Slow learner, fast talker

By Mir
May 2, 2008

I have mentioned before that I generally have a single cup of coffee or tea in the morning, and maybe one diet coke in the afternoon. I like caffeine. Honestly, I’m ALL FOR caffeine, but I drink it rather sparingly. I am not a caffeine-all-the-time person, at all.

You also may recall that I am all about the bargain and, indeed, count my frugality and deal-sniffing abilities amongst my finest talents, so it’s very rare that I partake of “fancy” coffee because GOOD LORD, $4 for something I can make at home for a quarter? SERIOUSLY?

Nevertheless, it remains a truth of life that sometimes you simply must have A Fancy Beverage out and about, and I try to deal with that as best I can.

This morning I had the good fortune to meet up with Stephanie at a local Starbucks to just sit and enjoy the gorgeous morning and gab. And drink coffee. It was lovely, and it wasn’t until several hours later that I realized that sometimes, being bargain-minded and a caffeine lightweight just don’t mix.

To wit: If I’m actually going to spend the money (and here’s the funny part, it wasn’t even my money! I had a gift card!) on the fancy coffee, I am apparently smart enough to know that I don’t need a Venti (that’s Italian for “big-ass”), but the price difference between the Tall (“small”) and the Grande (“neither small nor big-ass, Goldilocks”) is small enough that the dealhound in me demands that I go for the Grande because I am convince that it’s a BETTER VALUE.

I am here to tell you that it’s not a better value if the Grande is roughly equivalent to twice my normal daily caffeine intake, and I cannot stop babbling or VIBRATING for the rest of the morning.

If you see Stephanie wandering the streets of Georgia this morning, looking dazed and confused and bleeding from the head? It’s because I talked her ears off. Whoops.


  1. Beth

    Thanks for the chuckle…and the not-so-lovely mental image of Stephanie. She needs ice cream to stop that “dazed and confused and bleeding from the head” thing…trust me, it works.

  2. Megan

    Which is why my Male Child is rarely if ever allowed caffeine. One simply does not take the hummingbird of the family and then jack it up on legal uppers – not if you quite like your furniture… and your sanity.

  3. ImpostorMom

    I love me some fancy coffee drinks. I have to stay away because I could easily spend a small fortune on them. I typically drink two very large cups in the morning and then nothing else the rest of the day. Unless I’m feeling particularly sleepy then I have myself one of those fancy big-ass iced coffees on the way home.

  4. Damsel

    ROFL @ your ass-essment (HA!) of Starbucks sizes. Goldilocks – BA HA!

  5. Kirsetin

    Aaaahh, the lessons of early-morning caffeine overdose–you can also experience these when drinking can after can of diet-pepsi during home renovation projects. Or just buy a new house!

  6. Tammy

    I agree Mir…much of my overindulgence comes from NEEDING to purchase the ‘best value’ for my $, which throws portion size completley to BFE.

  7. Poppy Buxom

    I drink tea–the methadone of caffeinated beverages. I generally have some near me all day long, sipping away like a dowager.

    But when we drive from Chicago to New Hampshire, we get Lavazza coffee drinks at the highway stops. OMG those things are CRACK.

    o hai offisur, rlly, I didn’t kno I wuz driving 90, srsly.

  8. mamajama

    That’s how they get you hooked…those no good starbucks caffeine dealers…

  9. themuttprincess

    You will be jonesing for another this afternoon!

  10. Lady M

    I was complaining about the stupid naming convention to a friend from Seattle, and he said that they call it “tall” because you can still order a “short” – it’s just not on the menu anymore.

    Whatever. I just annoy the baristas by saying “smallest size” on the few occasions that I order.

  11. TNMom

    I’m cracking up here! I spent the entire day yesterday “babbling” and “vibrating” and buzzing around my office all due to a couple larger than average cups of java. Thankfully, free here at work but still TOO MUCH caffeine.

    Mir, you always make me smile! My boss just doesn’t understand why :o)

  12. meghann

    On a long road trip last year, I was really getting sleepy behind the wheel. I decided to go through the drive thru of “Expensive coffee place” and ordered a triple shot frappucino. Three. Shots. Of espresso.

    I was so buzzed, I swear I could track each and every one of the stripes on the road as they flew by at 70 mph.

