Saving Dollars on Coffee

Articles
January 18, 2011

Saving Dollars on Coffee

With the crunch, crunch, crunch of money-gulping monsters all around us hiking prices for gas, airfares, food and (it seems) everything else, has great tasting coffee become a luxury instead of being one of the four basic food groups? SupermarketGuru says it doesn’t have to be.

With the crunch, crunch, crunch of money-gulping monsters all around us hiking prices for gas, airfares, food and (it seems) everything else, has great tasting coffee become a luxury instead of being one of the four basic food groups? SupermarketGuru says it doesn’t have to be.

There are indeed ways to save money and have your Sumatra, too. As always, we value quality over quantity, pure ingredients, and being your own barista is not only a cost saver, it's fun.

Here are some of SupermarketGuru’s tips to re-think, re-frame, and re-do your coffee habits to get the best value today and every day.

Make it yourself at work. We know, what's easier than popping into the corner coffee shop and ordering your favorite latte? Actually, when you consider the time waiting in line then waiting for the order to be completed, you could have made enough lattes for you and the entire office. If your office doesn't already have an espresso machine or other essentials for your favorite coffee drinks, ask for the perk. Here's the pitch: tell the boss it will keep employees in the office, coffee break time will be more meaningful and brief, and when the employees are happy, everyone's more productive!

Make your own at home. Add up how much you spend a week buying coffee drinks on the way to here and there. Yeah, it's amazing what $4 once or more a day can do to the monthly budget. Easily, you could save $100 or much more! Even saving on cheaper venues where coffee drinks hover around $2 gets expensive, and who knows what's really in there? (Actually we do know, and it's not low in fat, sodium or sweetening yet high, very high, in preservatives.) So, make the coffee you love, pour it into a thermos and travel the day on coffee you know is fresh, delicious and already paid for!

Put the savings into your own home machine. If you've never made an espresso, latte or cappuccino at home, now's the time to invest in a great machine. It will give you countless hours of pleasure, entertain guests, and, in the long run, save you some bucks.

If you cannot drive without your cup holder filled, get yourself a stainless steel mug. By year's end, you could be saving money by brewing your own and, in the bigger picture, saving a tree's worth of paper, too, by eliminating the paper cup.

Blend. Play around blending your prized gourmet coffees with superior packaged ones. The top notes of the luxury choices will still resonate in both flavor and aroma, but the supermarket brands will stretch the value a long way. Ask your roaster for some blending choices; you might be very surprised by the recommendations. Also, look in your favorite coffee shop for further inspiration for blends they sell so you can balance aroma with fragrance with body for the ultimate great taste.

Got some coffee leftover in the pot? Don't toss it! Instead, pour leftover coffee into empty ice cube trays and freeze. When the heat sizzles, you'll have delicious coffee ice cubes to chill your favorite summer beverage that won't dilute the coffee flavor like water ice cubes can.

Use real dairy products instead of artificial creamers. Whether it's cream, half-and-half or milk, dairy always tastes fresher and is better for you. Fresh milk is also cheaper per teaspoon than the creamer and much lower in calories (most creamers have corn syrups and other sweeteners in it and are loaded with chemicals.) If space is a premium, buy pints instead of quarts or half gallons. Your local dollar store and even the full service supermarket in most states sell milk products cheaper than the convenience stores, so get in the habit of buying your milk for the best price, too.

Buying in bulk is a great cost-saving idea for cereals, beans, grains and rice, and similar products, but that five-pound coffee may not be the bargain the accounting says it is. Yes, it's cheaper by the pound, but the value of the freshest coffee flies out the window even after a few weeks. So, for the best value, buy in small quantities and use up promptly.

Grind your own. One other way to further insure freshness and quality (for which there is no price) is to grind your own coffee beans. Small at-home grinders are available for under $25, and they last for years- a pennies-per-year investment that pays off big time.

Use the right ratio of coffee to water. The recommended ratio is two level tablespoons to six ounces of water. If this ratio is too strong or weak, make an adjustment. In general, however, using less coffee, brewing it longer, or grinding it finer will only give you a very unsatisfactory cup, and lousy cups of coffee usually end up down the drain. Is that any way to save money?

The kindest thing you can do to the palate and the pocketbook is to brew coffee to the clock. Recommended brewing time is four to six minutes with automatic drip machines; one to three minutes for vacuum and espresso makers; two minutes for a French press, and six to eight minutes for percolated coffee. Here, again, you'll get more satisfaction per pound of coffee, and isn't that what it's all about?