Anthony had the most angelic set of kinky golden curls I’d ever laid eyes on. All it took was one compliment on them and his magenta blush and I was in, set for life. We quickly developed a special relationship: I was a junkie and Anthony was my dealer.
I was addicted to organic, fair-trade coffee, and he brewed the best espresso on the Upper West Side.
“Girl, you know I love you, but if I were a real bartender, I would have cut you off weeks ago. Do you have any idea how much you spend here?” I appreciated his concern, but I was in a hurry for class and he was taking his sweet time topping off my latte and counting my change.
“Ant, just gimme the cup and I won’t tell Madge about those ‘missing’ double-fudge brownies in your handbag.”
The quarter and penny slapped against the stack of “Perks” cards sitting in my wallet. In addition to Anthony’s cafe of employment, I held Coffee Club cards from Whole Foods, a local deli, and another small NYC gourmet coffee chain. Each were one stamp away from my free cup. None were a first-time membership.
I quickly did the math. Ant was right to be embarrassed for me — I was spending, on average, $12 a day for coffee. When I measured my monthly caffeine expenditure against my monthly college student income, I understood why I no longer had a shoe fund. It was time to seek help.
Luckily for me, this economic epiphany coincided with a home-sale at Bloomingdale’s. Rather than quit the bean cold-turkey, I decided to reinvest my coffee stocks.
I bounced home from the Lexington Avenue department store with a french press, a DeLonghi espresso machine with built-in milk frother, a pound of course-ground medium roast, and a can of Lavazza espresso. I was out about $250, but had enough supplies to get me through 3 months of caffeine consumption. Despite accumulating some credit card debt, in the long haul, I was scheduled to come out ahead.
I knew Anthony was going to miss me, but Gary, the shoe guy at Saks, was glad to finally have me back.