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?

How I travelled in 2012

Lattes weren’t the only thing I decided to track in 2012! I also decided to track how I much I travelled over the course of the year. One reason I wanted to do so was simply for my own knowledge! I think if you really want to change something, you need to first measure it. I figured if I could compare how often I drive with how often I choose other methods, I might be more inclined to change my behavior. Another reason was to hopefully inspire others to look at their own habits.

111 Street Pedway
Cars, buses, LRT, and good old fashioned walking! Photo by Darren.

I used a few tools to track this information. First, my Fitbit, which tracks how many steps I take each day. Second, I took advantage of the data I have been tracking for years about my driving habits. And finally, I recorded everything else in DAYTUM. To get distances, I would use Google Maps or this handy calculator. I use TripIt for all my out-of-town trips, so that’s where I got the flight distances.

Here’s what the overall distance data looks like:

Airplane 34642.0
Bicycle 16.4
Bus 392.4
Ferry 5.7
LRT 207.5
Shuttle 55.4
Streetcar 17.1
Subway 1.0
Tube 110.9
Vehicle 6951.1
Walking 2043.1

No surprise there – I travelled further by airplane than any other mode of transportation. I flew to Toronto, Portland, Kamloops, London, Dublin, and Miami in 2012.

What’s more interesting is comparing how I got around Edmonton and the other cities I visited:

I suppose including the steps distance in that is a bit misleading, because walking around the house or office is included in that total, but there’s no easy way to break it out. Regardless, I think that chart more or less illustrates how I get around Edmonton. If a destination is in walking distance (about 20 minutes or so), I’ll generally walk. If it is far away, I’ll probably drive. For everything in between, I try to take transit.

If I could do it again, I would have tracked the # of trips in addition to distance (I have started doing that for 2013). I didn’t track how many times I used the car to get around Edmonton, for instance. I did track bus & LRT trips though, because I had to enter all that data into DAYTUM. In total in 2012, I made 141 trips using public transit:

Tracking the amount I walk has absolutely been motivating. There were lots of times that I tried to walk a bit more, just to get over 10,000 or whatever milestone I was close to. According to my Fitbit, I did 2,835,849 steps in 2012, covering a total distance of 2043.1 KM. That works out to an average of 7749 steps and 5.6 KM per day. Here’s what it looks like on a chart:

I did more than 30,000 steps on June 9 (which was the day of Al Fresco) and more than 25,000 once more on August 26 (which was the tour of the Northeast farms and Blink). I did more than 20,000 steps five times and more than 10,000 steps seventy-four times. My laziest day was Boxing Day when I did just 1860 steps (clearly, we stayed home).

Portland September 2012

Recording all of this data has definitely caused me to think about my habits more, and my lack of cycling stands out. If I had a bicycle, I could probably replace a number of the car trips that are either too far for walking or too inconvenient to wait for the bus. I really loved cycling when we were in Portland, so I think I will definitely try to do more of it here in Edmonton this year!

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!

The story of how I fell out of love with driving

When I got my current car, a 2005 Honda Civic, my Dad bought me a gas mileage book and told me to record each and every time I filled up. I have been diligently recording the date, odometer reading, number of litres, gas price per litre, and total cost of each fillup ever since. I also record notes on some fillups, such as out-of-town trips. A couple of weeks ago, inspired by Nora Young’s trip to Edmonton to discuss self-tracking, I finally decided to digitize the records. It occurred to me that this was the first bit of self-tracking I ever did. I know that I drive far less today than I did when I got the car, and I wanted to be able to visualize that. You can see the charts below, but to really understand them, I need to share a bit of history with you first.

The moment I turned 14, I was ready to get my learner’s permit. Like most guys my age I desperately wanted to drive, even if I needed to have an adult with me. I got the study guide, but didn’t spend too much time with it. As a result, when I went to write the test, I failed by one question (it was something to do with uncontrolled railway crossings if I remember correctly). I made sure to not let that happen again, and the second time I passed with no problems. I was living with my Grandma at the time, and she was great about letting me drive. Whenever we went to the grocery store or if she was dropping me off somewhere, she’d happily take the passenger seat.

