Copyright © 2005 http://TastesOfTheWorld.net A researcher has stirred up the commuter coffee mug with the suggestion that morning rush hour traffic is worsened by stops for daily morning gourmet coffee at Starbucks and other premium coffee houses. Nancy McGuckin, a travel behavior analyst, studied a report called "National Household Travel Survey" by the U.S.
Department of Transportation as the basis for her provocative conclusions. It has long been known that frequent starting and stopping during a commute drastically reduces fuel economy due to the need to rev up the car engine to accelerate to traffic speeds and then stop for traffic lights and accelerate once again. This is the reason why manufacturers estimaged "city" mileage is always significantly lower than the estimated "highway" mileage. In addition, if the engine is turned off and restarted, mileage is decreased significantly, because it is at startup of the car engine that the most fuel is wasted. This behavior is exactly what is required when visiting congested shopping areas on the way to work, find a parking space, (where gourmet coffee shops are often located) stop the engine, return to the car with coffee in hand, restart the engine and make your way back to the highway and finally to work. McGuckin, the travel analyst, dubbed her discovery, "The Starbucks Effect" because during the period she studied, Starbucks added over 4000 new locations (1995 ? 2001).
Although not limiting this research finding only to trips to coffee houses, the research suggests that running additional errands in the morning on the way to work has contributed to traffic congestion and increased gridlock. This is because people divert from the shortest and fastest route, to one that leads them past the coffee house or dry cleaners. The shorter route between home and business office would be much more direct and require fewer bursts of acceleration, engine starts and stops and less frequent visits to crowded shopping areas, which require commuters to search for parking, with trips around the block to find spaces or idling the engine waiting for others to leave spaces nearer the coffee house. Burning small amounts of extra fuel during those waits over and over each day adds up to very significant wasted fuel and lowered mileage over time. Wear and tear on engines increases as this behavior continues, and becomes habitual.
The cost of gourmet coffee at premium coffee houses is also as much as six or seven times the cost of home brewed coffee from premium fresh ground whole bean blends. Coffee houses have either a "house blend" or "featured" blend on brew and you get whatever they have chosen for you. Then your only choice is to elbow your way through the crowds and merge back into the city gridlock to get to work, further slowing traffic and decreasing gas mileage.
A Washington Post article by Catherine Shaver, discusses the commuter study and quotes Alan E. Pisarsky, Author of "Commuting in America" as saying, "It's more of a problem from a traffic point of view than from anything else." Increasing the number of stops in the trip decreases gas mileage and stress levels, while brewing coffee at home can actually save you gas over a relatively short period of time.
Taking fresh brewed coffee from home could actually reduce stress and wear and tear on the car. When brewing your own gourmet coffee blend at home, you have a choice of fresh ground coffee beans from fine Italian Espressos to the rare and exotic Indonesian Kopi Luwak. Commuters can consider making gourmet coffee drinks at home before departing for work and enjoy it at home while spending quality time with the family or take it along in a commuter coffee travel mug. You'll save money by paying less than .30 cents per cup for your favorite gourmet coffee made from fresh ground beans, as well as help to reduce gridlock and increase mileage by taking the fastest route to work instead of detouring to the coffee shop.
By: Mike Banks Valentine