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8 Ways to Feed Your Coffee Addiction for Less

by Tara Kuczykowski on April 20, 2010 · 7 comments

Save Money on Coffee

The following is a guest post from The Coffee Maker Store:

If you love coffee and are looking for creative ways to save money without giving up the things you love, then this post is for you. Lots of us hit up the drive-thru of our favorite coffee spot when we drop our kids off at school in the morning, and while the occasional latte here and there looks innocent enough, it could easily cost you a small fortune over time.

Just think: if you spend $4 a day on your latte, that comes to over $20 per week, $80 per month, and almost $1000 per year. Have you ever tried getting something from Starbucks with hungry kids in the car? That amount could easily triple. Needless to say, it's pretty easy to spend a lot of money to satisfy a coffee craving.

So if you're looking to build your savings, pay down your debt, or start living within your means, here are 8 cool tricks to save money on coffee:

1. Avoid Temptation

If you're trying to save money by not buying lunch, you bring your own food from home, right? That means buying baloney, bread, and mustard. The same goes for saving money on coffee. If you have a habit of getting coffee on your way to work, or when picking up the kids from school, make sure you bring your coffee with you. That means having a home coffee maker and a travel mug... and if you're feeling fancy, even a $2 milk frother from Ikea. Taking coffee with you is a great way to stave off your coffee craving when you're on the road.

2. Experiment at the Condiment Station

Some people are coffee purists and drink the stuff black. In fact, they may even look at you funny for flavoring it with cream and sugar. Since most people actually do like a little extra flavor to their coffee, the big coffee joints are happy to serve it to you (and charge a pretty penny for it). So if you have to hit up the coffee house, you can avoid the expensive drinks by making friends with the condiment station. An iced latte with extra syrup is a decent alternative to a Frappaccino. Or you can order black coffee and doctor it up with your own mix of cream and sugar or order a double shot espresso and add milk to create your own latte. Of course, it probably won't taste as good as the real thing the first time, but that's ok. Bring a friend along and make your own concoctions'll be fun.

3. Gift Cards

Gift cards aren't the best way to save money. In fact they can cost you money in the long run, especially if you never use their full value. I mean, what are you supposed to do with $1.37 on a Best Buy gift card? But here's a cool way to save money on coffee. Look for used gift cards on sites like Craigslist, Ebay, Cards Again and Giftah. You'll find people selling all kinds of gift cards to major retailers across the country. From sporting goods, to electronics, to housewares, to -- you guessed it -- coffee shops. You can buy a full-value gift card or purchase a gift card with a remainder at a discount. It might not be worth your time if you're an occasional coffee drinker, but if coffee is making your poor, this trick can save you some cash.

4. Flavor Your Own Coffee

Another fun way to save money on coffee is to add your own flavors to plain coffee beans instead of buying the flavored stuff. You can mix dried cloves, dried blue berries, dried orange peels, cinnamon sticks, toasted almonds or walnuts, nutmeg, cocoa, or any other flavor that fits your fancy to unground coffee beans and grind them in your coffee grinder. If you don't have one, you can add liquid extracts directly to your coffee, or even to your cream to create your own flavored cream. Flavored creams are convenient, but they're really easy to make at home too.

5. Re-Use Your Coffee Grounds

This tip doesn't have anything to do with drinking coffee, but it could save you a little bit of money on common household items. The key is to find creative uses for your used coffee grounds. You can use coffee grounds as a natural deodorizer in your refrigerator. Used coffee grounds are great for your garden or compost heap because coffee has tons of nitrogen, which makes your soil incredibly fertile and is especially good for tomatoes. It's also an effective (and safe) pesticide. If the neighborhood cat is turning your flower bed into a litter box, sprinkle a generous amount of used coffee grounds and she'll be sure to find another place to do her business. The nitrogen content in coffee also keeps ants away from your house because it burns ants' legs. Lastly, you can stretch your beans by mixing used coffee grounds with fresh ones. Try a 50/50 mix and see if you can tell a difference. If you can, then of course you don't have to do it again. But if not, you just might save 50% on coffee.

