There are few things I love more in this world than coffee. I have a coffee mug tattoo, and I’m sipping a latte at 9 PM. Needless to say, I’m passionate about this topic. I know all too well that coffee habits can become extremely expensive. Let’s run some quick numbers:
- One plain Grande Starbucks Latte cost about $3.65. If you buy one daily, you’re spending $1,332.25 per year.
- One plain Grande Starbucks hot coffee cost about $2.10. If you buy one cup daily, you’re spending $766.50 per year.
- The average American spends $1,110 per year (which breaks down to $3 per day) on coffee.
A few years ago, I became much more frugal with my coffee habit. The surprising thing was that I wasn’t missing out at all; I still enjoy delicious drinks on a daily basis. If you want to indulge in coffee without overspending, read on to discover 10 ways to save money on coffee.
1. Use Receipt Scanning Apps
Receipt scanning apps are a great way to save money on groceries and other goods that you buy on a daily basis. Simply keep your store receipt after you make your purchase and take a picture of it from your phone. Earn anywhere from $.10 cents to $5 in cash back depending on the offer.
The great thing about receipt scanning apps is that they can be deal stacked. This means that you can use more than one for the same receipt, doubling or even tripling your savings. All of these apps are 100% free to use.
- Ibotta – One of the most popular receipt scanning apps. Earn cash back on groceries, electronics and even online purchases. Use promo code qFTVA when you register and scan your first receipt to earn a $10 bonus.
- Checkout 51 – While not as popular as Ibotta, they still have a lot of great offers. Not only that, but you can often find cash back offers for fruits and vegetables.
- MobiSave – This one is more of a mix between Checkout 51 and Ibotta. The cash back offers aren’t usually as high, but you can still earn a great amount. Also get a $1 bonus when you register and scan your first receipt.
If you’re interested in more of these apps, feel free to checkout our top 10 receipt scanning apps.
2. Use Grocery Store Coffee Coupons
If you buy coffee at the grocery store, there’s no reason to pay full price for it. Many popular brands have coupons for bags of ground coffee and whole beans. Here are some examples I found just by doing a quick search:
- Eight O’Clock Coffee – By providing your name and e-mail address, you instantly get a coupon for $1 off any bag of Eight O’Clock coffee.
- Maxwell House – This Facebook page is dedicated to sharing Maxwell House coffee coupons. Examples of current and past coupons include $1 off a canister of Maxwell House and $2 to $3 off sales at specific stores.
- Folgers Coffee – If you visit the Folger’s website, you can join the Folger’s Wakin’ Up Club. You’ll receive printable coffee coupons via e-mail. One previous coupon offered $2 off any Folgers Coffee purchase.
- Seattle’s Best Coffee – Click the link at the top of the website, and you’ll get a printable coupon for $1.25 off a Seattle’s Best purchase.
Where I live, these brands range from about $6 to $10 per bag or canister. With these coupons, you can save roughly 10% to 50% on your coffee purchase. That’s not bad at all!
Additionally, make sure you check weekly ads for your favorite stores. I’ll use Target as one great example. A regular 12-ounce bag of Starbucks coffee is $7.99 in my area. But there’s often a sale where each bag is $5.99 if you buy three or more. That’s at least $6 off Starbucks coffee beans or coffee grounds. Overall, the value is impressive.
3. Use Coffee Shop Coupons and Rewards Programs
Sometimes getting coffee while you’re out and about is just too tempting. I admittedly grab a drink about once a week. But with coupons and free rewards programs (and some of the tips in this post), buying a drink is worth it. Here are some coffee shop coupons and programs for you to try out:
- Dunkin’ Donuts – If you sign up for DD Perks, you’ll get one free coffee or tea in any size. With a DD Perks card, you earn points when you make purchases at Dunkin’ Donuts. Every time you earn 200 points, you get a free single serve beverage.
