Better Than Starbucks- Don’t Go Broke on the Beans

Today is the first day in our five part series on saving money by making great coffee at home. People have a hard time believing me, but it’s true – I like the coffee I make at home just as much as I love my Grande nonfat misto which I consider the best kept secret at Starbucks. So when I’m out with friends, or traveling, I happily order my favorite drink, but you can tell how much I’ve cut down my Starbucks runs because the barista recently came up to the window and said, “Kathi! I thought I recognized the hum of the motor on your car! We’ve missed you!” Now that’s frightening.

All week we will talk about not just saving money, but making the at-home coffee experience the best it can be so Starbucks can stay a treat – and not have to be a necessity.

Saving Money on the Beans

  • coffeeonsalepicmonkeyCheck the Sale Rack Recently, I’ve seen my favorite brands of coffee on sale in the back of our supermarket (you know, that weird looking shelf that has the unsold Easter candy and matzo on it.) Just this week they had my favorite blend of Starbucks Decaf (Blonde) on the shelf for 50% off. So that $8.99 bag is marked down to $4.49, plus I get a free tall drip coffee at any Starbucks by turning in the bag. (A tall drip is $1.85 which is a drink I would normally order there while driving or traveling, bringing the price of my beans down to $2.64. Huzzah!!!) I bough six bags- which should supply my decaffeinated needs for several months.
  • Keep Your Ear to the Ground (or the Web) Subscribe to money saving sites like Money Saving Mom to find out about all the coffee deals going on out there. Crystal has a network of women who are out looking for deals for you, so you won’t miss valuable coupons like this one for $2 off 2 bags of Starbucks beans If I’d seen that coupon before buying my decaf beans, that would have lowered my price to $1.64 a bag.
  • Stretch those Beans Once you’ve made your first pot of coffee, don’t throw away your coffee and filter. Just add about 50% more ground coffee the next day and I bet you won’t even taste the difference. (And once you’ve stretched it to two days, go ahead and add those grounds to your outdoor plants as a natural fertilizer.)
  • Use Expired Beans No one has ever died from using expired beans, and unless your one of those people who is so picky about your coffee you travel with your own coffee pot, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference. The decaf coffee I bought has three months until the “Sell Date”. Don’t believe them. My daughter’s boyfriend worked at Starbucks and saved up about a dozen of the bags that employees get once a week for free (plus a mug and other fun goodies) and gave it all to me for Christmas. Because I had just laid in a supply of beans, I had more coffee than a girl could handle. (Hard to believe, but true.) I lived off that coffee for over a year and never detected a drop in the quality of the beans.
  • Use Beans You Don’t Like Remember that bag of beans you bought at Costco of French Roast that were SOOO cheap and what a genius you felt like for saving money, but then you got them home and realized they were WAY too strong? Oh, just me then? Anywho… I took those beans, ground up some, and mixed them with a light roasted coffee that I bought that normally would be too weak – turns out the custom blend was warmer
  • Choose a Finer Grind The finer you grind, the less coffee you can use to get the same results. Experiment with grinding to a powdery consistency and see if you can use less beans.
  • Make Your Coffee Last It’s tempting when your coffee has grown cold to just want to make a new pot. Instead, make your coffee last as long as possible by using insulated containers to keep it totally drinkable.
  • A Desk Drink Warmer
  • Contigo Mug
  • Insulated Coffee Pot

Yes- true coffee coinsurers will balk at some of these suggestion, but I figure if you’re going to drink coffee every day of your life, it’s worth testing out what is important to you when it comes to coffee. Don’t blindly follow what your coffee snob friend says, experiment, and figure out what works for you.

And the best way to save money on beans? Win them! Tell me your favorite way to stretch your coffee budget by midnight Friday, September 27th, 2013 and I’ll send one person (picked randomly) a bag of my favorite Starbucks coffee. Only true coffee lovers need apply.