We’re a nation of coffee lovers, with java consumption at a two-decade high, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2022 research. Whether you like a cup of basic black coffee or an iced latte with all the bells, whistles, and whipped cream, coffee may feel like an affordable treat.
However, that little indulgence and energy booster is getting more expensive. In fact, between inflation and the higher cost of coffee beans, java prices have increased nationwide. Specifically, the price has risen 39% over the last three years, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and milk prices have hiked 16% over the last year. This means you’re most likely paying more for your coffee at home and in neighborhood and national chain coffee shops.
While you might not consider spending an extra 25 or 50 cents a cup a big deal, these expenses can add up and mess up your budget. Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can still enjoy your daily cup of joe without going broke. Read on for 17 practical ways you can save money on coffee.
How Much Does the Average Person Spend on Coffee?
It’s estimated that women shell out $2,327 on coffee each year, while men spend $1,934, according to the Perfect Brew. Statistics show Millennials are the biggest spenders with the average 25 to 34 year-old dishing out $2,008 a year on their coffee habit, followed by 35 to 44 year-olds, who spend $1,410 on coffee each year.
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How Spending Money on Coffee Shops Can Add Up
The average price of a cup of coffee-shop joe costs nearly $5 according to 2022 NPD data. If you’re buying your coffee five days a week, that’s $25 a week and $100 a month. It might not sound like a lot, but do the math and you’ll find even if you’re only ordering one cup, you’re shelling out $1,200 a year just on to-go coffee.
17 Great Ways to Save Money on Coffee
Think you might be spending a small fortune on coffee? It may be time to take stock of how much of your money is going towards those pots of Italian roast at home and pumpkin spice lattes when out and about. By incorporating some small changes, you can end up with extra money that can go into savings.
Here are 17 great ideas on how you can lower the cost of buying coffee every day.
1. Grind Your Own Beans
Even though bags of pre-ground coffee and whole beans may cost the same, grinding beans can be more economical in the long run. Why? Whole beans stay fresher longer compared to pre-ground coffee, which is often made with lower quality beans, additives, and fillers, tending to go stale faster. Coffee that’s lost its aroma and flavor may go unused or tossed, resulting in pouring money down the drain along with your brew.
2. Improve Your Brew Method
One reason why you might skip making coffee at home is because it doesn’t taste like it does at the coffee shop. If this is the case, it’s time to up your brewing game. Start by using the right grind size for your coffee method, such as a coarse grind for a French press or a medium-coarse grind for automatic drip. Also try figuring out your preferred coffee strength for the ratio of coffee to water, and understand the best water temperature for your chosen brewing method.
3. Invest in a Quality Coffee Maker
Here’s another smart idea for how to save money on coffee: Get a coffee maker you’re excited about. It will likely inspire you to drink more coffee at home. Purchasing a coffee maker may feel like a bit of a splurge, but in the long run, you’re likely to be spending money wisely. Making coffee at home will offset the cost of daily trips to the coffee shop.
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4. Get an Inexpensive Milk Frother
Instead of paying extra for a latte or a cappuccino from your local barista, make your own at home with a milk frother. Milk frothers work by aerating the milk and creating the foam to add to your hot or cold coffee drinks. There are different types of frothers, from handheld to electric, which vary considerably in price, but you can find one on Amazon for as low as $6.
5. Drink Your Coffee Black
It might take time to get used to it, but by drinking black coffee, you’ll be saving money on buying milk or creamer in the supermarket and at the cafe. Some national coffee chains charge as much as 80 cents extra if you order coffee with certain types of dairy-free milk, such as almond, oat, soy, or coconut. What’s more, when you keep it simple and black, you can really appreciate the coffee’s true aroma and flavor.
6. Switch to a Cheaper Alternative
If you’ve been toying with giving up coffee for a less expensive fix, consider switching to tea, which can cost up to three times less than coffee you make at home. Caffeinated teas such as black, matcha, and Oolong can provide plenty of flavor while still providing you the buzz you need.
The cheapest choice? Decrease the amount of coffee you drink everyday or quit entirely.
7. Refrigerate or Freeze Leftover Coffee
Made too much coffee? No problem. Refrigerate it later and drink it iced, or add it to a smoothie with other ingredients such as peanut butter, banana, vanilla extract, and the milk of your choice. Leftover coffee can also be used to make coffee popsicles or fill an ice tray for cubes you can add to iced coffee.
8. Make Your Own Creamer
Those French vanilla and other flavored creamers can liven up your cup of joe, but they don’t come cheap. Cut your grocery bill by saying no to those costly supermarket creamers. Do a search for homemade creamer recipes on the internet, and you’ll find many different variations. Making your own creamer can be as easy as combining 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1-¾ cup skim milk, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
9. Add Your Own Flavorings Instead of Paying Extra
Before you head out to a coffee bar for one of those flavored treats, try spicing up your coffee at home by sprinkling in cinnamon, powdered cocoa, cayenne pepper, or vanilla extract. Fancy syrups used by coffee shops are easy to create yourself and you can find a variety of recipes online. A couple of teaspoons of maple syrup can sweeten up your java too.
