The Dangers of the Espresso Machine

“Every ride in Greenville is basically centered around a climb”.
Thats the advice I was given this past Saturday whist embarking on a new route with some of the local mafia. At that point, Brian Hill and Chris Butler probably had enough with my questions as to what roads go where, what roads to avoid, and how to avoid an out and back. I really hate out-and-back rides but until I master the backroads of upstate South Carolina, out-and-backs will have to suffice.

Caesars Head, The Divide, Paris, Watershed, Camp Old Indian, Green River Cove, Jones Gap, Mt. Olivet, Sassafras. There are a lot of climbs out here and they have been kicking my spandex clad rear end since I arrived. However, the enemy is not just the average 6 to 12% gradients. Its Andy’s Jura espresso machine.
At first, I was excited to find that the machine had taken permanent residence for general use in the kitchen. The machine clacks and whirs and rumbles then magically produces perfect espresso in two elegant streams straight into your waiting chalice of choice. No heating water, no grinding and measuring, no pouring, a baby could work this thing. Or a barely awake, half dead cyclist who has just stumbled into the kitchen. However, now, I am quite skeptical of the Jura.

Lets, for a moment, take a look at the economics of coffee drinking. A simple supply and demand chart should suffice; and for those who are getting flashbacks of monotone teachers and GDP, do not be frightened. Just look.

Wait, let me grab a quick cup of coffee.
Ahh. Thats much better.
Lets assume that the demand for coffee stays the same and the supply is what changes based on how you make your coffee. The red line shows the supply of coffee from Andy’s Jura. The Jura makes only one cup at a time and you pay for your coffee using time. The more cups you make, the more time you ‘pay’ making coffee. The blue line represents a French Press. It takes a lot more time to boil water, grind the beans, and let it all steep but after you do it, the French Press yields more than one cup of coffee. For most, one pot of French Press is enough. And even if it isn’t, the time it takes to make another pot is quite a deterrent. Notice that both the red and blue lines intersect with the black demand line. (For those who had the flashbacks of monotone professors and GDP, this is the point of equilibrium, the sweet spot). The black line indicates that most people will drink more coffee if it is easier to make (aka cheaper). So the main point to take from this graph is that people with a Jura will inevitably drink more coffee compared with those who have a standard, yet equally classy, French Press. This point is beautifully illustrated by the two dotted lines.
“Whats the big problem Alder? I love coffee! And since economists are constantly concerned with efficiency, isn’t the Jura more efficient and therefore better since it takes less time to make more coffee?” Excellent question my over-caffeinated friend. It also highlights the problem with the Jura: drinking too much coffee! More coffee, more caffeine, more jittery, why is my heart rate 150 bpm and I’m just rolling out of the drive way?! However, to be entirely honest, its not my fault, or a lack of self control, as to why I am drinking more coffee; its economics. And you can’t argue with a pretty graph or equilibrium.
While I recognize the evils of Andy’s Jura, I can’t seem to stop using it. Its just so easy! I have three options:
1. Quit coffee. Next.
2. Drink more coffee to get my body used to more caffeine. Takes too much time.
3. Start drinking coffee an hour before ride time.
For the time being, I have chosen number 3. The graph assumes that I have all the time in the world to sit and drink coffee. But, if I limit the time I spend drinking coffee, I can then limit my intake. Its not a perfect system, but my heart rate in the driveway is back down to 80.



One thought on “The Dangers of the Espresso Machine

  1. Your economic model has a fatal flaw in that you have assumed coffee from an espresso machine is a perfect substitute for coffee at of a French press…

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