Here’s a statistic that’ll give you more of a jolt than a cup of java will: In 2013, the average adult in the American workforce spent more than $1,100 on coffee. That’s equivalent to the median monthly rent paid for a one-bedroom apartment in the U.S.
For those who prefer fancier beverages, ordering a mocha, latte or espresso can significantly jack up that yearly tab. The average cost of an espresso drink, for instance, is $3.45, compared with $2.38 for an average cup of old-fashioned brewed coffee (that’s a 45 percent difference!). And if you pop into Starbucks, you could be coughing up $5 for one drink, depending on the size and type of beverage.
So, how do you cut the cost of coffee without cutting coffee out of your routine altogether? Shared by real people, here are six tips for satisfying your palate — and your wallet.
1. Make coffee at home
Chris Brantner, founder of CutCableToday.com, which promotes cheaper alternatives to cable TV, admits he’s addicted to coffee. He figures he was spending about $100 a month on coffeehouse favorites like cappuccino. So he decided to cut the cord on his coffeehouse habit and buy a cappuccino machine.
You can pick up your own coffee machine for roughly $100 to $200. A bag of coffee beans runs $10 to $20. Brantner says one bag of beans lasts him about a month. Even on the high end, that adds up to less than $500 for the first year with your coffeemaker — more than half of what the average American worker spends on coffee in a year’s time.
2. Don’t be boring with the beans
Certified nutritionist and cookbook author Ariane Resnick suggests keeping a variety of whole coffee beans on hand at home so you don’t get tired of the same flavor. “Variety will prevent you from wanting to go out for a cup,” she says.
3. Let your equipment do double duty
Another way to spice up your home-brewed coffee is to grind your coffee beans with the same equipment you use to grind spices. That is, if “you don’t mind occasional fun flavors in your drinks,” Resnick says, adding that, “Many spices pair beautifully with coffee, from fennel to cinnamon.”
4. Join the (coffee) club
Personal finance blogger Jeff Rose recommends signing up with a coffee club if you buy your own beans. “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,” Rose writes on his blog.
5. Hunt for deals
You’d be surprised how many places, like 7-Eleven convenience stores, offer free coffee. If you download 7-Eleven’s 7Rewards app and use it to buy coffee, every seventh cup is free. Another convenience store chain, Wawa, gave out free cups of coffee this year on Wawa Day, which marks the anniversary of the chain’s first store. If you’re hopelessly devoted to Starbucks, you can even score free coffee there, too, by joining its rewards program.
6. Be creative
Rose says that if you’re attached to the Starbucks Frappuccino, order a cheaper iced latte instead. Then ask for extra syrup, and you’ve made a Frappuccino substitute.
“If you’re still feeling creative, buy black coffee and add your own combination of milk, cream, sugar, etc. Or you could ask for a double shot of espresso in a large cup, and then create your own latte by adding your own milk,” Rose writes. “You may not get the taste right the first time, but it will help you save some money in the long run. Plus, it could be fun to make your own creative combinations at the condiment station.”