It sure seems like the older generations have figured out what is wrong with the young whippersnappers of today. They are spending too much of their money on fancy coffee and avocado toast. The argument alone is so stupid and simplistic, and worse yet is that the statement has no substance. Anyone who isn’t financially independent and spends money on ANY luxury can be the target of these types of shitty articles. The people who write and promote this garbage on social media agree simply because the attacks are against luxuries they don’t enjoy. The fancy coffee and avocado toast could be replaced with any number of the following: Going to the movies, buying craft beer, buying a nicer car than a late 90s Camry or Accord, buying organic produce, going to concerts or plays, buying nicer sports equipment, etc, etc.
One of the many things I hate about these types of generational attacks is that they never tell you how to replace these things that skilled professionals are producing for you. The last three articles I read that said to KICK THE STARBUCKS HABIT suggested that coffee is cheap and you can easily reuse a keurig style machine with the pods, or use a french press or a Mr. Coffee or all these other super cheap options. It’s time to fix some of the fallacies with these bullshit articles.
I’m here to tell you that luxury goods and experiences are a wonderful part of life but should be enjoyed sparingly. Engrossing ourselves in luxuries every single day will make a person weak and soft to the challenges of the world. It’s also proven that exposure to luxuries on a regular basis will trick our brains into thinking they are necessities. What is the dad to do when his family wants good lattes every morning while avoiding the high price of paying a barista? You do it yourself and you do it right.
The first step to making something high quality yourself is to use the tools of the pros. The barista making a flower on your latte isn’t using a Mr. Coffee and a bottle of creamer from the grocery store so neither should you.
After a lot of research including asking all my friends who have ever worked in a coffee shop for suggestions we settled on this Rancillo Silvia pair of grinder and espresso machine. The total cost was right around $1,000 including shipping. A large upfront cost to be sure, but it breaks down to 166 small lattes at our local shop. Let’s add in the cost of the raw materials and the breakeven point was 200 lattes. We purchased this machine almost 3 years ago and it has paid for itself roughly 3-5 times over.
This is where I admit I wasn’t trying to solve my own barista made coffee problem but the problem of FireMom. I had tried everything from making her french press, to a manual espresso machine, to a plug in milk frother, but none of them replicated the quality of the coffee shop. She would try my idea for a few weeks but would eventually slip back into stopping on the way to work more and more. That all stopped when we got the right equipment. I needed to understand why my partner was spending money every day on the barista experience rather than doing it at home. The answer – was quality. Once we matched the quality she never looked back.
Here is how I make a latte every morning and then sometimes at lunch or whenever we want really.
$9.25 – Smart plug
Let me tell you about the smart plug. If you haven’t started researching the convenience of the smart home systems, now is the time. I have a few blog post ideas on these so I’ll spare the details. For now let’s just say for less than $10 our espresso machine turns on every morning at 6am, stays hot until 9am then turns off, then turns back on at 11am until 12:30pm. If it’s outside of those hours I can turn it on with my phone from anywhere in the world. Get a smart plug.
$300 – Rancillo grinder – “Your grinder is just as, if not more, important your espresso machine” That’s the advice from a family friend that is so into coffee he built a shed in his backyard to roast his own beans. I listened and got a really good grinder. The best feature of this one is that we can fill the little espresso wand thingy directly. Super convenient.
Negatives: We have to keep a towel right nearby as it tends to spread a fine layer of grounds in a 6 inch diameter.
$735 (today’s price) Rancillo Silvia – We paid around $575 but that was three years ago and it was on sale. I’m sure there are dozens of decently priced options that would do the trick, but we liked this one based on price. Here at the Firedad house I like to make things as automated as possible. I briefly considered the models that you can plumb directly into your water line, but didn’t feel that justified the price doubling. (Full disclosure, if I ever have to replace this one I’ll be getting one that has a water line) Do some research and buy what works best for you.
Negatives: We just have one hot line, this means that we first make the espresso then have to flick a switch to let the water get hotter to steam the milk. If you then want to make another coffee you either need to wait 5-10 minutes or the water will be too hot and burn your coffee. We counter this by making all the espresso we need for all the adults, then steam all the milk at once. More expensive machines let you do both simultaneously. You decide.
$30 – MISC accessories – Get yourself some insulated espresso cups. The opening to dispense is pretty small and we like to transfer to insulated travel mugs. The small cups help with the correct portion, easy clean up and are just worth it everytime.
FREE – line cleaning container – When you first get your steam ready you’ll need to purge the line for a second or so. We use glass milk containers. Technically they cost $2 a piece because of the refundable deposit, but we rotate them out monthly-ish.
Learn and perfect the craft. It is a very rewarding experience. I have my own recipe to the point that most coffee shops aren’t nearly as good. I’ve been able to dial my measurements to exactly my preference. I like 2 shots of espresso (beans that my neighbor roasts) and 3 ounces of 2% milk steamed extra long. Firemom likes 2 double shots of espresso (when she’s not knocked up) and she changes it up with whole and 2% milk.
In order to kick the habit we needed to first identify what was drawing us to a barista and work backwards. Once we knew it was the quality and art of the final product we could reproduce that and get even better results for a fraction of the money. Sure it’s not as cheap as the reusable Keurig, french press or Mr. Coffee, but those aren’t even in the same realm and trying to replace a luxury with the cheapest option was a shitty solution that we constantly failed at.
The cheapest option is often not the best. Identify your wants and needs then figure out the most cost effective way to do it yourself.
Fuck lazy journalism that says there is a problem and then provides non-solutions as fact.