Friday, May 6, is the official beginning of summer -- at least from a Starbucks' customer's perspective. That's because it's the first day of a ten-day celebration of the Frappuccino.

"Frappuccino Happy Hours"
will run from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. local time in participating Starbucks stores, during which all Frappuccino iced coffee beverages will be half-price. If you're ever-so eager to take advantage of the offer every single day, just text MIXIT to 44264 for a daily text message reminder (of course, your text messaging rates are your own concern).

It's really in Starbucks' best interest to get its customers worked into a daily sugar frenzy in expectation of a summer of Frappuccino buying. The months between seasonal winter drinks (think eggnog lattes and holiday blend coffees) and summer (think iced mochas and Vivanno smoothies) are long and dreary for the coffee giant, and the Frappuccino, as Howard Schultz repeated over and over in his recent hoo-rah business book, Onward, was the innovative caffeinated success that put Starbucks on the map and added years of oomph to its growth stock story. In other words: You drink it, and Starbucks investors will keep on flocking Seattle-ward.And low prices won't be the only inducement to help customers to used to a daily diet of afternoon frothy iced coffees: Starbucks has also announced it will be unveiling "however you want it" Frappuccinos (any sort of milk, any syrup or flavoring, any topping, any amount or "intensity" of coffee), much like the vast variety of latte options now available. And the company is bringing back the coconut mocha flavor, along with the coffee-free coconut creme variety for kids and those who don't care much for the flavor of coffee but who still love a good afternoon "coffee" break.

A daily Frappuccino habit is an easy one to settle into, especially as the days get longer and hotter and one feels more in need of a little sweet indulgence. As the sun sets ever later, we tend to eat dinner later and it often takes more of a pick-me-up to tide us over during an afternoon of hard work and hot sun (or, as the case may be, lounging and barbecue-tending and end-of-school celebrations).

But don't forget that treats offered at half price still add up: Those two-dollar Frappuccino Happy Hours drinks could turn into a $400 or $500 summer habit -- and that's per person, tip not included. Do not go unexamined into that good summertime!

If you're already spending your daily treat budget at Starbucks and you know you can afford it (and you can pay cash), don't deny yourself. But there are plenty of other ways to indulge yourself with cool summer treats that cost far less. I love a fruity iced team, so I'll buy my favorite tea bags or loose tea and make half-gallon jars every day or so to keep in the fridge, depending on the temperature. This process from Simple Bites is my go-to method; it takes less than a minute each night and is both reliable and icy. The post above also includes a cold-brewed coffee method (the preferred brewing technique for many coffee enthusiasts).

And while the amount of sugar in a typical Frappuccino may get you buzzed for a half-hour or so, it isn't very healthy. Thanks to the summertime availability of fresh, ripe fruit, you could get far better results in a healthier way from indulging in whatever your local farmers have available at grocery stores or farmer's markets near you. The frequency and quantity of farmer's markets has increased so much in many cities that you'll probably have something within a mile or two of your home once or twice a week. And if you're in a rural area, I hope you're lucky enough to have fruit growing in your property or nearby -- plenty to get you your pick-me-up of strawberries or plums or cherries or peaches to give you energy and nutrients, too -- for the same price or even less than that icy treat at Starbucks.

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