoonful of grounds to my press, 1 cup of hot water, and then steep it for 3-4 minutes.  Once it’s done steeping, I use a spoon to skim off the floaty bits, then use the plunger in the French press.  Ta-da!  Coffee for one.  I personally find that the quality of the coffee produced by a good French press to be better than the drip coffee from Starbucks.

My well sealed container!

What if you want your coffee and you want it now?  Instant coffee to the rescue!  You can make instant coffee even more convenient by creating a perfectly proportioned coffee mix that can be kept in a jar at your desk.

For this, you need instant coffee, powdered milk and sugar.  At home, experiment with proportions – how much coffee, milk and sugar does it take to make your perfect cup of instant coffee?  Suppose you find that 2 teaspoons of instant coffee, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of powdered milk equals a decent cup of coffee.  Then, you just have to multiply that amount by a big number, say 20, and fill your coffee jar up using those proportions and mix together.  Then when you want coffee at work, just fill up a mug with hot water and add a few spoonfuls of your coffee mix.  The proportions will always be correct!  When you have a bigger mug, use another spoonful.  When you have a smaller mug, use less.  But the great part is, you never have to worry about having milk or sugar around – it’s all right there already.

And don’t think that your awesome perfectly proportioned coffee mix is only good for work.  Next time you go camping, try filling a few small ziploc bags with single serving sized amounts of coffee mix – perfectly proportioned coffee on the go!  No need to remember to pack milk or sugar.  Just add water.

Brian and I just grabbed some more beans the other day.  We ground half of it for our drip machine at home and half coarsely for my French press.  I haven’t brought coffee to my new workplace yet, so this will be the first batch.  Hopefully it will help ease the coffee cravings at work and make my wallet a little bit happier!

Posted in: Life Hacks, Minimalism and Frugality

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