Why We Bought the Starbucks Mug Last Year and Won’t This Year

Their cup runneth over.

“Starbucks says they are going to start putting religious quotes on cups. The very first one will say, ‘Jesus! This cup is expensive!'”
–Conan O’Brien

Last year at Christmas, Santa brought me and my wife two Starbucks mugs which were good for unlimited brewed coffee during the month of January. Santa had commissioned Howard Schultz (the chairman of Starbucks) to provide the mugs at $20 apiece, and he stuffed the mugs in his sleigh.

For us, the $20 was a good price for the mugs and worth the expense.

  • We needed new travel mugs. We always make a cup of coffee in the morning before walking the dog, and we usually go through eight to ten travel mugs before needing to run the dishwasher.
  • It wasn’t that much more expensive than making coffee at home. Coffee at home costs abut $0.38 per cup to make and, assuming that a generic travel mug would cost $5, we were paying about $0.50 per cup of coffee. That’s $0.12 per day additional that we were paying.
  • We lived very near a Starbucks. There was a Starbucks on the route that we took for a dog walk, so we weren’t going out of our way to go to a Starbucks.
  • We were going to be at home the entire month of January. We had no travel planned, so we would be able to use the mugs every day, and sometimes, we’d probably use them twice in a day.

Today, I saw that Starbucks is again offering the unlimited coffee mug for the month of January; however, this time, it’s $30. We are going to pass on the deal this time.

  • We no longer live near a Starbucks. Since we moved to Texas, the closest Starbucks is about six miles away and a fifteen minute drive. So, to take advantage of the offer, we’d have to burn up gas and spend 30 minutes of driving.
  • The mug is more expensive. Last year, the mug was $20. This year, the mug is $30. The breakeven in cups of coffee just got a lot higher, and it makes more sense for us to make coffee at home. Plus, to me, the coffee I make at home (thanks to my Aeropresss coffee maker) is much better than what I can get at Starbucks.
  • We won’t be at home the entire month. We’ll be back in Charlottesville for the first week, and I may be on the road the last week. I just can’t envision getting the full value out of the mug this year.

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Jason Hull was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business. He held a CFP certification from 2015 - 2021. You can read more about him in the About Page. If you live in Johnson County, Texas or the surrounding areas, he and his wife are cash buyers of Johnson County, Texas houses.

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