Editor’s note: I’m not a coffee drinker, but I know most of you probably are. Because I love you, I brought in a coffee expert to give you the ultimate guide to saving money on coffee.
There are two facts that are pretty hard to argue with 1) people love their money and 2) people love their coffee (sometimes in opposite order!)
If you can’t go without your daily cup of joe, then this article is for you, because it just might save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year.
Sound too good to be true? Well, think about this; coffee is a $10 billion per year industry with Americans consuming close to 10 pounds of coffee beans per year. Add that to the fact that coffee is the most highly traded commodity in the world, and it’s easy to see how your daily cup of coffee is adding to those figures.
Coffee is big business, and you’re fueling it, so you might as well get some of that money back in your pocket.
Still not convinced that you can save that much money on coffee? Let’s run the numbers, shall we? If you drink just one large mocha per day, you’re spending close to $80 per month. That’s just shy of $1000 a year.
Now what if you drink twice that amount? Or if you buy specialty coffees also? That number could easily double. Here are some tips to prevent your coffee habit from sending you to the poorhouse:
1. Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean Good
Adam Platt, food critic of NYMagazine did a blind coffee taste test where he compared 7 coffees, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts being among them. According to his taste test, Starbucks ranked dead last! Their coffee is $2.11 vs. $1.79 for Dunkin Donuts. So choosing DD could save you almost $230 per year, that’s if you just have to have coffee when you’re out.
The savings are even more dramatic if you’re willing to brew at home. Buying Starbucks beans and brewing them at home can save you upwards of $1200 per year, and over $1000 if you buy beans from Dunkin Donuts. That’s enough for a family vacation to Disney World! Think about that for a minute…
2. Be Risky
If you drink lots of Starbucks Frappucinos for example, you might consider buying an iced latte instead. Unless you have extremely discerning tastes, it’s essentially the same thing. The trick is to have a little fun and make your own. One way to do this is to ask for some extra syrup.
If you’re still feeling risky, you can always buy black coffee and add your own combination of milk, cream, sugar, etc. It probably won’t taste right the first time, but it will help you save some money in the long run. To make it more fun, bring a friend and come up with your own creations together.
3. Use Gift Cards to Save on Coffee
Buy discounted Starbucks gift cards at Plastic Jungle! Buying gift cards from retailers directly won’t save you money, but here’s a creative twist. Search for gift cards on websites like Ebay, Craigslist, etc. Or if you work for a big company, see if they sell discounted gift cards as an employee perk.
In many cases, you’ll find unwanted gift cards and discounts for tons of products from plane tickets, to movie tickets, to restaurants and cafes. You can also join your local public radio station as a member and get their member gift cards which are valid at local restaurants and coffee shops. This probably isn’t worth your time if you’re an occasional coffee drinker, but if your coffee habit is affecting your budget, this tip could save you quite a bit.
4. Be Creative With Coffee Grounds
Used coffee grounds can save you a lot of money around the house. You can use coffee grounds as a natural deodorizer in your fridge or freezer. You can use coffee grounds as a natural fertilizer in your garden or compost heap. The high nitrogen content is very good for the soil. Coffee grounds are also great for keeping neighborhood cats and ants out of your garden. Cats just don’t like the smell, and chemicals in coffee burn ants’ legs.
As if that weren’t enough, you can stretch the coffee you drink by simply adding 50% new coffee grinds to your already used coffee grounds. It’s just enough to make it taste fresh, and also stretch the beans. You may want to do this especially if you’re buying expensive coffee. Just try it out and see if you can taste a real difference. You can always tweak the ratio to match your tastes.
Check out this video showing how to stretch the beans…
6. Add Some Spice
If you like flavored coffee, try making your own. Here are some cool things you can add to your coffee grounds: nutmeg, cocoa, toasted almonds, cloves, dried blueberries, orange/lemon peels, cinnamon sticks, etc. Just add these dried spices to your coffee beans before grinding. Whala… your own flavored coffee.
You could also just add some liquid extracts like vanilla extract, etc. Remember, you’ll have to experiment a bit, but that’s okay. In time you’ll come up with your own blend.
7. Get a Membership
If you buy your own coffee beans, consider membership to a coffee club. There are plenty of coffee clubs online. Typically you’ll save money by buying from them rather than buying beans here and there. Just Google “coffee club” and you’ll find tons of coffee-of-the-month clubs to cater to your taste and budget.
8. Ditch the Caffeine
Lots of people drink coffee purely for the caffeine boost. If this is the only reason you drink coffee then consider this; exercise and eating fresh fruits can give you more energy than a cup of coffee.
Some studies have shown that eating an apple in the morning produces more energy and alertness than a cup of coffee. And everyone knows how helpful exercise is for improving energy levels.
9.Get a Coffee Maker
Now this one is near and dear to my heart. Buy a good coffee maker! Buying a good coffee maker and consistently using it is a great way to save money on coffee. You’re buying the beans and grinding them at home anyways (you are, aren’t you?) Remember the tips above like making your own spiced coffee and flavored lattes? Well you can do them at home too.
10. Buy From Big Retailers?
Some large retailers (even ones known for not treating their employees very well) are starting to offer Fair Trade coffee. This is good for coffee farmers because it helps them earn a more decent living wage for their work. But it also helps consumers because this coffee, which is typically more expensive, is more affordable now that it’s on the shelves of major retailers.
It’s too early to tell if this will have a lasting and meaningful impact on coffee farmers, but it’s a good start. If you can buy fair trade coffee at a slightly cheaper price, why not?
So there are 10 tips that are sure to make your coffee habit more budget friendly. Following these instructions could save up to $2,000 per year, especially if you’re a heavy coffee drinker.
Bonus Tip: You can actually earn free coffee as a reward for your daily spending. And you don’t even have to open a credit card.
Open an online checking account through PerkStreet Financial and get a free cup of coffee as your reward for every $200 in spending. This isn’t a promotion. This is for the life of the account. This reward system includes free cups from Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Bruegger’s, and Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
So how else are you saving money on coffee? Sound off in the comments section.