5 World-Class Vices for Less Than $5

The problem with people who have no vices is that, generally, you can be sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.

-Elizabeth Taylor


Dolfin 88% cacao Belgian dark chocolate — the best in the world and incredibly inexpensive

In life, as in relationships, the small things are the big things. The good life isn’t the result of milestone Lamborghinis and Caribbean trips, but the little adventures and small indulgences we all too often miss along the way.

Some of you already know that Saturday is a “free” day on my diet, and I take this freedom to eat (and drink) whatever I want seriously. I’m not one for the monastic life.

World-class luxuries need not be expensive, and many aren’t. Here are five of my favorites for less than $5, listed in order of preference:

1. Dolfin 88% Pure Cacao Belgian Dark Chocolate

Few chocolates can pull off more than 70% cacao (cocoa) without tasting like chalk. I was told that Dolfin 88% was “the best dark chocolate in the world” by the current master of the famous It’s It ice cream empire. He might just be right.

2. Blue Fin 2005 California Chardonnay

I’ve never been a white wine person, but the Rombauer 2005 Chardonnay, tasted at the legendary Brix of Napa, changed all of that. It opened my eyes to a world of buttery, antioxidant-rich goodness. The Blue Fin Chardonnay, at a whopping $3.99, matches most $30-40 whites. Truly amazing.

3. Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71% Cacao Dark Chocolate

71-72% is my preferred cacao level these days — perfect for truffle making — and Valrhona is just about on par with my favorite E. Guittard chocolates. E. Guittard would have been on this list were it not for their bulk $12.99 cooking chip packages.

4. Original Flavor with Almonds Bumble Bar

These bars, which at first glance look like glorified bird seed cakes, are unbelievable. My mother turned to them after food allergies forced her to forsake wheat, and I promptly ate her entire stash. These are compatible with my diet and a great snack for when the inevitable sweet tooth strikes during the week. Just don’t eat the entire box.

5. La Famiglia 2001 Sangiovese (Mondavi)

I love this grape. Sangiovese, “the blood of Jove” as legend names it, is a very flexible varietal that pairs well with everything from pizza to lamb. Trader Joe’s carries this wine and dozens of others at up to 70% off of retail. My absolute favorite wines? These days, I would have to vote Argentine Malbec first and Gamay a close second.

Great doesn’t have to mean expensive. In fact, you can often have the best in the world for next to nothing. Anyone have other affordable world-class recommendations to add to the list?

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

64 Replies to “5 World-Class Vices for Less Than $5”

  1. For people in the UK looking for a nice bottle of bubbly, Tesco Premier Cru champagne is only £14.24 per bottle, and won the 2005 International Wine Challenge, I don’t drink anything else.

    1. We’ve been staying in the UK with friends for several weeks and noticed that the store brand alcohol (ciders, beers, wine, etc.) is fantastically valued. You folks are so lucky (or unlucky diet-wise!) to have so many well-valued options.

  2. If you like Agentine Malbecs, explore South African Pinotages for more hidden values. I have my favorites, but I have found that in general, most Pinotages are underpriced.

  3. … and at 16g carbs/50g, the darker chocolate is even weekday-compatible with ck- or slow-carb diets. When you stayed here — in Berlin that is — did you try the Rausch 40g-bars, or Lindt Schokolade? Also, did you read about the anti-oxidant properties of chocolate? The darker the better.

    Ansonsten, schöne Grüße aus Berlin,


  4. Hi All,

    I love it! All sorts of goodies to try 5 days from now. My favorite chocolate in Germany is Kinder, which some people will laugh outloud at, as it’s available in any drug or convenience store (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinder_Chocolate).

    Darren, Recchiuti chocolates from SF are amazing. America still has bad coffee almost everywhere, but the chocolate in a few places like SF can compete with the best. Both E. Guittard and Scharffen Berger (http://www.scharffenberger.com/) are made in SF and blow my mind, especially when paired with a good (not necessarily expensive) wine.

    I’m counting the hours until next Saturday 🙂 Pinotage and Recchiuti are on the list thus far.


    1. Hi there, i have one question:

      Can I drink on the diet a cacao drink? I mean water and 1-2 teaspoons of cocoa powder(with around 10% fat)

  5. Tim, I told my subscriber list of 30,000 that your book is MANDATORY READING for anyone serious about time and financial freedom. It’s easily one of the most significant business books written in the past decade!

    I’ve been taking BodyQUICK for about a year for my MMA training. Kudos on another world class product with your book!

    Keep leading wisely

  6. Deyl – you can find Blue Fin at most Trader Joes. I grabbed some last night, ate with a fillet. Delicious.

  7. Tim,

    If you talk trader joes and wine you gotta mention 2 buck chuck (Charles Shaw) Possibly the most undervalued wine in America



    I love the book – I am about 1/2 way through and have already recaptured an hour of my day

    (Is that thee David Ledoux up there?)

