Is Your Coffee Habit Costing You a Grand?

How much do you spend on coffee every year? Accounting Principals, a leading accounting recruiting firm, recently did a survey of 1,000 American workers and found that the total they spend on coffee at the office could be considerably more than they realize. According to the figures, about half of American workers buy coffee at work during the week, and spend an average of $1,092 annually for their daily coffee habit.

That figure caught my attention because I’d recently done similar calculations myself to figure out how much you’d save if you made your own frozen cappuccino at home instead of buying one daily. My figures — if you buy a frozen cappuccino every day at Starbucks at a cost of about $5, the average price across the country, you could save just under a grand a year by making it yourself at home. But regular coffee? Let’s do the math.

If you buy a large coffee at the drive-through on your way in to work each morning, you’re probably paying about $2 for it. At five days a week, that’s $10 weekly or a total of $500 — we’re taking two weeks out for your vacation.

If you also grab a breakfast sandwich with your coffee, your cost pops up to about $3.50 a day, or $875 a year for your coffee and sandwich fix.

If you toss in a couple of bucks at the office for a mid-morning coffee run, add another $500 a year to the cost of your coffee habit, and if you do it again in the afternoon, you’re up to about $1,500 a year for your coffee — or over $1,800 if you also grabbed a breakfast sandwich.


So, many economists conclude — and have been happy to tell us for a few years now — you can save over $1,000 a year if you make your coffee at home instead of buying it on your way to work. But can you? Let’s do some quick coffee math. Your figures will vary, depending on how much you spend per pound of coffee. For this calculation, we’re using the best price we could find for Starbucks coffee at Amazon.com — $23.98 for three 12-oz bags, or just about $8 for 12 ounces/340 grams. If you use 7.5g of ground coffee for a 6-oz cup (15g for a 12-oz cup), you’ll get about 23 large cups of coffee from your $8 investment. That’s a considerable improvement over $2 a cup. Even when you add in 10 cents for milk (15 if you use half and half), you’re laying out about 45 cents per cup of coffee. If you swap out your morning drive-through coffee with your own made-at-home coffee, you’ll spend about $112 a year on your morning coffee instead of $500 — a savings of $388 a year.

For those who use single serve coffee brewers, the coffee math is even easier. A search for Starbucks K-cups at Amazon turns up an average per cup cost of $1.13. If you brew directly into your travel mug with a Keurig B60, you’ll spend $282.50 annually on your coffee habit, saving $217.50 each year.

And of course, you’ll save significantly more if you choose a less expensive coffee or prefer your coffee a bit weaker. You can extend the savings even further by investing in a personal size single-serve coffee brewer to brew your own coffee at your desk instead of sending out for your mid-morning and afternoon pick-me-up.