I took lessons from AMA to learn how to drive a manual transmission, and took the driver’s test soon after I turned 16. With only a few minor hiccups I passed, and was free to drive on my own (fortunately I got in just before the GDL program took effect, so I had no limitations). When I was in high school, I drove a lot. I thought nothing of crossing the city to get somewhere or to drive a friend home. Gas prices were quite a bit lower at the time than they are today, but looking back it still seems incredibly wasteful how much I would drive.

When I started attending the University of Alberta, I would frequently drive. Sometimes I’d park at campus, other times I would get a ride with a friend, but most times I would park at the Stadium LRT Station and take the train the rest of the way (also handy because my office was downtown). I would sometimes take the bus, but I never made that a habit.

Shortly after I graduated in the spring of 2007, I started working at Questionmark. Our office was located near The Brick warehouse in the northwest part of the city, and I was still living with my Grandma in the southeast. That meant driving about 60 kilometers every day, and it meant driving the very busy Whitemud. I looked at taking the bus, but it would have taken about 45 minutes and required a transfer.

In May 2008, I moved into an apartment in Oliver with my sister. That cut the distance to work significantly, though I still drove every day. Roughly a year later, with our local team growing at Questionmark, we decided to move the office downtown to the Empire Building. I started taking the bus to and from work every day, because it was just a short trip (about a 15 minute ride) and I didn’t want to pay for parking.

In the summer of 2010, Sharon and I moved into our current place on 104 Street. I’m now just a short walk away from the office (Google estimates 9 minutes), which means I walk to and from work every day. As we have written before, I absolutely love it.

To recap quickly:

  • June 2005 to July 2007: I drove pretty much everywhere.
  • July 2007 to May 2008: I drove across the city to get to work every day. I regularly drove other places.
  • May 2008 to May 2009: I still drove to work every day, but the distance is much shorter.
  • May 2009 to July 2010: I took the bus to work, and drove only on evenings and weekends.
  • July 2010 to present: I walk to work, and avoid driving whenever possible.

Here’s what that behavior looks like on a graph:

distance by year

I think the four big shifts are pretty evident in that graph. Slowly but surely, I have been reducing any dependence on my car to get around.

Out of interest, here’s what that behavior cost me at the pump:

spend by year

I wish I had kept records prior to 2005, because I know the price of gas was quite a bit less when I first started driving.

What’s not captured in this data is how my attitude toward driving has changed over the years. It sounds counterintuitive, but the less time I spent behind the wheel the less I enjoyed it. I remember arguing with Sharon back in my university days about how terrible our public transit system was (she has always been a regular user). I loved driving and wanted nothing to do with the bus. Today we use the car maybe once a week, for trips to Superstore, to visit family, or to get out of town, and I regularly complain if I need to drive for pretty much any other reason. I would much rather walk or take the bus. I now find driving quite stressful! I’m sure that the shift from driving to walking has positively impacted my health. It has no doubt lowered my carbon footprint by quite a bit as well.

Also missing from the above charts are the other changes that have made my move away from the car possible. Without question, being able to use Google Maps to lookup bus routes has been hugely beneficial. Text messaging at bus stops has also made the experience of using the bus much more positive. My experience traveling in other cities has no doubt had a big impact on me as well. The are lots of things to consider.

As much as I would like to go car-free, it’s just not a very realistic option in Edmonton at the moment. I’m hopeful that will change however, and that our next car will be our last (though I recognize that other life changes may significantly affect that plan).

In an effort to better understand my behavior and potentially change it, I have been tracking my travel habits every day this year. In January, I’ll be able to show you a full year of data, including how often and how far I traveled by foot, bicycle, automobile, bus, train, plane, etc. Stay tuned!