Cutting Down at Starbucks

I’m a Starbucks junkie.┬áNot because of their coffee quality or any acceptable reason like that (my palate is none too discerning), but because I like that I can pay for coffee with my phone and earn digital stars.

Caveat: as a college student trying to cut back on spending and calories, Starbucks isn’t the best choice for me. I try not to go as often anymore, but it’s difficult to avoid when my school’s campus center has a branch right int the middle (although the long lines usually make me think twice). Anyway, here’s what I do to try to save a buck and a few hundred calories.

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As a coffee newbie several years ago, I broke into the Starbucks scene with their sweet, practically-not-even-coffee Frappuccino line. These drinks are more milkshake than coffee, they are cold and delicious, and they are about $5 each.

While I can take a straight espresso or black coffee once in awhile, it’s not exactly my cup of tea (actually, tea is something I prefer to drink straight most of the time). But $5 for a drink every time I went to Starbucks? Not justifiable. So I switched to caramel iced coffee with milk. With this drink I got the cut in the coffee taste I needed and saved about $2.50.

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Recently I was convinced to start counting calories as a way to regulate intake. I’ll admit it, I overindulge in treats and keeping track of what I consume has been eye-opening (it’s been helping, although it doesn’t always stop me). Remember the caramel iced coffee with milk I so happily switched to? Well, each of those, although about 300 calories less than a Frappuccino, still clocks in at 120 calories (for the grande), which does take a chunk out of my daily allowance.

In order to cut down again, I had a brief flirtation with artificially sweetened Americanos, which cost the same as iced coffee. All the water added didn’t leave a lot of room for milk, which I figured was good anyway as I thought milk was the primary suspect in the calorie count. But, today I figured out I was wrong! It’s not the milk, it’s the caramel syrup they add into the iced coffee (which never really stands out, anyway). I got an unsweetened iced coffee with milk and enjoyed my 40 calorie treat (even calculating with whole milk, the total doesn’t exceed 40 calories for a grande sized drink). Going on to add a packet of artificial sweetener gets the job done just as well as a pre-sweetened ice coffee.

Anyway, that was my Starbucks evolution. I still spend way too much money on pop coffee drinks, but at least now it doesn’t make too much of a dent in my daily calorie allowance. If you need a coffee-esque drink that’ll dent (but not break) the bank, which is sweet(ish) for the less-coffee-minded palate, and which has as few calories as possible at Starbucks, consider an unsweetened iced coffee (with or without milk). If you need something a little stronger you can go the espresso route. Now just don’t get me started on the pound cakes. I’m a lost cause.

Long Absence

So my blog has been functionally dead for some months now, and in the meantime a lot has happened: I graduated with my bachelor degree in computer science; I went home for the summer and had some great diving adventures; and I started my master’s degree in computer science in August.

I drafted a couple of blog posts over the summer, but due to the lack of internet access back home they never saw the light of day. One was a scuba day highlight reel, and the other was a review of a local internet cafe. Not sure if I’ll post either, but I may post some photos from the summer in the near future (once I can dredge them up).

Anyway, I am back, and I’m starting to use a lot of new programming tools and — dare I say — languages in the graduate assistantship I have started. I’d like to talk about that journey in particular, to help myself puzzle out and document everything I’m getting into. That post is forthcoming, but in the meantime, take this image as a hint:

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