OFFBEAT: Cheap coffee, please

I like coffee. Coffee to drink. Coffee ice cream. Coffee candy. Chocolate-covered coffee beans. Coffee yogurt.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

I like coffee.

Coffee to drink. Coffee ice cream. Coffee candy. Chocolate-covered coffee beans. Coffee yogurt.

Yes, they do make coffee yogurt. After eating it as part of my packed lunch on a frequent basis co-workers have begun to wonder what all the hype is about.

From what I can gather it's either a love or hate relationship when it comes to caffeine. For me it's a love.

My secret vice is going to Starbucks. Some would argue I have fallen to the corporate man. I just call it a mocha and caramel macchiato addiction. My dad knows about my love of coffee drinks. He calls them "frou frou" drinks.

On the same note he still bought me a Starbucks gift card for my birthday. Sad I know. Even dad knows having a "frou frou" drink every once in a while can make a bad day turn a little better.

And apparently I'm not the only person with the coffee itch. Type the word "coffee" into the Google.com search engine and Starbucks is the second Web site to appear.

There's something about drinking coffee that makes a morning better. Some people can tell if I've had my coffee for the day depending on my early morning disposition. When a smile beams across my face I've probably had my cup of joe.

Sadly though, just last week the coffee retailer announced it would close 600 stores nationwide. I talked to a few people about the news and joked that they probably put themselves out of business.

Go to any largely populated area like New York City or Chicago and you will find a Starbucks every two blocks. And that's in addition to a plethora of other coffee retailers.

A mere two years earlier in 2006, the company announced they were opening 1,300 new stores nationwide, according to a report by TIME magazine. That brought their total U.S. stores to more than 11,000.

While I still figure buying coffee a few times a week is easier on the pocket book than smoking cigarettes or going out to eat every day, it's beginning to make an impact.

That pocket book crunch is exactly what Starbucks executives say is the problem. The company contends a slow economy has prompted the closings, the report said. And that might very well be true.

But as many times I've tried making a drink with the same flavor and mouth-watering goodness at home for myself, it never seems to come out tasting the same as the one handed to me over the counter at the coffee shop.

It's similar to cooking a meal. A meal prepared by someone else always seems to taste better than the one prepared with your own hands. Don't ask me why. It just does.

Despite my pocket book woes, for now, I'm still going to look for the warm, welcoming arms of Starbucks where ever I go. When I recently went on vacation I was thankful to see the corporate giant in every airport.

I think the consistency of the prepared drinks keeps me coming back each time. I can always count on the mocha I order in Sandusky will taste just like the one I order in Miami, Fla.

But will they always count on me to order one? Maybe.

How can I guarantee I will order one? Reduce that mocha to $1.50 and I'll be a life-time customer.