  8. I just had the Bumble Chai with Almonds bar – great! One of the best tasting bars I’ve had and I have reviewd MANY!

  9. Another decent wine at Trader Joes is a merlot from Charles Shaw for an unbelievable $1.99. It is or atleast was a first class wine on American Airlines. Very tasty:) I will have to try out the one you suggested as well. Thanks for the great tips!!

  10. For chocolate, I recommend Scharffen Berger, located in Berkeley, CA. Their dark chocolate is amazing. They differ from many others in that they are chocolate makers (they go from bean to bar) as opposed to chocolatier (who remelt other’s chocolate).

    If you live in the Bay Area, they have tours on the weekends…

  11. “My favorite chocolate in Germany is Kinder,”

    Kinder is unbelievable! SO delicious and addictive… I could eat a hundred of those tiny finger bars… It’s everywhere here in Ireland…

  12. Anybody looking for great chocolate owes it to themselves to try Teuscher… It’s only available in their retail stores, and it is flown in weekly from Zürich, Switzerland. The Dolfin chocolate is good, but Teuscher is un-frickin-beleiveable. It’s also very expensive – close to $70/pound. Worth every penny.

    I’m on a vegan variation of your diet, and I make a point of going to Teuscher every Saturday.

  13. Pingback: Cabernet Logic
  14. Appreciated your including the chocolates. I’m a fan of home-made drinking chocolate (simple recipe here: http://ideamatt.blogspot.com/2005/04/how-to-make-ultimate-cup-of-hot.html) and have it every day. You remind me of a quote I heard a while back about chocolate vs. wine. It went something like this: To buy the best chocolate bar in the world you’ll pay between $6 maybe up to $12. For wine? $100s !

    Looking forward to reading your book (being delivered from Amazon).

  15. Hey Tim,

    Did you ever try Trumpeter Cabernet Sauvignon while you were in Buenos Aires? I know it’s not under $5($8.99 from geatcorks.com), but it was definitely the best wine I tasted down there.

    I finished reading your book and immediately put the elimination tactics to use. I work in IT, and I was spending a couple hours a day focusing on the input, trying to stay up with as much as possible(an absolute waste of time). I immediately unsubscribed from all the mailing lists I was on, and now only check my email twice daily.

    Thanks for all the great info.

  16. Green and Blacks dark chocolate is extremely good and readily available in the UK.

    Try using almond milk in drinking chocolate, it gives it a whole different flavour.

  17. Since no one mentioned it yet, I’ll step forward in favor of Dagoba chocolate bars – lavendar and roseberry are favorites of mine. Tne Endangered species dark chocolate bars are also quite good –

  18. Tim,

    Enjoying the chocolate talk, however in regards to your comment on generally poor coffee in the US – and I fully agree – I would suggest you try the Scharffen Berger of coffee (mail order from Chicago)


    Might cost a bit more than your $ 5 limit but it is really worth it. Personal favorite is the Tres Santos from Colombia.

  19. Love the book. I’m with Deborah on Dagoba chocolate, but the prefer the Xocolatl with cacao nibs, chilis, maca, vanilla and nutmeg. Very low/slow carb for a chocolate bar. Definitely a must try for those on the lookout for a new chocolate experience. Especially if you like mole’…

  20. I just discovered Argentine Malbec wines last month and they are my new favorite, too! Trader Joe’s carries some great ones.

  21. Picked up one of the Vairhona Le Noir Amer 71% Cholates and it was exceptional. However, I couldn’t find either of the two wines you mentioned, I’ll have to look closer next time.

  22. For truffles, definitely Recchiuti, Teuscher, Richart and Charles Chocolates – all fabulous.

    I was talking with the Swiss owner of a new chocolate shop here in Santa Barbara, and her opinion is that Europeans do safe and traditional chocolate well, but the American chocolate makers are more adventurous, taking it to a whole new level.

    For bars, try Plantations, single origin chocolate bars that go all the way up to 90% and 100% cacao – and even at maximum cacao are not even remotely chalk-like. They use heirloom cocoa varietals and work with the Rainforest Alliance to protect the environment and create a sustainable product. And all of their bars are under $5.

    Good quality loose-leaf tea is another affordable luxury. A few ounces go a long way, and something like the $12 50-gram size bag of a lovely, delicate Wen Shan Bao Zhong from Rishi Tea will last three weeks if you drink it every day.

  23. Tim, Great book. I am recommending it to everyone. This book has really spoken to me. I own a real estate and property management company in Austin, TX and I already knew I was miserable. Now I am in the process of selling the whole business and I know that my next business will be modeled after your teachings.

    I bought your book because I thought it was about consolidating time and being more efficient (which it is at first) and I realize now that it is about much, much more than that. It is about living your life and accomplishing your goals and letting go of your fears. I can not tell you how much your book has affected me. I am very moved by it and I thank you for writing it. I am 32 years old and I don’t want to waste another second of my life. I am getting my wife and friends to read it as well. I am not loaning it out, because I want to keep it as a bible. We are working on several ideas to bring in passive income.

