Gourmet coffee is still one of the favorite villains of every financial expert looking for something to blame for Americans’ overspending or lack of retirement savings. Ever since David Bach introduced the concept of the Latte Factor in his bestselling book, “The Automatic Millionaire“, the public’s love of fancy coffee has become a favorite whipping boy of frugalistas everywhere.
While it has grown old and tired to continually beat up expensive coffee as a financial vice, the American public’s love for gourmet coffee hasn’t diminished. According to the National Coffee Association’s 2011 National Coffee Drinking Trends Study, 37% of all the coffee consumed in America is gourmet, with 24% of coffee drinkers getting their fix from a barista at the local coffee house instead of at home.
There is little denying that gourmet coffee can be expensive, but there are several ways that you can save money while still enjoying your favorite caffeinated beverage. Here are five ways to cut the cost of your coffee.
Reduce the size of your drink
If you simply have to purchase your favorite latte or coffee at your local coffee shop, you should consider downgrading to a smaller size cup. Reducing your purchase from a large cup of coffee to a small one can reduce your costs significantly. For example, a large regular cup of coffee can cost approximately $2.15 in some areas of the country, and a small cup of coffee at the same location can cost as much as $1.50.
Switching from drinking a large cup of coffee to a small can reduce your coffee costs by 30%. While the national average cost for a cup of coffee has recently risen to $1.38 and both national chains and small business owners have been announcing coffee price increases this year, reducing the size of your favorite beverage can be a great way to quickly reduce your coffee costs.
Skip the muffin
Your wallet already takes a hit when you stop at the local coffee shop each morning on your way to work. You only compound the problem when you add other things to your order at the counter. Skipping the muffin or bagel that you order with your coffee can cut your bill in half, and could save you $500 or more over the course of a year assuming you bought a $2.00 muffin on the way to work each day.
Go back to regular coffee
It may be a little hard to believe but, according to the company, a regular cup of coffee is the most popular drink that is ordered by Starbucks customers. It’s not the fancy lattes, iced coffees, and cappuccinos. If you are ordering the fancy stuff, you may want to consider joining the rest of the crowd and ordering a plain cup of coffee. This simple switch is an easy way to curb your caffeine craving while keeping more money in your wallet.
Sign up for rewards programs
Rewards programs seem to be extremely popular recently, whether they reward loyalty at restaurants, local stores, or even coffee shops. Punch cards that offer a free drink after a set number of cups purchased have been popular for years. Now, national coffee chains such as Starbucks are even getting into the act with their own rewards cards and loyalty programs.
Starbucks offers its customers a sophisticated program that includes a gold card with your name on it, free upgrades, a free drink on your birthday, and a free drink after every 15 cups of coffee you purchase. These reward programs can help you save up to 10% on the cost of your coffee that you drink at coffee shops.
Brew your own coffee
Finally, the easiest way to save money on your coffee is the tried and true method of brewing it at home. Typically, one pound of coffee bought in the grocery store will cost approximately $10 and brew 32 cups, for a cost of $0.32 cents per cup. Even the pod-style single serving coffee makers cost $10 to brew 18 cups of coffee for an equivalent of $0.56 per cup. Clearly, if you make your own, you can save a ton.
Coffee drinking has continued to see an incredible growth despite increased costs. According to the National Coffee Association study, the 18-24 age group has seen a 20% increase in daily coffee consumption over the past year, with 40% drinking coffee every day. And 54% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 39 drink coffee daily, which is a 25% increase from a year ago.
What about you? Are you a coffee drinker? If so, do you still buy gourmet coffee from a coffee shop? Or do you make it yourself? What is your favorite way to save money while enjoying coffee on the go?