Monday, April 23, 2007

Investment In Coffee Pays Off: A Bull In A Coffee Shop!

This may sound a lot like Long or Short's schtick, but since I am a huge fan of their market research, I suppose it's understandable. Think of this as an hommage to their work.

Every morning my office mate goes to the Starbucks across the street for his Grande Café Americano. Sometimes I’ll give him $2.75 in change to pick up one for me. The reason I say sometimes is not that I am ambivalent about coffee. Quite the opposite, I am such a full-blown addict that I maintain a coffee maker in the office galley brewed so strong that nobody else I work with will touch it, even the guy from Turkey. But sometimes I feel like a cup from Starbucks in addition to my pot of brewed evil.

My point, and I did have one, is this: Last Monday, I gave my buddy two bucks, seventy five cents to pick me up a Grande Café Americano, and he returned with both my coffee, and my change. The morning barrista has a bit of a thing for him, and in return for some flirtatious chitchat, she comped him the second coffee. This scenario replayed itself every day last week and again today. I’d give him my change, and he’d come back with both my change and my coffee. I know he’s not just paying for it himself, because a) he’d tell me, and b) his coffee-buying trips are about five minutes longer than they were before Barrista X (I don’t know her name) took a shine to him, so the extra banter would explain the time difference.

If every dollar (or two dollars and seventy-five cents, to be exact) I threw into the market paid the same return (2-1 ROI, returned daily) that the coffee change from the upper drawer of my desk has, I would be writing this from a beach in Fiji, instead of a hip, trendy office just a few blocks off a hip trendy district that just happens to be a short jump from the Arctic Circle.

My strategy is this: as long as my buddy keeps going for coffee I’m going to let it roll. Even when the streak ends because a) he’s got a toothache and doesn’t feel like making conversation that morning, or (more likely) b) her supervisor catches her and gives her the sack I’ll still get the coffee I paid for, which will be a 1-1 transaction. So you can say that I am Long Charm, as long as it is leveraged against a cute college-age barrista chick with a few extra piercings who needs a little boost in self-esteem to make it through six dronelike hours of pouring lattes.

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