A different take on drinking coffee … for pennies on the dollar

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2024

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When it comes to drinking coffee, you either love it or hate it, right?

The National Coffee Association’s most recent comprehensive study revealed that coffee drinking among Americans has reached new heights with 62 percent of the population partaking daily and 7 in 10 in the U.S. having some coffee every week.

What’s wrong with the rest of you who abstain? Actually, my wife is part of that group. I turned her into a sweet tea fan years ago but couldn’t do the same with coffee.

I started drinking coffee as kid — you know, about as much cream and sugar as actual coffee — with parents that were already hooked.

Mom used to brew a pot every morning, but things changed when I became an adult and not in a house with fellow coffee drinkers. So I discovered Folgers Instant for the taste, convenience and price — and have never turned back.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy getting coffee or a special concoction occasionally when I’m out and about. But it’s hard for me to justify paying the big prices on a regular basis at some of these coffee places. 

Why pay several dollars for a single cup of freshly brewed coffee — and a couple dollars or so more for the fancy lattes, mochas, etc. — when I can pull out my big plastic container of Folgers Classic Roast Instant at home, fill up my 16-ounce cup with water and nuke it for a couple of minutes before adding a heaping tablespoon of those magical crystals … for pennies on the dollar?

Yes, please.

Consider that a 16-ounce jar of Folgers makes 100 or so cups of coffee at that huge discount. When you added cream and sugar, I could still drink my coffee for less than a buck a week.

You can’t get much cheaper than that, but then my daughter-in-law introduced me to International Delight or Coffee-Mate flavored coffee creamers.

Big mistake. I now blow the budget to a certain extent by getting a jug of Hazelnut or French Vanilla for about $4 that lasts a little more than a week — about what one trip to a coffee house would cost. 

I do realize I’m in the minority on this issue. Of course, age factors in here. Nine out of 10 older coffee drinkers consume a cup at breakfast (wonder if that’s at home or at Starbucks or elsewhere?) whereas young people are almost twice as likely to consume a coffee beverage at lunchtime than someone over 60.

Almost half of daily coffee drinks are purchases from fast-food restaurants, coffee houses or doughnut shops or convenience stores, and nearly 60 percent of coffee served in the U.S. is gourmet (brewed from premium beans) with consumption of espresso-based beverages up significantly.

OK, enough of the stats. 

Starbucks has a store in Clemmons and the surrounding area has other coffee spots, including Dunkin’ and McDonald’s, along with other choices. And now comes news that Caribou Coffee, a global chain with more than 800 locations in 11 countries, is coming to Bermuda Run in the upcoming months.

I’ll give it a shot, but I know me. Old habits are hard to break.

• • • •

Recently, I was in the mood for some pimento cheese and stopped by Carlton’s in Clemmons at the corner of Hampton Road and U.S. 158 to pick up my favorite brand, Lexington-based Conrad & Hinkle.

It was late in the morning and I happened to be the only customer in the store. That’s rare. The store has become one of the top lottery retailers in the state with a reputation of handing out winning tickets. People come from near and far away to take a chance of having a big payday. I just wanted some pimento cheese. 

Having the store to myself, I asked the clerk on duty how much of the business at the popular store was customers purchasing lottery tickets.

“Ninety percent,” she responded.

Wow. I knew it would be a big number, but that exceeded what I expected.

I didn’t win or lose on this day, but I did walk out with some yummy pimento cheese.