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10. Order the Smallest Size Coffee
The difference between buying a small and a large size coffee can be as much as 70 cents or more. Opting for a smaller cup over the largest size over the course of a week could save you about $5. That’s $20 a month and a yearly savings of $240.
11. Pay with Cash Instead of Credit
When paying for coffee, it’s easy to whip out a credit card. However, using your card each time and not keeping track can be an eye-opener when your bill comes due. If you’re carrying a balance and have an interest rate of, say, 19%, you’re paying almost 20% more by using your plastic for that cup of joe. Instead, switch to cash only for coffee to become more aware of how much you’re really spending.
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12. Ask for Gift Cards
For special occasions like birthdays or holidays, put a coffee gift card on your wishlist. A $15 or $20 gift card from a loved one can give you a week or two reprieve from spending your own money at coffee shops.
13. Pay with an EBT Card
The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, provides financial assistance towards groceries for individuals in need. SNAP recipients receive an Electronics Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to buy food items and non-alcoholic beverages at most major supermarkets as well as Amazon, Instacart, and more. This means you can use your benefits in participating retailers to buy such brands as Califia Farms, Starbucks, or Dunkin’ brand packaged coffee, K-cups or cold bottled drinks. Although Starbucks doesn’t accept SNAP at their stand-alone stores, some of its licensed kiosks found inside certain grocery sellers such as Target, Fred Meyer, and Safeway, accept EBT.
The catch? You can only purchase SNAP-eligible items that have a nutritional label. Hot foods and beverages are excluded so barista-prepared coffee isn’t covered. You can check to see what stores in your area take EBT cards with the USDA Snap locator .
14. Check out Coffee ‘Happy Hours’
Look for coffee shop happy hours where you can get your favorite beverages at lower prices. Starbucks, Peet’s, and Ziggi’s Coffee are some national chains that often offer happy hour deals, and your local coffee shop may have them as well.
15. Avoid Hanging Out in Coffee Shops
With more people working remotely, coffee shops have become a popular place to get out of the house and get one’s job done. But, as the hours pass, you’re likely to order more coffee. Camping out for a longer period of time also means you may feel obligated to purchase food, plus contribute to the tip jar.
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16. Budget for Your Coffee
Sometimes you just have to reward yourself with a fancy coffee. This is doable as long as you work it into your weekly budget. That gives your spending some structure and gives you permission to buy that treat guilt-free. As you hone your money-saving skills by sticking to your budget, a PSL can be a great way to celebrate a job well done.
One way to create a flexible budget is to try following the 50-30-20 rule, which teaches you to allocate your take-home income into three categories: needs (50%), wants (30%), and savings (20%). That weekly peppermint mocha can be factored in as a non-essential want.
17. Use a Reusable Cup
In an effort to reduce single-cup waste, some national chains such as Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Caribou, and Peet’s, give customers 10 cents off of each cup of coffee if you bring a reusable cup. Drinking out of an insulated cup not only means you’re helping the environment, but your coffee tends to stay hotter longer too.
Banking With SoFi
Want to find room in your budget for a little more java? When you open a SoFi bank account with direct deposit, you’ll earn a competitive APY and pay no fees, which can help your money grow faster. You’ll also have access to the Allpoint network of 55,000+ ATMs globally. Plus, SoFi Checking and Savings accounts offer one easy, convenient place to spend and save, along with tools to help you budget better.
Is it cheaper to make or buy coffee?
Making coffee at home turns out to be much more affordable than buying coffee at a shop. Depending on the type of coffee maker and coffee you use, you can spend pennies per cup. Using a drip coffee maker using a lower cost brand coffee can cost only three cents a cup compared to almost three dollars or more at a cafe.
How much money do you save if you make your own coffee?
According to research by NextAdvisor and Time, making coffee at home can cost as little as $45.50 a year. On the flip side, getting your coffee at a popular cafe can be as much as $2,007.50 a year. Based on those figures, drinking coffee at home can save you $1,962 annually. In the bigger picture, over the course of 10 years, you’d save $19,620. And that’s without interest.
Is coffee worth the money?
For people who can’t live without their daily coffee, this is a no brainer. Spending money on coffee you love is worthwhile, as long as it fits within your budget. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your daily pick-me-up. The key is deciding if regular visits to the coffee shop are worth the money, or if you can still enjoy a quality cup of coffee with a less costly alternative.
Photo credit: iStock/Toms93
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