    If you are ever in Texas, let me know. I would love to have dinner with you, on ME!! Again, thank you,

  24. Such an impactful book — I’m also recommending it to everyone around me (who are clearly getting tired of my “have you read it?” IMs). I bought the audio version on iTunes, but then it got so information dense at the end I had to go buy the print version (you can add that marketing trick to your next book – add so many resources at the end of your book that hapless audiobook listeners will be forced to buy the print version as well).

  25. Hi Tim,

    I LOVED your book I learned so much that I can never go back now. Thank you for showing me another way to get to the “other side”.

    Your friend always,

    Mike Volpe

  26. The very best chocolate in the world is Casa Don Puglisi Pure Chocolate from Modica which comes in Classic, Chili, Coffee, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Vanilla flavors. The Classic and Chili are the best. A warning though–it’s different than any chocolate you’ll ever try. It’s a very tactile experience, from unraveling the string-wrapped package to letting the grainy texture entertain your mouth–and not cheap. But worth every penny!

  27. I worked for wine bars at many years, and though I can taste the difference between merlot, zin, and cabernet sauvignon, I still happily drink 2-buck chuck. Nothing wrong with that wine, and it has that sucker punch to the palate that I love. In fact, most people would be happy with drinking two-buck chuck, were they told it was 50-buck chuck (if there could be such a thing) according to this article:


    Fascinating, and what I always thought while serving wine.

    Two suggestions: I also love Malbec, but for daily drinking (a little with lunch and dinner) I like organic red wines in a box. I can find four bottles’ worth for $16.

  28. I agree that Toblerone is amazing and I recently became hooked to Teekanne Tea in Walderbeeren while in Prague last week. It has the strongest raspberry flavor of any fruit tea I’ve tried and the scent is intoxicating. I am trying to figure out a way to have it shipped to my US address.

  29. If you ever come down to Mexico, specially the central part, you should try the chocolate here, it is incredible, although not as smooth as European type chocolate, it is a little coarse, but you get all the flavors that make it up (hazelnut, cinnamon, etc)

  30. If you are ever down in the Dominican Republic (and I am sure in other Latin American Countries), you need to try “Choco Rico”–it is a chocolate milk that is indescribable….it is like the best chocolate mixed with the best milk. Now I am not one for vices, but I can honestly say this is one of the most addictive substances I have put into my body….enjoy!

  31. Hey Tim,

    I’m a sucker for Lindt 85% chocolate…..thought myself a saint for eating it, quite the chocolate snob among my cadbury milk choc loving friends! 🙂

    I read an interesting article recently however, on the insulin response of foods with added cocoa: apparently cocoa increases the insulin response to all foods it was added to significantly. (Know I should include a link here but have managed to loose it….duh). Perhaps I should cut down…..hmmmmmmmm….

    Have a great day,


  32. Really like your approach.You’re providing information I can use at this moment, and fixin’ to. Thanks!.

  33. I seriously understand why Frightening Labyrinth Game article. I’ve already been seeking all over with this! Thank goodness I came across it on the internet. You’ve made my day time! Thank you.

  34. Tim – how is that Bumble Bar compatible with 4HB Slow Carb diet? I didn’t think evaporated cane juice and brown rice syrup would be allowed during the week. Or did you mean that it was allowed during your cheat day? Please advise – I’d love to have a sweet dessert that is allowed during the week!

    I’ve been on SCD for about 10 months now – lost 15 pounds in 6 weeks and have maintained at my goal weight since then – I generally have “cheat weekends” instead of 1 cheat day/week. I feel so much better during the week, and at the end of my binge day(s) I am ready to get back into my slow-carb routine.

    Many thanks for everything – your book has put me into a much better state of well-being. I’m grateful for all of the advice.


  35. Yes! And you can get Valrhona dark chocolate at Trader Joe’s for $2.99. Tim, you’ve got to try the 85%, it’s insanely good.

    And if you really want to get into world-class ultra-darks, try L’Amourette’s 91% dark chocolate. Made in San Francisco and truly divine! Only problem is that it is slightly more expensive, at $5.49, and hard to find. Real Foods sometimes carries it until they run out, since there is usually a mad grab as soon as they stock. This deli at the corner of Spear and Howard also carries it, but they just raised the prices on the 91% bar ONLY because they realized how popular it was. Trust me on this one.

  36. As for chocolates with more than 70% cocoa, I recently tried out the “90% mild” by Lindt, which is comparatively cheap and tastes quite well.

  37. Nice post by Tim Ferriss on different dark chocolates and cacao products. I have been looking for blue fin chardonnay for a long time. I am eager to try this chocolate……..

  38. Yah I grew up on Kinder bars, the little sticks about the size of a Kit-Kat. Amazing!

    I like the Chocolate Mocha Kind Bar, at about $1.50 and just 5g of sugar. Major satisfaction.