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($$$ – $$ – $) on Coffee

The first month of college was a blur of activity, yet each day dragged on slowly. The nights get later and the homework piles grow bigger. And the temptation of the deliciously bitter (for those lovers of dark/black) or sweet (for sugar fanatics like myself) coffee grows stronger. As the weather grows chillier, a hot cup of coffee is perfect for spreading warmth through your body as the caffeine invigorates you.

So where do you buy that cup of Joe? At Tuft’s very own Brown & Brew? At Hodgdon Good-To-Go? Getting one or more cups of coffee a day adds up. But you think $4 at a local Starbucks is expensive? Think again!

Ever heard of a civet? It’s a mammal that is native to Indonesia and other areas of Southeast Asia. He feeds on coffee berries and his fecal matter makes up the most expensive coffee available in the world. That’s right, after spending a day and a half in the digestive track of a civet, kopi luwak is the real gem of the coffee world. According to coffee aficionados, the internal digestion process adds a unique blend of flavors (who would have thought?) to the coffee beans. Kopi luwak is available in the United States at a high price—the most expensive reaching about US $600 for a pound of coffee beans. It has made the menu in a few cafes, and is usually priced around US $50-$75. The high price tag is generally due to the difficulty in collecting, extracting, and (intensely) cleaning the coffee beans as well as the low quantity produced. That cup of Starbucks isn’t looking too expensive now, is it?

Maybe coffee made from fecal matter isn’t fit for your taste. How about let’s stick to the coffee generally deemed ‘expensive’ by everyday folks like myself. Coming from the suburbs of New York City, I have seen the reality of a Starbucks on every corner. Seeing one over and over really calls to you; you can’t get away from it so you can’t stop thinking about it. A cup of your favorite beverage at Starbucks probably averages around US $4-$5, but now you can simply justify that because it’s not as kopi luwak, right? A tall (12 oz) cup of coffee is already $2, sizing up to a grande (16 oz) puts it close to $3. That may not seem like much, but on average the coffee drinkers in America consume about 3 cups a day. That’s at least $6 dollars of Starbucks a day, which is about $2200 spent on coffee within a year (assuming daily consumption). Maybe those Starbucks lovers out there are reconsidering their provider of caffeinated beverages, hm?

If you’re looking for a cheap caffeine fix, McDonald’s might actually be your best bet! A 12 oz cup averages around $1 and has been ranked above Starbuck’s coffee in some taste tests. It is made from 100% Arabic beans and the coffee cup advertises it as “Premium Roasted.” At about $1100 for an entire year, McDonald’s coffee is a considerable amount cheaper than other options as long as you don’t go on purchasing other food along with the coffee. That way you’ll save money and keep off the pounds.

Ultimately, the taste test is up to you! Does a sugary McDonald’s coffee satisfy your caffeine needs or are you willing to up the price tag for Starbuck’s coffee? Whatever your preference, there are many places around Tufts University that may brew a cup to your taste. If your taste is expensive and you want a unique and exotic experience, there is always the kopi luwak. As for myself, I prefer the free coffee in Dewick—mainly because it’s free—but sometimes I’ll indulge on a nice frappuccino from Starbucks.

Christina Pan

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