In Defense of Buying Iced Coffee

by Jamie Keiles

Ahh, summertime. Love is in the air, fall clothes are in the stores, every blog you read is posting some hard-hitting stuff about how you can save a bunch of money by putting regular coffee in the fridge. Iced coffee! Summertime’s elixir of life!

If your summer is a June through August affair, and you buy an iced coffee for $2.75 every day, you’ll have spent about $250 by the time fall comes around (or, if you prefer, you’ll have spent almost a full workweek’s gross pay at federal minimum wage; the price of 1.3 limited view tickets to Jay-Z/Justin Timberlake’s Legends of Summer Tour at Soldier Field in Chicago; or 9% of my total summer income).

But it’s worth it.

This is my first summer of financial independence and I’ve been thinking a lot about non-monetary value and what it means to “treat yourself.” I love iced coffee. Every year I thirst through a long Chicago winter of normative coffee until finally, in late March, the ice moves from outside to inside and I am granted the pleasure of enjoying my beverage of choice chilled. In the beginning of this summer, I was living the blog life, chilling my own iced coffee in a pitcher in the fridge.

But: After two weeks of allegedly SAVING A FORTUNE, I realized that I don’t like iced coffee that much, at least not when it comes from my own kitchen, even though it tastes exactly the same.

What I’m realizing is that the things that are best about iced coffee have nothing to do with coffee, and everything to do with experience of buying it. There lot of non-monetary externalities that make treating yourself worthwhile. Some justification:

1. I work alone all day in what is functionally a closet. This considered, iced coffee from a store isn’t only a drink but also a reason to go somewhere and be around other people for 15 minutes to a half-hour. This is definitely sanity preserving, and maybe increases productivity in the afternoon? Not sure. Either way I think this social interaction has some kind of authentic value.

2. One iced coffee is basically equal to one nice sunshine-flooded stroll around the block. How lovely and refreshing to mosey through the great outdoors on a workday! Invaluable.

3. This is obvious, but iced coffee makes you more awake. I know we aren’t supposed to talk about or glorify our vices and/or poor sleep habits, but in general it is nice to know that there is a legal, relatively affordable means of feeling more awake during the day.

4. Iced coffee makes you poop. This is the most important one. The means to regularity at every corner deli and coffee shop? Worth it.

Jamie Keiles lives in Chicago. Photo: Ian Buchanan

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