How Large Is Your Latte

So Waitrose have caused a stir by announcing that they’re going to stop supplying disposable cups with their free coffee. Now, these days they are most often my takeaway coffee of choice, so clearly I’m going to have to jump on the bandwagon and start carrying a reusable cup. And that of course is where it starts to get complicated.

Now technically I already own one reusable cup; it’s a Starbucks one, used for peppermint lattes on long journeys, but it gets too hot to hold without the little cardboard sleeve so it’s less useful outside of a Starbucks. So perhaps an everyday cup is in order, ideally one that will also seal in the dregs when I put it back in my bag.

Now in the last few months there have been myriad reusable coffee cup reviews and comparisons so it didn’t take me long to narrow my preference down to either the KeepCup or the Ecoffee cup. In the process however I became aware that I would have to make another decision – how big a cup to buy.

Waitrose had only said “bring your own cup” and that it needed to fit in their machine*. So I contacted them to ask both the size of the regular latte from the machine but also the size of the large, which they sell in their cafe. After talking to them via customer services and Twitter I finally established that a regular coffee is apparently 8 fl oz and a large one is 10 fl oz (although the disposable cups they use are much bigger).

But by now I was considering the bigger picture. My main alternative coffee supplier is Costa, but I’m not hugely fussy, I’ll buy a coffee wherever is convenient, so I started comparing coffee sizes and prices.

Naturally I made a little spreadsheet so here are the highlights. Coffee sizes vary widely but in general a regular coffee is 12 fl oz. Caffe Nero and Greggs also do a large at 14 fl oz whereas Starbucks and Costa will super size you at either 16 or 20 fl oz (I rarely need a pint of coffee).

Obviously, the cheapest coffee is free from Waitrose but astonishingly the most expensive would be a large coffee from Waitrose if you have to pay for it.

After free Waitrose coffee, Greggs and Costa are cheapest. Allowing for the discount for bringing your own cup doesn’t change much except that Pret is now cheaper than Costa (that’s because Pret gives you 50 pence off as opposed to Costa’s 25 pence). Caffe Nero give you ‘bonus stamps’ on their loyalty card, I only allowed for the one extra coffee that gets you when calculating the discount (so not including the ordinary loyalty stamps).

If you want value for money in volume then large coffees are generally better than regular ones and again, obviously, don’t pay for coffee in Waitrose!

Where does that leave me? Well, despite the lure of the ‘value for money’ argument of a larger coffee, I think a 12 fl oz cup would be big enough for an everyday coffee cup. Now I just have to choose the design I want.

*Waitrose reckon 15cm is the maximum cup height that fits in their machines.

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Flex 2 vs Vivosmart 3 – An Unlikely Comparison

So at the moment I’m walking around with two fitness devices on my wrist. Why? Because having just bought a Garmin Vivosmart 3 it seemed like a good opportunity to compare it with the Fitbit Flex 2 I’ve been using for the last year or more.

Now these aren’t devices that usually get rated against each other but my primary criteria puts them both in the same category; they monitor steps and sleep, have a silent alarm, receive call and text notifications, are waterproof and importantly both are small enough not to be bulky on a small wrist (and are moderately priced).
The Garmin also provides a screen and some more sensors which I’ll mention later.
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What The Supermarkets Are Telling Me

Voucher For Fifteen PenceI don’t shop in supermarkets often. I’m not responsible for the ‘weekly shop’ in our house and even that is often delivered by Ocado. However I do intermittently shop in a variety of supermarkets and even possess loyalty cards for some of them. Recently however I’ve noticed a trend that I do not like.

You see there are a variety of supermarkets available and I’m well aware that they stock very similar items at often very different prices. I’ve become well accustomed to the random shopping trolley at the entrance and the sign proclaiming that this week they are cheaper than [insert any supermarket here] for [insert some random selection of items]. I’ve always imagined that this data was acquired by sending some poor [supermarket A] employee out in the cold to [supermarket B] to compare and note down prices of [some random selection of items]. So the data was inaccurate, out of date, but at least they were trying to provide the best value for money they could*.

Imagine my surprise when shopping at Tesco (and here I’m prepared to name and shame) when upon completing my shopping the till spat out, along with my receipt, a voucher which said “Today your comparable grocery shopping would have been cheaper elsewhere. So here’s the difference back”. Er, no, actually here is a voucher which will now clutter up my purse and/or my house until I can do something with it.

Still irritated at this, only a few days later, I happened to pass a Sainsbury’s store and needing a few items for a picnic I decided to pop in. On completing my shopping I was again astounded to receive a voucher which said that I would have paid less at Asda or Tesco and so here was a voucher for fifteen pence off my next shop.

So let me get this straight, at the till these supermarkets can tell that I could have got my shopping more cheaply elsewhere and instead of saying:

“This shopping would have been fifteen pence cheaper in another supermarket so we’re discounting it right here to ensure that you get the best value you can.”

They are saying:

“We have ripped you off to the tune of fifteen pence, so here is a voucher that we think makes it look like we care about this while simultaneously knowing that this voucher will end up lost, forgotten, expired or eaten by the dog and that you will therefore be unable to reclaim the fifteen pence we have stolen from you today. Thank you for your custom.”

Now I’m sure that they have accountants who have assured them that this policy will make them money and possibly even market researchers who have told them that this policy will be well received but here’s the thing, from now on I’m going to make a deliberate attempt to go to supermarkets that don’t do this to me. Morrison’s perhaps, or Waitrose who don’t pretend to be the cheapest and even better will give me free coffee.

No, I don’t for an instant think the supermarkets will care or even notice but it will make me a lot less irritated at the till and avoid the need for me to carry scraps of paper endlessly around with me.
After all, every little helps.

*I’m not actually naive enough to believe this but wouldn’t it be nice if this were true?

Pondering Getting Fit The Lazy Way

I’d like to be fitter. Not ‘running a marathon’ fit but more just a little all-round fitter.
We do have a Wii and indeed Wii Fit Plus but these days it always seems as though I’d have to throw somebody out of the lounge to use it. So wouldn’t it be a good idea to make more of my everyday activities and try and measure them and therefore motivate myself to extend them. With this in mind I started doing some research into what technical toys would help me with this because a) I’m a geek and b) how better to avoid actually doing any exercise than Googling about it. I started with the FitBit because I’d heard them mentioned quite a lot recently. Continue reading