Like any sleep-deprived 21st century human being, I enjoy a cup of coffee to start off a day. It's not even usually about the caffeine buzz to keep me awake, as I think it has lost a lot of its effect on me. A big factor is the routine. Whether in the office to get the morning chatter with colleagues in or on the weekend to complement a lazy day's breakfast, it just feels right.
Now, although I drink solely black coffees, the infamous latte factor still applies. For those unfamiliar with this concept, it is simply a way of describing how small expenses or habits, like buying a coffee or latte each morning, can add up over time. And, by choosing to skip out on that latte, you can save yourself over $1000 a year! Now, I'm not here to argue with that concept, because I think it can be a great way to put your money towards more worthwhile endeavors.
But what if you value coffee enough that you don't want to cut it out, or it's your beverage of choice versus tea, juice or pop? There is a fantastic compromise that will likely have you drinking better coffee for less than half the cost. We'll start with the low maintenance people - a simple brewed black coffee. At Starbucks, it'll cost you a fairly reasonable $2.30+ for 16 oz. If you buy an $18 bag of Starbucks beans and take the drive thru time to boil some water and pour it over an $8 Melitta cone and a filter, your cost per coffee gets reduced to about $0.83 per 16 oz. If you like sprinkling some cream and sugar in, your cost per coffee will rise marginally, but probably stay under $1.00 per 16 oz unless you are going for overweight diabetic status. One of the things I've noticed about brewing my own coffee is that you can control exactly how strong you want it and you won't be forced to have whatever beans they happen to throw into the brewer that day.
If you are one that loves the thought of frothy milk to top it off, it makes it a little trickier, and you will need to take a little more time, but it takes longer at the cafe, too. The milk you use per 16 oz will add up to around $0.31, and to make the latte or cappuccino comparable to something in a cafe, you'll want to have a proper milk frother, which runs around $50. I won't get into the details of how to make these specialty drinks at home, because there are plenty of sites that can help you with that. But within less than a month of daily drinks, your frother will have paid for itself because of the $2.50+ you save over the $4.00 lattes and cappuccinos. If you need your flavor fix, you can always get some vanilla extract or other flavor shot to drop in, as well.
All this cost saving isn't very sexy, but one of the most worthwhile benefits of doing this cafe labor at home is that you learn to appreciate every cup just a little bit more.