Coffee and the economy – drink at home and save money

Nearly every time you open a women’s magazine or look for ways to save money these days, someone is suggesting that you give up little everyday luxuries like coffee shop coffee. And the nearly always cite your coffee shop coffee as an example of those needless expenditures that you could easily give up. In fact, touts one well-known economist, if you banked the cost of one cup of coffee a day, at the end of the year you would have saved over $1,000, especially when you add in the interest on your savings.

When Starbucks announced that they were closing 616 shops across the country, many of these same pundits wisely nodded their heads and declared that the poor performance of those stores was due to the poor economy. People were giving up their little luxuries, they declared, and fancy, expensive coffees were one of the first things to go. My own observations beg to differ. I’m seeing the same long lines as ever at the coffee shops – I’m just seeing more of those takeout cups being carried onto subway cars and busses. People, it seems, are more willing to leave their cars at home than they are to drink their coffee at home.

The economists aren’t misguided, though. They’re just misunderstanding just how important those little luxuries are to people. A premium cup of coffee is one of the most affordable indulgences that most people have. We’ll give up the $25 a plate dinners, but leave our coffee alone. It’s a lousy $3.50, but it makes us feel like a million bucks. How would you like to preserve your indulgence – without spending $20 a week feeding your luxury coffee habit? Here’s a handful of suggestions to save money and still love your coffee.

Make your morning cup of coffee at home and bring it along with you.
Skip the morning drive-through coffee and make your own at home. Invest in a good vacuum travel cup. Even stainless steel cups are affordable these days, and you’ll make up the difference in two days bringing your own.

Invest in a coffee grinder and grind your coffee fresh.
This is one of those places where it makes sense to spend a little money up front to save more money in the long run. One of the big reasons that coffee shop coffee tastes so much better than most home brews is that it’s ground fresh just before brewing. You could easily spend a fortune on a burr grinder, but even a $20 blade grinder will make an incredible difference in your morning coffee.

Go for one of the single-serve coffee systems.
While most single serve coffee systems are more expensive per cup than standard supermarket coffee, they’re a heck of a lot cheaper than buying at the coffee shop on your way to work.

Pitch in with coworkers to get a coffee grinder at the office.
Does someone run out at mid-morning or lunch to bring back Starbucks for the whole crew? Break the expensive coffee habit together. One day’s coffee order will buy a basic coffee grinder, and three will buy a good drip coffee maker.

Switch coffee brands at the office.
Instead of picking up supermarket tins for office drinking, make a Trader Joe’s run and pick up whole bean at just about the same price – and drink some of the best coffee you can buy. You’ll have the whole office choosing to stay in for coffee instead of going out.

Need those flavored coffees and lattes? Invest in a Keurig for the office.
A single serve coffee system for the office is another way to ensure that everyone gets great coffee that they love – and saves time and money in the process. If you do a little research, you might even be able to show your boss how much more productive your office could be if the company provided good coffee on premises for you and your co-workers.