From the In-House Coffee-Related Decision Maker: How We Brew at Spend Matters

When it comes to coffee, I'm the resident office addict. Starting in at the ripe old age of twelve, when my relentless begging caused my mother to give in and buy me a Frappuccino at Starbucks, my habit has only escalated over the years. The garbage can at my desk is a caffeine graveyard, full of dead paper cups that I ritually pick up every morning on my walk to work. We have Starbuck's Via packets here in the office, which are good in a pinch, but just don't satisfy like a freshly brewed cuppa joe. With the addition of our new MetalMiner journalist, Taras, who borders on the same caffeinated mania that I do, we hatched a plan: ask Jason for an office coffee maker. "As long as I get a piece about your consumer spending experience and total cost analysis," he replied.

Combining coffee, vendor selection and shopping? No problem. First off, what are our options? We could go with an industrial-style traditional Bunn Office Coffee Maker, i.e. the type with the glass pots with garishly colored toppers that always smells slightly burned. We could go modern, and buy one of the Keurig individually brewed-per-cup pod systems. We could buy a French press. The possibilities for coffee brewing and consumption for a small business are seemingly endless.

I immediately dismissed the idea of a Keurig for several reasons. A base unit would set us back around $130, and a box of the "pods" is $22 for 50 units. Moreover, these pods should be immediate cause for ringing up the CSR police -- the waste would add up to more than my daily Starbuck's cup, especially if four people are using a pod or two every day.

And when it comes to cost, Say Taras and I each drink two pods every day. That's an extra $22/month we're spending, or $264/year. On top of this continual cost, there's the constant reordering process, and frankly, the quality of the product (if you don't have one of the terrible, sugary, caramel mochalatteiato pods, which masks the actual coffee) is awful.

The Bunn VLPF Automatic Coffee Brewer is quite a marvelous machine. Boasting two warmers, a boiling water tap, and the ability to brew four gallons of coffee every two hours (!!!), it was just too much for our little office, especially considering the initial cost of $555.58 and the ongoing cost of special filters.

I took it down a notch. One of my favorite things in an office setting is the smell of freshly brewed coffee. And flavor comes from grinding the beans right before you make a pot. Therefore I made the decision that we should get a machine that we can load up every evening, and will grind and brew for us every morning at a specified time. "Preset this coffeemaker for your desired wake-up time, add coffee beans to the grinder, and in the morning the beans are ground to a medium grind and hot coffee awaits in the 10-cup stainless steel, double-wall insulated thermal carafe," Amazon tells me as I research the Cuisinart DGB-600BC Grind and Brew. It has a washable gold filter, so we won't have the ongoing cost and waste of paper ones. The only thing we're throwing out every day is coffee grounds, which are biodegradable. We're using washable glass mugs, minimizing paper waste. And one bag of premium beans from Costco is $17, and can keep for probably two months or so based on daily use.

Most of all, I figured out that I spent around $5 every day at Starbucks for a grande drip coffee and (I'm a sucker) a bit of breakfast. Calculated, Jason's business expense (that he is able to write off) will save me $1,300 a year personally, and still keep me caffeinated. And we're being green, which makes the brew all the better.

Consider me a happy employee.

Sheena Moore

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