Five Ways to Save Money on Coffee

Coffee is one of those universally recognized symbols of the morning routine. For many, a cup of coffee is an essential part of waking up and preparing oneself for the tasks ahead.

Unfortunately, a good cup of coffee can be hard to find at a good price. Even if regular coffee isn’t your preference, many other drinks served at a coffee shop come with a significant markup. Since when is it acceptable to charge $3-5 for a cup of coffee that realistically costs $0.50-0.75 to make?

So, how do you satisfy your need for caffeine without turning to canned or bottled flavored drinks? Here are five ways to save money on coffee.

Make Your Own
All right, so this suggestion seems like a hard one to follow, but there are plenty of great options available to you that don’t require a lot of timely effort. Some coffeemakers use pods to supply the grounds that can easily be inserted and removed after the cup is made. There are plenty of fairly reasonably priced options that make a single cup at a time, giving you the ability to grab your drink and go.

Bring Your Own Cup
Reusable cups are not only great for the environment, but also good for your pocketbook. Many coffee shops, both local and chain, offer discounts for customers who supply their own cup. Next time you’re at the counter of your favorite coffee shop, ask if it offers this discount. You might be surprised how many do, and it can add up to a significant savings over time.

Customer Loyalty Programs
All right, I’m not a huge fan of customer loyalty cards, but there are plenty of reasons to consider making return trips to your local coffee shop that does have one of these offers. For example, a punch card that gives you a free cup of joe every five or 10 trips is a good way to save money over time. Sure, you may not be making a down payment on a mansion from the money you save, but why give away cash that you can otherwise keep?

Avoid Trendy Chains
I’m going to say it: you’ve got to avoid those big coffee chains out there. Yes, they may have that one blend that you can’t imagine living without, but you might be surprised just how good the coffee is at that locally owned shop down the street. There are quite a few convenience stores that offer a more upscale selection in their blends, as well.

Did you know that coupons are becoming a serious source of discounts for the tech savvy? In Seattle, an app called Pirq is currently being tested that allows people to find deals of up to 40% and 50% off at their favorite restaurants and coffee houses. Groupon, Living Social, etc. are also great sources of occasional deals. You might also find that your favorite chain has its own iPhone or Android App that has a built-in coupon the cashier can scan at the register. If you can eat it, or drink it, you can find a coupon for it.

Unfortunately, coupons can be a pain to keep up with. Often, the best deals are hidden away in an app or buried in the pages of your local newspaper. You’ll need to find a service or two that you trust to give you consistently good deals to places in which you’re generally interested. If that means grabbing a copy of your local events listing, you might make up for the effort in the money you save.

Bonus Tip: Cut Back
Yes, this suggestion may seem like a cop-out, but listen up. Coffee and caffeine in general causes dependence over time. Where one cup of coffee might have worked for you in the past, your intake gradually increased over time. You know who you are. Consider dropping back your habit and having one cup, or a smaller cup to start your day. If you’re feeling down after that, try forcing yourself to go for that less-expensive potted coffee at the office. After a while, you may find that you can accomplish more with less.

Saving money on coffee isn’t the most important step to correcting a budget that goes into the red, but it is one of those many small pieces that add up to a better financial outlook without sacrificing some of the perks to which you’ve become accustomed.

With these methods, you should be able to put a dent in your monthly coffee budget and put that money toward something even better, like a sound machine that helps you sleep.

These are my suggestions; what are yours?