My coffee consumption went up in 2013

In 2012 I started tracking how many lattes I was drinking (among other things). At the end of the year, I posted the results. As mentioned in that post, I drink at least a mug of black coffee every morning (usually more like two) so I don’t bother tracking that. I still don’t, but I have kept track of my latte consumption for 2013!

Credo Coffee Vanilla Latte

I drank 158 lattes in 2013, up from 120 in 2012. That’s an average of just over 3 lattes per week. I did my best to record diligently and while I’m sure I missed a few, that’s probably fairly accurate. For simplicity, I tracked iced lattes and frappuccino’s as lattes too.

Here are my top ten lattes by number consumed:

  1. Credo Vanilla Latte (45)
  2. Starbucks Caramel Macchiato (22)
  3. Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte (15)
  4. Roast Vanilla Latte (11)
  5. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (8)
  6. Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino (7)
  7. Second Cup Caramel Corretto (5)
  8. Starbucks Eggnog Latte (5)
  9. Credo Iced Vanilla Latte (4)
  10. Transcend Vanilla Latte (3)

I spread things about a bit more in 2013 with 36 different drinks versus 29 in 2012. Here’s a look at my consumption over the year:

lattes by month

And here’s a look at which days of the week I was most likely to indulge on:

lattes by month

I also started tracking how much tea I drank in 2013 (though not by brand). If I drink tea, it’s almost always in the evening. In 2013, I did that about 126 times. Here’s the breakdown of type:

lattes by month

Last year I wrote that many of my lattes represented “an opportunity to sit down and chat with someone”. Based on my records, about half of those lattes were likely consumed in the company of someone else. Maybe one of my 2014 lattes will be with you?

I probably drank too much coffee in 2012

I drink a lot of coffee. I start my day with a mug or two of freshly ground and brewed coffee, usually black. A couple times a week and especially in the winter, I’ll also have a Starbucks Via in the evening, though I have been trying to drink more tea instead. On top of all that, I drink a lot of lattes. I generally don’t make new year’s resolutions, but I do like to try new things each year. For 2012, I decided I would dive further into the world of self-tracking. Using the free and wonderful DAYTUM, I tracked each latte I drank throughout the year. Here’s what that data looks like.

Credo Coffee
Credo Coffee on 4th Street Promenade

In total, I drank 120 lattes in 2012. I did my best to record diligently and while I’m sure I missed a few, that’s probably fairly accurate. That’s an average of 2.3 lattes per week. If I had purchased each one myself at an average of $5 (thankfully I didn’t, others often buy me coffee) that would be $600 over the year.

Here are my top ten lattes by number consumed:

  1. Credo Vanilla Latte (46)
  2. Starbucks Caramel Macchiato (12)
  3. Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte (10)
  4. Starbucks Eggnog Latte (7)
  5. Credo Iced Vanilla Latte (5)
  6. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (5)
  7. Roast Vanilla Latte (4)
  8. Transcend Vanilla Latte (4)
  9. Latte (3)
  10. Second Cup Caramel Corretto (3)

Plot everything on a graph, and you get a long tail:

The other thing I can do with the data is look at my consumption over the year:

And I can see which days of the week I was most likely to indulge on:

I plan to keep tracking this data throughout 2013, so it’ll be interesting to compare at this time next year.

Transcend Coffee
My first latte of 2013!

Though it seems like a lot of lattes, I’m not sure I necessarily want to cut back. Many of those lattes represent an opportunity to sit down and chat with someone, and that’s something I am not ready to give up!

Does Starbucks really offer 87,000 drink combinations?

starbucks I’ve written in the past about Starbucks and how it claims to offer 87,000 different drink combinations. I haven’t ever questioned that number though, and in retrospect I really should have. Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal’s Numbers Guy did question it:

Over the following weeks, I placed several phone calls and sent several emails, but didn’t get an explanation for the calculation. Nor could the company tell me who did the math. “It’s something a statistician put together, based on our menu board,” Starbucks spokeswoman Lisa Passe told me. “If you take all of our core beverages, multiply them by the modifiers and the customization options, you get more than 87,000 combinations.” She said a spreadsheet contained the relevant calculation, but added, “it’s not something we’ve ever circulated.”

Turns out he never did get a straight answer. The math isn’t simple. You’d have to know all of the various syrups, sizes, milk options, cream options, etc. You’d have to know all of the drinks and bean types, and you’d have to keep up with menu changes. I’m not surprised that no one seems to know the true answer. It would be nice if Starbucks could justify their marketing somehow, though.

I guess at the end of the day it doesn’t matter much. Even if it’s closer to 8700 than 87,000 the simple fact remains, there’s no shortage of choice at Starbucks.

Read: The Numbers Guy

Starbucks: 87,000 Drink Combinations

Post ImageAnd you thought deciding between a Grande and a Venti was hard! In the December 18th issue of Time there is a really great article about Starbucks and the challenges it faces as it grows. Currently there are around 12,440 locations worldwide and the goal is to expand to 40,000 – more than even McDonald’s. Also included in accompanying graphics are some interesting stats, such as the number of drink combinations:

Historically, Starbucks has done a great job at balancing new ideas with efficiency, says Frances Frei, a professor at Harvard business school who has studied the company. A classic example: the way it trains us to order in Starbucks jargon, grande this and half-caff that. Serving tens of thousands of possible drink combinations would be an operational nightmare were it not for a regimented logic to ordering, a marketing flourish that helps establish the atmosphere of an Italian cafe.

I always chuckle when people walk into Starbucks and order a non-fat, extra-hot, double-shot, no-whip, blah blah blah kind of drink. Why do they even bother drinking the coffee? I had never really thought about these combinations from the perspective of Starbucks, however. When you consider the 87,000 possible combinations, it’s amazing that half of Starbucks locations average 3 minutes per customer (less than 60% do according to the article).

I’ll probably still chuckle when someone orders what sounds to me like an incredibly complex drink, but at least now I’ll know this: it could have been worse!

Read: Time

Eggnog Season

Post ImageI mentioned earlier this month that the Starbucks Christmas Drinks are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season, and the Eggnog Latte is far and away my favorite (a quick search reveals I mentioned this in 2004 too). I think it’s because I like Eggnog itself so much! Last night I went grocery shopping with Kim and Tom, and bought a litre of Eggnog. As I poured myself a glass in the office, Dickson (who hates eggnog, by the way) asked why they only sell it during the holidays. Good question, and I haven’t found a really good answer. This one is the best I could find:

Today eggnog is used in a very different way. Now stores only sell eggnog around the holidays because eggnog is seen strictly as a holiday drink. Wealthy Brits often celebrated eggnog because it was a new drink that would not spoil. Considering that refrigerators were not yet invented, this was a big deal. This may be an explanation for why it is only served around the time of cheer and celebration. For some, eggnog is a drink that is symbolic of the holiday season in general.

I also found an interesting eggnog history, a recipe for Holiday Eggnog from the Alberta Egg Producers, and a bunch more recipes for things like Chocolate Eggnog and Eggnog Martinis. If you want to try my favorite holiday drink, pour some rum into your eggnog!