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Suburban Island

Latte Heaven
Friday, Feb. 20, 2004, 8:22 a.m.

QUESTIONS: Latte anyone?

WHAT I LEARNED: Kids - never underestimate the value of a good cost benefit analysis.

After being out sick for a week, certain things just need to be done. First, of course, is turning back up at work. I like my work but after a week off, my TO DO list is like a pile up on a freeway right before the fog lifts. But aside from being really busy, this week went well. I got a good evaluation from my manager as part of our annual review process, which makes me smile ear to ear because I did work my ass off last year - figuratively speaking. My ass still needs some work from a non-figurative viewpoint. Enough said on that point.

This week is complicated by the fact that I am traveling for work today and although I have to leave the house in 2 1/2 hours, I haven't packed. Instead, I am sitting here writing a diary entry and thinking about what I am going to read on the plane. I like to buy my reading material at the airport. It increases the weight of my carry ons but it makes flying more of a literary adventure.

The other big event that occured this week is that we bought an espresso maker on the first day of the Starbuck's big annual sale on coffee making equipment or coffee technology as I like to refer to it. This purchase was prompted by a brief sales presentation by my daughter who forced me out of my state of financial denial by computing our monthly outlay in the area of espresso drinks - a 7 day a week habit for us. At an average of $3.50 a pop it became very clear before her fingers stopped pressing the calculator keys that my daughter was right. We really did NEED an espresso machine. We go through latte drinks at an astounding pace. Making our caramel macchiatos, caffe mochas, irish creme or toffee nut lattes at home will pay for the cost of the machine in no time flat. I told my husband. He was a little shocked as he is a black coffee kind of guy but you can't stand in the way of latte makers on a roll.

I drove off to the coffee shop thinking latte thoughts. Starbuck's didn't know it yet but it was about to lose one small drop in its revenue stream.

As soon as I pushed through the glass doors of the store I saw it - there on a shelf with a nice sale sign just beneath it - was the machine. It was a candy apple red stainless steel beauty. And it was the only candy red stainless steel model in the store on the first day of the big sale. So I bought the display model and got another 20% off the sale price. I was feeling financial responsible as I shelled out the dollars for this serious countertop appliance. When I got home we cleaned off the counters, rearranged our kitchen appliances and created a little espresso corner for our new brewing wonder. I got a clean kitchen and a latte command center all in one. Everybody gathered around and admired it and in the kitchen light the candy apple red gleam of the stainless steel was the object of everyone's admiration. Even my husband - the black coffee guy - had to say that it was a pretty amazing sight. Mission accomplished.

Last night we took the big leap and put the Starbuck's Barista Espresso Machine through its paces. I watched the instructional video that was stashed in the water tank of the machine. I flipped through the manual. I conjured up memories of the hundreds of lines I have personally stood in so that I could say - grande white chocolate mocha skim no whip or tall caramel macchiato extra caramel please. Starting up this perfectly beautiful machine was a little intimidating. I have never made a drink that required so much concerted effort. But make it I did - steamed milk and all. And the result? Delicious.

Savings in the last 24 hours - about $15.

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