- Starbucks – I’m a big fan of the Starbucks rewards program because of all of the freebies. You get a free beverage of your choice when you join the program. When you get plain coffee and tea in-store, you get free refills. You also get a free beverage of your choice on your birthday. You’ll even earn free beverages with points and get coupons via e-mail.
- McCafe – McDonald’s certainly isn’t a coffee shop, but their McCafe menu is pretty popular. When you click the link, you’ll see all of the current deals available for their coffee beverages. Some current offers include a free Medium McCafe Shake or McFlurry with any purchase and buy five McCafe items, get one free. The coupons are constantly updated, and there are often great deals for their coffee beverages.
- Scooter’s Coffee – Scooter’s Coffee is a smaller coffee shop chain, but they are expanding pretty rapidly. When you sign up for their e-mail list, you get a free drink for signing up, a free birthday gift, and more.
If you prefer local coffee shops, you may still be in luck. Next time you visit your favorite spot, ask if they have a loyalty program or special deals. A shop near me has daily discounts on different drinks. Many shops offer punch cards where you earn a free drink if you buy a certain number of drinks. Overall, coupons and rewards programs can save you a lot of money.
4. Buy A Reusable K-Cup Filter
K-Cup coffee makers are all about convenience, and they’re admittedly very nice to have around. Making a cup of hot coffee in about one minute? Sign me up. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. According to this Business Insider article, using K-Cups cost up to five times more than brewing coffee in a traditional pot. That’s a very significant difference.
The other downside to K-Cups is that the coffee grounds aren’t fresh. I can definitely taste the difference between a K-Cup cup of coffee and a cup of coffee made from fresh grounds. For some people, this isn’t an issue. But if you’re a bit of a coffee connoisseur, this may bother you.
The simplest solution is to buy a reusable K-Cup filter. You simply fill the reusable filter with your favorite coffee grounds. In general, 1-2 tablespoons per six ounces of coffee is the go-to measurement. Pop the filter into your machine and you’re good to go. You can drink the coffee that you absolutely love while cutting your costs significantly.
5. Get Creative In Your Own Kitchen
If you want to have gourmet coffee without spending a dime, simply get creative in your own kitchen. There are numerous ways to turn a plain cup of coffee into a delicious treat. I’ve listed some of my favorite ideas below.
- Explore different add-ins for coffee. The article I linked lists nine different unique add-ins for your coffee. I personally like to add cinnamon to my coffee grounds. This adds a subtle touch of flavor, and it makes my home smell wonderful. A teaspoon or two of honey in a hot cup of coffee is delicious, too. Check out the ideas in the article; the comments section has tons of great ideas, too.
- Create your own custom coffee creamer. I buy half & half for my coffee, but I don’t spend a dime on flavored coffee creamer. Why pay $5 for a bottle of flavored creamer when you can make your own? In the linked article, you’ll find some excellent recipes for DIY coffee creamer. These sweet ideas turn your plain cup of joe into something you’d enjoy in a cafe, but you won’t overspend at all.
- Make coffee ice cubes when you have leftover coffee. If you use a traditional coffee maker, you may find yourself with leftover coffee. When I used one, I hated pouring extra coffee out – even just a cup felt like a waste! A friend told me about making coffee ice cubes. You just pour some leftover coffee into an ice cube tray, and you can also save a cup in the fridge if you’ve got a lot left over. Use the coffee ice cubes in iced coffee so it doesn’t get watered down. It’s a simple but wonderful trick!
With these three ideas, you can take plain ole’ coffee to new heights. Whether you want vanilla caramel creamer or a refreshing iced coffee, you can make it at home. You’ll save a few bucks here and there.
6. Learn How To Make Cold Brew
Cold brew coffee has been quite the craze over the past few years. It’s different than iced coffee and has a distinct taste to it; it’s generally smooth in flavor and less acidic than traditional iced coffee. Unfortunately, a cup of delicious cold brew can cost a pretty penny. In 2015, the average price of a grande cold brew was $3.25. Let’s say you enjoy this drink three times a week during June, July, and August. That’s $126.75 spent on cold brew coffee in the summer. And where I live, the price is higher than the $3.25 quoted in the article. I can’t imagine spending that much.