  13. RuthWells

    I am a caffeine-free girl, and the few times I’ve bought a cup and not kept sufficient watch on the barrista and ended up with caffeinated instead of decaf? VERY UGLY.

  14. TC

    Me too, RuthWells! But I love me some not-made-by-my-own-hand coffee anyway, so I often stop by Starbucks (or a Starbucks equivalent) and get me a decaf. After the ordering of which I obsessively ask, no fewer than 12 times, “Are you SURE it’s decaf? It really needs to be decaf. If it’s not decaf, it’ll be bad. So are you sure it’s decaf???”

    They hate me at Starbucks.

  15. LiteralDan

    I’ve had similar crises of logic regarding whether I really need 56 ounces of pop, a bedsheet of pizza, or a kiddie pool of popcorn just because “it’s only $0.35 more!”

    What are simple people like us to do against such devious minds?

  16. bec 38

    I am a caffeine hound, or junkie, if you will. A coffee place around the corner from my old office called their sizes Tall, Grande, and (I swear) Jumbo. I just couldn’t bring myself to order the Jumbo. So I went to Starbucks instead ;)

  17. Sage

    Actually, for future reference, usually the best deal is the “Short.” It’s not printed on the menu, and pretty much only free-standing stores have them (i.e., Starbucks that are in grocery stores often don’t carry the size.) BUT! They are a better deal, a reasonable amount of caffeine, taste better than the larger sizes (really they do. It has to do with being the correct proportion of ingredients.) AND you get the satisfaction of ordering something that’s cheaper than their ‘regular menu’ that they don’t want you know about because they are trying to get as much money out of you as they possibly can! What’s not to love?

  18. Libby

    “Venti (that’s Italian for “big-ass”), but the price difference between the Tall (”small”) and the Grande (”neither small nor big-ass, Goldilocks”)…”

    That is some funny stuff Mir. Now I won’t be able to order coffee at Starbucks without laughing.


  19. Amanda- VintageDutchGirl

    Actually, did you know that pulled espresso shots have less caffeine than ‘regular’ drip coffee? Coffee shops usually have the better Arabica beans, which have less caffeine content.

    OK, I know I’m a nerd, but hey, I live in Seattle, I HAD to represent!

    And I FEEL you on the frugality vs. fancy coffee dilema! Although, I must say Starbucks has quite the win record with me ;)

  20. Little Bird

    I am a caffine addict. That being said, I cannot drink a venti (big-assed) coffee to save my life. I can, however, drink two litres of soda in a day. Caffine AND sugar!! Good times. If I have too much though I start to shake. And lose the ability to talk. I have no idea how to counteract the effects of my caffine intake on others. Ice cream? I would have figured shots would help.

  21. mamaspeak

    I’m addicted to the starbuck mocha. I’ve got my order down to a science because I actually don’t like coffee, but hot chocolate is just a bit too sweet for me. I always order a venti because I need to milk to coffee ratio to work it out correctly. I found that I am not addicted to the caffiene and went decaf a few years ago, but if they screw it up and put in the leaded I can totally taste the difference. So here’s something to give you palpatations Mir; my crack habit costs me $4 every day! I get a Vente, decaf, single, whole milk, mocha w/whip. Yup, I pay $4 every day for a shot of decaf chocolate. But man is’s like drinking gold (costs about that too.)

  22. Dani

    I am a coffee addict. There. I said it.

    Now that I got THAT out of the way….

    I hate Starbucks. To me, it tastes like that 10 hour old burnt coffee that the oil change place gives you for free while you’re waiting for your car. BUT I also hate the coffee I make, too. I prefer no-name coffee from delis, ice cream shops, etc.. I buy two cups of coffee a day (black, no sugar) from a local drive thru convenience store. An XL (24 oz.) in the a.m. for $1.79 and a Med. (16 oz.) in the afternoon for $1.58. (Please don’t do the yearly math a report back to me. I really don’t want to know.) I never make coffee for myself at home but I HAVE to have those two cups of coffee or I get a whopper of a migraine. Caffeine withdrawal is Not Fun. The cost is completely worth avoiding the pain.

