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Category Archives: Steep Thoughts

Iced Coffee or Iced Tea?

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I’m totally a coffee gal first thing in the morning. I wish I could make the switch to green tea. I’m sure it would be better for my system but I need the java jolt. In the summer though, if I find myself struggling to focus on work mid-afternoon, I turn to tea. Well, iced tea. I just find it way more refreshing than iced coffee. I especially love iced mint tea. Through work, I’m lucky enough to get a lot of cool, free stuff and recently sampled Numi’s Organic Mint Pu-erh Tea. It’s their green pu-erh tea blended with their Moroccan Mint. Very refreshing! And the pu-erh does wonders for your energy levels.┬áThis is a nice treat, but on a budget, and with an iced tea maker that requires eight bags per pitcher, I usually buy the mint tea that’s on sale. And although I was born and raised in the South (yes, I do consider Louisville, KY the South) I am not a fan of sweet tea. [Insert gasp here.] I take raw sugar and milk in my coffee, but prefer my tea straight up. While my husband drinks his coffee black but likes his tea with so much simple sugar you could stand a wooden spoon up in the pitcher. Go figure. Sweet or unsweet? No there’s a whole different post.

What’s your favorite cold pick-me-up?


BYOM: Bring your own mug.

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How green should I go? Aladdin Recycled and Recyclable Tumbler, $8.99 at

I have been on a serious hiatus for a couple of reasons.

1) I’m horrible at keeping up blogs. I was like this with diaries as a child (see box of semi-started, half-written journals in my closet. Actually, stay out of my closet. That’s creepy). But I’m trying.

2) I’ve had to cut back on my cafe working. As much as I can rationalize it for my sanity and as a well-deserved diversion from my home office or hole I carved out for myself amidst back issues at the open desk at my company’s office, it still costs more to work at a cafe than it does to work at home. I was hoping at this point to have more submissions from others to share in place of my own reviews, but cafe working has not created the buzz I’d hoped… at least not yet! It would help if I could keep up with my posts (see #1).

While typing away in my hole the other day, a coworker shared with me that he can bring his own mug into Malaprop’s (a local Asheville bookstore and cafe) and they’ll fill it for only $1! This opened my eyes to a budget loophole that had been staring me in the face at every coffee shop counter with their handmade price tags. Travel coffee mugs! How many other coffee shops offer severe discounts if you BYOM? Sure, there’s the initial investment and it means lugging around a mug in addition to my water bottle (and diapers and my laptop) but what’s one more straw on this camel’s back? I’m a mom of a toddler, a sherpa with a Subaru.

So with this new awakening, I’m ready to venture back into the world of cafe working, my own mug in hand, and see what it does for my wallet. First, I need to find the right travel mug. So many out there to choose from. Anyone have a favorite? Suggestions?

Is coffee still an affordable luxury?

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According to market reports, the prices for coffee keep rising as does the demand, which means for most people coffee remains an affordable luxury. In other words, an extra five cents per cup isn’t making most of us balk at the counter. But with gut-wrenching gas prices, for those of us country folk who have to drive at least 10 minutes to the closest coffee house, getting there is half the battle.

My son is in preschool two mornings a week (I refuse to call it Mothers’ Morning Out… I’m working, not getting my nails done), and I used to drop him off and park myself at a nearby cafe without batting an eye. But now, even if it means my husband leaving for work an hour earlier, I’ll have him drop off Jed one of those days on his way to save me money on gas and coffee. Even when I drank my coffee at home and drove to our downtown office, I still had to pay for parking. When you factor in the child care and gas, an average morning of cafe working costs me $30. And I have to think about that when I consider that cup of coffee. I wouldn’t call it an affordable luxury, but more of a semi-doable sanity saver.

What does your cafe working time cost you? Do you still consider coffee an affordable luxury?

Lingering guilt.

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How long do you linger after your last sip? The answer is different for everyone.

Empty chai and just bought a bagel for hour #3. Cha-ching!

This morning, I planned to be budget-friendly and work in our downtown office, but I was greeted by my co-worker with bad news–we no longer have wireless. While this is an annoyance to the full-time employees who like to bring their laptops in from home but are also provided with desktops, it’s a downright dealbreaker for me. I have to have wireless. I have no choice. So while I was deciding where to pack up and head off to, my co-worker asked me the question: how long can I stay in one place on one cup of coffee without feeling guilty? I can always stay one hour, no problem. If it’s off peak hours and most tables are empty, I can feel okay about staying for a couple of hours. I have occasionally gotten really into my work and pushed three, but that’s rarely intentional. The last time I did that was at a former favorite haunt. I say “former” because as I was getting up to leave, a guy from the kitchen snidely remarked, “Leaving so soon?”

That did it. Not going back there for awhile. I’m sure he was only joking, but not only was the place empty, I’d also eaten an overpriced egg and cheese biscuit in addition to my coffee plus a generous tip. So I’ll be taking a true coffee break from said coffee house. That’ll show ’em.

I was surprised to find out that my co-worker’s guilt sets in after only 20 or 30 minutes of cafe working. I can’t imagine investing two dollars for a cup of coffee and a place to work only to feel like I needed to get up and move mere minutes later. That’s barely enough time to log on and check your email.

How does your guilt goad you and how long before it sets in? Do you get up and go? Get a refill? Buy something else?