Fortunately, making a delicious batch of cold brew coffee at home is fairly simple and very fun. It’s something I look forward to every summer. For someone who’s new to cold brew, I recommend this Jamie Oliver instructional article. It’s pretty easy to understand and breaks down the entire process.
If you aren’t into the filtering process, don’t worry too much. You can get a special cold brew coffee pitcher to make the process even easier. There’s no need to stress too much about ratios and what beans you use. Just have fun with it, and save more than $100 each summer in the process!
7. Buy Whole Beans Instead Of Ground Coffee
When I first started drinking coffee, I always bought coffee grounds. It never really occurred to me that there could be a difference. As I got older, someone mentioned to me that it’s better to buy bags of whole beans instead of bags of coffee grounds. Curious, I decided to read why this is the case. An article from coffee.org covers the topic in depth; I’ve highlighted key points below.
- Coffee grounds go stale more quickly than whole beans do. Because of this, you may find yourself throwing out coffee grounds more often. As you can imagine, that’s quite a waste of money.
- All the taste comes from the oil on coffee beans. So as soon as you grind coffee up, the flavor begins to evaporate. This is true even if a bag or canister is vacuum sealed. Ground coffee and beans cost the same amount – why not buy the fresher, tastier option?
At first, I was hesitant to make the switch. I wasn’t too keen on grinding up coffee grounds every morning. Turns out it really only takes an extra minute or two. When you buy whole beans, you can save money and have better-tasting coffee. If you don’t mind the extra bit of work, it’s truly a no-brainer.
8. Purchase Some Inexpensive Coffee Equipment
This tip was the biggest game changer for me. When you spend a bit of money on coffee equipment, you can whip up your own gourmet drinks at home. Remember that latte I mentioned at the beginning of this post? I made it in my kitchen using just a few affordable tools. Here’s what I recommend buying and why:
- A milk frother. Warm, frothed milk is a staple in lattes, cappuccinos, and other hot coffee drinks. Instead of overspending on lattes, try making your own. I use a handheld milk frother and heat up my milk separately. If you want to pay a bit more, you can get a dual frother and steamer.
- A coffee grinder. If you decide to buy whole beans, you’ll need to buy a coffee grinder. This allows you to grind coffee each morning (or before bed) for a fresh cup every day. I use this coffee grinder and it cost me less than $20. Some people prefer Burr grinders like this one; they make less noise and offer more grinding options.
- A pour over coffee dripper. You may see these used in your local coffee shops, and they’re a big part of Japanese coffee culture. A pour over coffee dripper lets you make an incredibly fresh cup of coffee. I don’t use mine daily, as it is a bit time-consuming. But the flavor difference between a pour over and a normally brewed cup is very drastic.
- An espresso machine. This is a must-have item if you want to make coffee shop drinks at home. They have models like this one for under $30, and there are elaborate multi-functional machines for nearly $550. Personally, I think starting out with an inexpensive machine is just fine. You’ll still get rich, bold espresso using the less expensive model.
In total, you’d spend approximately $70 on this equipment if you choose the basic options. Let’s say that making drinks at home cuts your daily latte trips – $1,332.25 per year – in half. Minus the cost of equipment, you’d be saving about $736.00 per year on coffee drinks.
9. Buy Coffee Gift Cards For Discounted Rates
In my post 8 Websites To Make Money Selling Gift Cards Online, I discussed how you can profit off of selling new and used gift cards online. If you take a look at the post, you’ll see I gave real-life examples of how much you can earn. When you buy used gift cards online, you get the same benefits. Below I’ve made a list of a few gift card buying websites and how much you’d pay for a $50 Starbucks gift card on each site:
- Raise – A $50 card cost $48.75 for a total of 2.5% off retail price.