    Your explanation of “vibrating” from the caffeine made me laugh. That’s exactly what happens to my 13 year old if he drinks more than 3 or 4 ounces of soda. You can literally SEE him vibrating from across the room, LOL! Needless to say, he avoids soda without me having to say a word.

    So Mir… Are you going to get any sleep tonight or has it worn off? I’m sure it was a lesson learned, my frugal friend. ;)

  23. Cele

    The killer part about too much caffine in a sugary drink is the killer let down you get 90 minutes later.

  24. Flea

    Caffeine calms my Little Guy right down. :) Me? Never mix real coffee with Adderall XR. Bad, bad, bad. I’m right there with ya.

  25. Ladanea

    One of my goals this year (before I turn 40) is to wean myself off the caffeine. So far I think I’ve managed to about double my daily intake instead. So yeah, totally looking forward to those migraines.

  26. Law Student Hot Mama

    I had to stop drinking caffeine cold turkey when I found out I was preggo . . . during law school exam period. I thought I would bleed from the eyes. My son is now 9 months . . . and I refuse to start drinking caffeine again just because it was so awful to go off it the first time and when I become preggo again, I don’t want to do it again.

  27. becky

    i treat myself once a week or so to the ‘bux. because it’s a 1/4 mile from our place and i walk there. gets both me and the kid out of the house, and i get some exercise. and yes, i do buy a foo-foo drink. i don’t like their brewed coffee. burnt. i just have them cut way back on the chocolate in a mocha and it works for me.

  28. smarty

    I drink a half pot in the am and warm the other half up for the afternoon coffee break. Gotta. Have. Coffee. I rarely go to fancy places because I don’t know how to order fancy coffee. I know, first the fish and now this. I just realized I’m a complete wimp.

  29. Jenn

    I miss you. Our time together was way too short. And, man, this post makes me wish you were in town again, and I could ply you with all sorts of coffee and, you know, wine and truth serum. Because you are fun like that.

  30. littlepurplecow

    I loved pumping you up with caffeine and gabbing all morning. My ears are in tact and I’m so looking forward to our next visit.

  31. Stephanie

    Funny story… I could be that Stephanie, I think that’s happened to me before. But here’s a frugal little tip. This really only applies if you like to drink the drip coffee like me. I always order a tall because even if I try to convince myself otherwise, that’s what I can handle. If it turns out that I’m there for a while and I really do need more, you can get a refill for about 50 cents. You probably end up spending more if you actually get the refill than if you had just bought the venti (then again maybe not) but in the end I never opt for the refill and my heart doesn’t feel like it’s going to beat right out of my chest. Just knowing that the possibility of refill exists is enough to convince myself that the tall is enough.

  32. Daisy

    Oh, I am an addict. The local drive-thru coffee kiosk (Jo to Go, not Starbucks) knows me. By the time I pull up to the window she has my 16-oz. hazelnut, black, ready to go.
    Yes, I always tip her.

  33. Cera

    Do you mean it is NOT normal to drink the entire pot of coffee, followed by a trip to the closest coffee mart on the way to wherever it is I have to go?

  34. kathy

    I may be frugal but I’m not crazy. We get Coatepec beans (Veracruz state; we live in Mexico) and have our Italian old guy roast them or we double roast (on our stove) Chiapas beans. Our old Italian guy does a Cuban roast that is amazing. Anyway, we pay 90 pesos for a kilo and I guarantee you I’d sell a kid before I ever drank Folgers.

    Last time we were in the US I had my first Starbucks experience. I was so comfuddled that I simply asked for “a normal cup of coffee about yea big” and they dealt.

  35. Cass

    This is so funny. I do the same thing (well when I’m not pregnant) although my judgment skews even farther into Venti category…usually I don’t even notice that I’m twitching. I have a great habit of calling my mom in these situations and she gets all “Cassandra, you really need to calm down on the coffee….you sound like you could be committed or at least doing an auction”.

  36. sumo

    We have a local coffee shop with a sign stating that Starbucks is not spoken there. The fact that they don’t put up with that whole tall, venti, grande BS makes me smile. Q: where does tall mean small? A: In a land where people will pay $4 for a cup of coffee to the tune of $10 billion a year.

    Jeeze, why am I so bitter? I don’t even drink coffee.

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