In the middle of winter, it’s definitely harder to get out of bed in the morning.
By the time I’ve stumbled into and out of the shower and managed to put on something that matches, there’s no time to measure, grind, and brew coffee before sprinting to the bus stop.
I’m tempted to dash in to my favorite neighborhood cafe. Then I remember that buying just one coffee drink every day will cost me between $30 and $100 a month. And for those of us who require a daily $5 venti-mocha-whatever from Starbucks, or a guest-roast pour-over from a locally owned coffee house? Our caffeine cravings cost $1,200 or more, per year.
Becoming My Own Barista
One of my major money-saving measures has been to cut back on my coffee shop addiction. I now go once a week or less. In college, I basically lived at the bagel and coffee joint near my apartment, where I sometimes spent 4 hours or more cramming for tests and consuming three or more espresso drinks. At one point, I briefly worked part time at their sister store—mainly so I could get free coffee. That’s one way to save dollars on caffeine.
It wasn’t until after my stint as a wannabe barista that I figured out how to use my former roommate’s coffeemaker, and realized it was definitely worth putting in the extra effort to make my essential pick-me-ups at home.
When I moved, I got my own hand-me-down drip coffeemaker from my grandfather, as well as an espresso and cappuccino maker from my aunt. My new apartment came with an abandoned French press; I could practically run my own coffee shop. (I haven’t quite mastered the espresso machine, but at least I have a project to work on.)
Let’s Do Some Math
I started my saving by buying a 10 oz bag of Cafe Bustelo on sale for $2.50 (it’s normally $3.50), which contains enough espresso for 40 shots. That’s just about 6 cents per espresso shot if purchased on sale, or about 9 cents when not on sale. That’s pretty crazy. It might not taste very good though…
So, I also bought a 14 oz can of coffee beans for about $5 at Trader Joe’s. For a cup of drip or press coffee, it now costs me about 25 cents for a normal-sized mug, or 12 cents for an actual 8 oz cup. Instead of buying something like a flavored creamer, I pick up a 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk for about $1.89. It contains 28 tbsp, at 7 cents a serving. So for a sweet, creamy mug of coffee, my grand total is approximately … 31 cents.
The savings is absurd. It really is.
My Starbucks Surrogates
I’m lazy and tired in the mornings, so I figured out how to program my coffeemaker so I can set it all up the night before. I also really like iced coffee, so sometimes I make a big pot of extra-strength coffee and store a jar in my fridge—it’s always ready to go when I’m dashing out the door. The French press is nice for weekends, as it needs a good 5 minutes for the grounds to infuse the hot water.
I still sometimes crave a caramel macchiato, chai latte, or some kind of frozen sweet iced drink. But when I go to buy one, the price makes me cringe. I took it upon myself to find out how to make something that tastes relatively similar, and hey, it doesn’t even require an espresso maker!
Here are a few links to homemade recipes for my favorite store-bought caffeinated treats. Check them out or look up versions of your favorites!
Have a great homemade coffee recipe or a different way to handle your coffee fix? Share it in the comments and help us all save.