The Five Thousand Pound Coffee Cup

This isn’t the story of the latest discovery on the Antiques Roadshow where a vaguely cup shaped item that was bought at a jumble sale for 25p in 1972 or was given to ‘nana’ by an oriental gentleman sometime back in the 1930s turns out to be genuine Qing dynasty and gets the startled owner straight on the phone to Sotherby’s.

Rather it is a is the story of a stainless steel insulated mug that was bought five years ago for the princely sum of £1.99 which despite having no historic or cultural significance, (although almost certainly ‘Made in China’), turns out has been worth £5000 to me.

Let the train take the strain

I commute to work in Gloucester from Birmingham by train, it’s an early start but after five years I am pretty well organised in the mornings. The journey is only forty-six minutes, I have had my breakfast. I do not need a cup of tea on the train. Why then does the sound of the trolley provoke the Pavlovian response – I’m thirsty, I cannot possibly wait for a hot drink until I get to the office.

So here’s where the coffee mug comes in. A cup of CrossCountry coffee is £2.30, which makes it £4.60 a day (yes, I get the same cravings on the way home). Even after allowing for annual leave, bank holidays and various work related excursions, that’s potentially 440 cuppas a year – at a whopping £1000 give or take a cup.

I appreciate that it isn’t as simple a calculation as it sounds. There is the cost of the raw materials, coffee, milk; electricity to heat the water and to wash up. But this is minimal compared with the cost on the train, and there also the added bonus of 440 paper cups that aren’t heading for landfill.

You might ask, would I really buy a hot drink on every trip? If I had to physically pay for it? Well, quite possibly, plenty of my fellow commuters do.

Don’t get me wrong, I do frequent coffee shops, and while I’m not one for the whole Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato scene you can’t beat putting the world to rights with a good mate over a medium skinny latte and a toasted tea-cake. Just not twice a day.

Show me the money

The question that always arises in articles like this, if you have saved £5000 do you have anything to show for it? Over the years saving is something I have learnt to do, I work for a Credit Union, I am supposed to walk the talk. But I also know that saving money isn’t as easy as spending it, certainly in the world of contactless and digital payments. But all those cuppas can add up to a holiday or a car or maybe just a little less month at the end of the money.

So if like me you can’t cope without your caffeine fix on your commute, why not treat yourself to a travel mug this weekend, it might be the best investment you ever make.