6. A Natural Boost

If you drink coffee just for the energy you get from caffeine, consider the fact that eating an apple is proven to give you as much alertness and energy as a cup of coffee, if not more. Exercising is also a great way to boost your energy levels. There's really no way to go wrong here, so even if you do drink coffee, exercise and eat more fruits and vegetables anyway.

7. Look for Deals Online

You wouldn't be a deal seeker if you weren't looking for deals online, would you? Search Google for terms like "free coffee" and "coffee sample," and you'll find plenty of samples. You can even look up coffee membership websites and see if they'll send you samples before you become a member. This will probably get you some of the best coffee around.

8. Coffee Ice Cubes

Now this tip is for real coffee junkies... if you have leftover coffee in your pot, pour it in an ice cube tray and freeze it so for when you make your own iced coffee at home. Use your coffee ice cubes instead of regular ice so that your drink doesn't get watered down as the ice melts (if it lasts that long).

These 8 tips might not sound like much, but if you're looking to cut costs AND maintain your coffee habit, every penny counts.

The Coffee Maker Store is a daily blog and e-commerce store about coffee, coffee makers, and coffee culture where you'll always find the latest coffee news.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lori O April 20, 2010 at 10:48 am

Coffe Left in the Pot - I pour it in my cup right after lunch, add some flavored creamer and ice and enjoy. If there isn't much left, I add some milk and maybe a bit of chocolate syrup. Very own iced coffee.


2 Debi April 20, 2010 at 10:53 am

One way I save money on coffee, and feed my desire to enjoy different flavors of coffee is to buy a Keurig machine. Yes, at $99-$169, they are a little expensive, and they don't use regular coffee very well. But I get coupon codes and hit sales all the time for different flavored coffees that cost me somewhere about 30 cents a cup on average.

I currently have the following flavors: breakfast blend, Nantucket Blend, Caribou daybreak and regular blend, Island Coconut, French Vanilla, Hazlenut, Golden French toast, Sugar Bush Maple, Cinnamon Pastry, Wild Blueberry, Caramel Vanilla, Mudslide, Pumpkin Spice, and my newest varieties: Cinnamon Roll, and Chocolate Glazed Donut. I also have the following hot chocolates: Dark Hot Chocolate, Cafe Mocha, and Cafe Chai Latte. I can brew tea with it too: Earl Gray, Mango, green teas, iced raspberry and others.

I can make iced coffee and iced tea directly in the glass of ice, and I can make 6 oz, 8 oz, 10 oz, and 12 oz sizes. But most importantly, since it only makes a single cup at a time, I can make myself a cup of Cinnamon Roll (I'm drinking one now), and if I want another cup, I can go back and have French Vanilla. When you make a travel cup, use extra bold coffee, and a travel mug.

I had a basic model and wanted to get a new one with more settings, including the iced setting, so my old one is at work, where I bring a few cups of whatever I fee like having for the day. I don't think I'll ever see Maxwell House in a k-cup no matter how I plead, but that's ok - there is a My K-Cup I can use when I get great deals on regular bulk coffee, or when someone gives me coffee packets for gifts or samples.

I recently joined a K-Cup Yahoo group which allows trading of k-cups, so if you get a box of something you don't quite care for, you can trade it off, as well as get reviews of the new varieties that came out. That's how I learned about my favorite - Chocolate Glazed Donut. (Incidentally, the flavored coffee don't have sweeteners, just flavorings)


3 Natalie McKinney April 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I have found that using half Starbucks (or other premium) coffee grounds and half Foldgers does not make much difference in the taste/richness, but stretches the expensive beans a little farther.


4 Brooke April 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Don't forget swagbucks, mypoints, etc. Those are great ways to earn Starbucks gift cards!


5 Kelsey April 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Thanks for the great post! My family already does most of these already, but #5 is helpful!


6 Laura April 20, 2010 at 11:29 pm

I love #5. I've never thought about putting coffee grounds in my fridge! I don't make coffee at home (we have free coffee available at work) but I think I'll take some used grounds home and see how they do.


7 Granted, although May 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Listen! If you accept that Obama will also furnish $4 billion retooling tax credits and loan guarantees for domestic automobile plants and parts manufacturers, so that the new fuel efficientcars can be built in the U.S. by domestic workers instead of offshore.


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