Why the very thought of Starbuck’s former CEO Howard Schultz running – as an independent (sick of both parties) – speaks volumes about here in the “Land of Losing It.”

We’ll skip the politics. part.  What concerns me is that as of 2018, Schultz had a net worth of $3-billion 300-million bucks.  Sprinkle of gold on that?

Schultz made his pile, in part I think, because one of the key social indicators of a pending collapse is the rise of “coffeehouse society.”

Tucked away in the Wikipedia entry on “Coffeehouses” what we find is a hint why more people aren’t as alarmed as we are about the recent rise in beaning-up…

“The espresso bar is a type of coffeehouse that specializes in coffee drinks made from espresso. Originating in Italy, the espresso bar has spread throughout the world in various forms. Prime examples that are internationally known are Starbucks Coffee, based in Seattle, Washington, U.S., and Costa Coffee, based in Dunstable, UK, (the first and second largest coffeehouse chains respectively), although the espresso bar exists in some form throughout much of the world. “

Did you catch it?  Name change!  So, we can now head into Google territory and start looking up data.  I use raw search results because they are very useful when dimensioning an historical concept.

Search Term                    Count

  • 1920 espresso bar         6.54-million
  • 1920 coffeehouse          2.16-million
  • 1920 coffee shop           51.2-million

Now lets look at data sets for 10-years after (no musical pun intended…or was there…)

  • 1930 espresso bar          3.41-million
  • 1930 coffeehouse          0.993-million
  • 1930 coffee shop            37.6 million

Essentially, what the search results infer about history is that we shouldn’t be too surprised to see coffee dispensaries getting whacked when times get tough.

Here, I’ll concede that Schultz “in-and-out” was extraordinarily well-timed!

We notice that coffee shop hits didn’t dissolve away as quickly.  The reason?  They offered a lot more than a cup of joe.  When the Depression hit, people were looking for value.  When you don’t have much money to spend, you look for the maximum mileage from each penny.

We can do a parallel-concept search, too.  Take a concept like lunch counters, for example.

  • lunch counter 1920          6.96 million
  • lunch counter 1930          6.77-million

Which to us is rather remarkable – and useful in foretelling the future.  Because, once again, it hints that on our current rhyming of history, we might well see a transition in coming times.  In it, we’d expect the food angle to coffeehouses to become much more important and just an over-priced cuppa…

Interestingly, the same approach to history (working the data sets) reveals other interesting insights into how people modify their behavior when times are hard.  Here’s a data set that offers, at least the notion, that people are looking for comfort food more in a Depression that in the pre-bubble times:

  • 1920 soda fountain        1.64-million
  • 1930 soda fountain         3.8-million

And one more for the class:

  • 1920 ice cream               38.5-million
  • 1930 ice cream                26.1-million

Does this mean that a new dessert fad (think Twinkies!) will arrive?  Or, is it an indication that people took their guilty pleasures of the table away from home.  Perhaps not to appear uppity or spendthrift?  We’d a time machine, but data like this exploration offers, gives us a new angle to history.

That’s the “Racket” – Now Hot to Beat It

Star with this 2015 article on Fox offering 9 hacks to save money at Starbucks.  Good advice.


A couple of years ago, I started brewing my own coffee and putting it into a larger thermos.

Thing is, I have what to me is an ideal balance now.

I start with a $15 Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator.  In it, I place a scoop and a half of Folgers or Maxwell House (whatever I feel like) because unless you have a real taste for over-roasted and bitter, coffee is coffee is coffee.

When the “8 cups” (and part of the racket is that a “cup” of coffee is anything from a small demitasse to 6-ounces) is done, I pour myself a 10-ounce mug (an I the only one who hates small mugs?) and the rest goes into my $36.50 Thermos Work Series 40 Ounce Beverage Bottle, Gunmetal Gray.  (Hmmm…didn’t put the top on straight, lol…)

If there is any left in the pot – and there’s usually a bit because I overfill the pot a bit – that’s the second half-cup.  Since the “strong stuff” will keep dripping down, this higher-octane is watered down with super-filtered water and then reheated in the microwave for 40-second.


Now the key part:  I only make coffee every other day.

The second morning, the coffee is still warmish (but certainly not “hot” by any stretch.  But that’s perfect to slug down the morning’s pill stack (supplements).  After the stack wash-down, the cup it topped off and 50-seconds in the ‘wave is enough to get it lawsuit-scalding hot.

This crazy system of mine does several things.

  • Since I know too much caffeine will trigger PVC’s (think heart palps) I don’t drink more than 1.5 cups per day.
  • The coffee perc’s while I work, so I spend maybe 3-minutes total time in the brewing and pouring.
  • I go through a 3-honest pound container of coffee about every 45-60 days.  So what’s that?  $10-bucks a month in raw material costs, no gas, no lines, no hanging around hoards of people (some of whom will have3 colds and flu this time of year…).
  • I figure a service life of 2-years on the Thermos and coffee pot which together totaled about $50-bucks…so $25 a year in “manufacturing equipment.”
  • All in, then, we have $25 for equipment and $120 in coffee so less than $150 per year.

Now let’s see how that stacks up with people who go to a bean dispensary:

Figure (with tip) 3-bucks a cup.  Two cups a day makes it $6.00

And done 365-days a year?  My friend, that’s a  $2,190 a year habit!

I don’t know about you, but around here we keep a few months ahead on the canned coffee.  With all the trees around here and the rocket stoves I won’t be missing my coffee – and the brew-every-other-day works just fine.

$150 a year or $2,190 (not counting muffins, lol) seems like a pretty simple choice to make.

We live in a world where everything – sex, weather, politics, coffee – is monetized.  Consider allowing yourself to be pleasantly surprised by how much more cost-effective some of the old ways are…

Elaine, as always, have an even cheaper way:  “I just don’t drink coffee…” 

“Who’s going to monetize THAT, dear?”


Write when you wake up,


Power in the Second Depression (Ch. 3)
Housing Data Softens in November