- Cardpool – A $50 card cost $43.77 for a total of 12.46% off retail price.
As you can see, you can get a fairly good deal on gift cards for coffee shops. Why pay full price when you can save over 17% on a Starbucks gift card? The gift cards are completely legitimate – just cheaper. It truly is that simple.
10. Change Up Your Coffee Order
If you want to save money while still going to coffee shops, change up your coffee order. There are smart yet simple things you can do to save anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars. The list below is a combination of my personal methods and ones I’ve found online:
- If you’re heading home, order plain espresso shots over ice. Once you’re home, add in milk and whatever else you’d like. I order four shots over ice in a Grande cup and it costs me $2.75. A Grande iced latte (espresso + milk + ice) is $3.65 and contains only two shots, and two additional shots are $0.80 each where I live. That makes the cost of the latte $5.25. I save $2.50 per drink simply by adding half & half at home.
- Try a drinking a café au lait instead of a latte. As you likely know, a latte is espresso and steamed milk. A café au lait (or Caffe Misto at Starbucks) is half brewed coffee and half steamed milk. It’s a tasty drink and tends to have more caffeine. The price difference varies depending on where you go, but I save about $2.00 per drink with this change.
- Bring in a reusable coffee mug. Most coffee shops I’ve been to will give you a discount for bringing in your own reusable travel mug. Starbucks will give you a $0.10 discount when you do this. It’s not a lot, but it can add up over time.
- Instead of an iced latte, get an iced coffee with milk and flavored syrup. I haven’t used this trick in a few years, but when I did I’d save about $1 per drink.
- If you use a lot of cream, ask for a larger cup. I’m one of those people who need tons of extra room for cream. So I either have to dump some of my coffee out or ask for more room in the cup – both scenarios mean I get less coffee than what I’m paying for. At Starbucks, I order a Grande coffee in a Venti cup. This gives me all of the room I need, and I don’t waste a drop of coffee.
As you can see, there are lots of crafty ways to spend less while enjoying yourself. If you’re someone who makes daily coffee runs, your savings will rapidly add up when you make these changes.
11. Only Buy Coffee Using Cash Or Gift Cards
When I started using Mint to manage my spending, I noticed that I kept going over on my coffee budget. I did some reading about personal finance, and I realized that using my debit card was my downfall. With a debit or credit card in hand, you may be more likely to spend more on coffee. It’s easy to do so when you don’t have a very specific amount of money on hand. Consider these two methods instead:
- Only pay for your coffee with cash. Let’s say that you’ve limited your coffee budget to $50 per month. At the beginning of each month, withdraw $50 from your ATM. Keep it in a separate area of your wallet, or put it in an envelope. When you order coffee, only use the cash from your budget. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. If you run out of money, you can opt for the at-home options listed in this article.
- Only pay for your coffee with gift cards. The same logic applies to using solely gift cards to pay for your coffee. Again, let’s say your coffee budget is $50 per month. If you only go to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, get a gift card for that chain. If you go to multiple coffee shops, consider a prepaid debit card. Add $50 to it every month and use it at your favorite spots.
These two simple solutions can make a huge difference. I switched to only paying for my coffee with cash, and that keeps me within my budget 100% of the time.
The Coffee Conclusion
Overall, there are several ways to save money on coffee. From coffee coupons to experimenting in the kitchen, you’ll certainly cut down costs by following these tips. Remember to have fun as you try out new recipes and equipment. It may take some time to get into a new caffeine routine, but it’s totally worth it.
If you enjoyed this post about saving money, we’ve got dozens more that you’ll like. Two of my personal picks are 50 Cheap Gift Ideas You Can Buy For Under $20 and 15 Types of Beauty Products To Buy At Dollar Tree. To explore dozens more posts about getting the most out of your dollar, visit the Save Money section of Frugal For Less. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!