The Thermos Factor

My piggy bank.
My piggy bank.

I visited a colleague?s office the other morning and there, gleaming on his desk, was what I assumed was a new-fangled martini shaker. He must have noticed my raised eyebrow and quickly explained that the chrome-colored container was a thermos and not evidence that he prefers his breakfast shaken, not stirred.

My colleague explained that he had recently crunched the numbers on the so-called ?Latte Factor? and realized he was drinking over a $1,000 of caffeine outsourced to Starbucks per annum. Though this is great for Starbucks shareholders, it?s terribly wasteful for new businesses such as his and ? gulp ? mine, especially in a flailing economy.

Personal finance guru David Bach?s site,, lays out some impressive numbers of what one might save by forgoing the one?s quotidian fix of brand name mud (nearly $100,000 given a few decades and some financial jujitsu). I?m admittedly more impressed by shiny objects and what they confer, however, than mere numbers. I remember when every eco-and-health-conscious person I knew upgraded their hard plastic water bottles to gleaming aluminum bottles during what my wife and her ilk refer to as ?the BPA scare of 2005.? Those who refused to relinquish their plastic bottles were stigmatized like smokers and were similarly treated to choruses of ?You?re going to get cancer.?

The trend toward vessels of gleaming steel seems to have overtaken thermoses as well. Long gone are the plastic lunchbox thermoses of my youth, emblazoned with the Six Million Dollar Man and various iterations of Star Wars. While I was ruining my savings potential, not to mention the environment, with lattes to-go, thermoses had apparently evolved into sleek columns of ergonomic product design. At about $20, the investment only takes a only 0.02% sip of the 100 grand you?ll save. That said, I?ve evolved into a cost-conscious creative entrepreneur too frugal to spend even a pittance of my projected coffee savings on a shiny thermos. To wit, I stole my wife?s old Stanley ?Alladdin? model industrial grade thermos ? a mortar shell-sized vessel that appears to be made of the same material as airliner ?black boxes.? After the nuclear holocaust it?s just going to be roaches and Stanley thermoses left to rebuild civilization. Stanley knows this, which accounts for their online product registry ? if somehow those records survive, so will some little part of you. Or at least your thermos. I?m going to engrave my name into mine for this very chance at posterity. Or perhaps I should hold out for the Stanley martini shaker-thermos combo?