7 coffee shop hacks to help you save big

Coffee Hacks Every Coffee Drinker Should Know
Whether or not you have a machine that makes your favorite version of coffee at home, there's still something comforting about going in to your favorite coffee shop, local or chain, and walking out with a perfectly crafted cup of joe made by your favorite barista (we all have one).

But while it's nice (and important) to treat yourself every morning or late afternoon, it's a habit that's not necessarily so nice on your bank account.

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According to USA Today, the average cup of coffee (without milk) costs $2.70, with specialty drinks like lattes and mochas averaging up to $3.94 a cup.

That means that if you're a loyal morning latte drinker, you could be spending over $1K a year on your morning caffeine fix alone. Yes, really, $1,000. This doesn't even factor in the few (yet frequent) mornings you grab a muffin or a bottle of water from behind the counter to go.

Luckily for all of us caffeine fiends, there are ways to minimize your expenses without sacrificing the buzz that you crave. Here are 7 genius hacks to help you minimize your spending at coffee shops:

1. Latte lovers: order espresso on its own
A 16-oz. latte usually comes with two shots of espresso. Instead of ordering a complete latte, order espresso shots (over ice or in a cup) and pour in your own milk and sweetener. You'll save yourself anywhere from $1-3 and you can make your latte as light or dark as you want it. Double win for double espresso.

2. Make it a party and bring your own cup
Most coffee shops will fill up any tumbler, mug or travel cup that you bring in. They'll usually charge you at a standard price so depending on the capacity of your cup, you could be getting more fluid ounces for a cheaper price. Some chain coffee shops will also give you a small discounted price (think $0.10) for using a reusable cup, which certainly adds up if you're making this a daily habit.
3. Order a small in a large cup
You might feel a little awkward asking, but it works. If you ask for a small coffee in a large cup (without milk), a barista is more than likely to over-pour the amount you would get in a normal small sized cup. Plus, people have a natural tendency to want to fill whatever's in front of them entirely. Pour in your own milk at the bar.

iced coffee

4. Ask for iced water
It's hard to resist buying a bottle of water when you're thirsty and you're staring right at it. But there's no need to waste money on buying one. Ask for a cup of filtered water while you're ordering your drink and quench your thirst for free.

5. Ice on the side
If you've ever watched a barista pour ice in to any iced beverage that gets ordered, you'll notice that the cup is usually only half-filled with whatever drink is being prepared. Ordering a larger size with ice on the side will give you more bang for your buck. Even better, ordering a smaller size than your usual with ice on the side will more than likely give you just as much of your drink at a cheaper price.

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6. Iced tea, hold the water, please
It may not be a commonly known truth, but many coffee shops will water down the iced tea they serve to lessen the strength of it. If you're ordering an iced tea, ask for it without water. Your tea will be stronger, which means you'll be getting around the same amount of caffeine if you order a smaller size.

7. Punch cards and perks
You'd be shocked at how many coffee shops offer punch cards, and for bigger chain shops, rewards programs. Perks can range from free drinks after the purchase of a certain number, free birthday drinks, or even discounted drinks during certain periods. And of course, they're free to enroll in.

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7 coffee shop drinks explained
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7 coffee shop hacks to help you save big

What's an espresso?

Like a concentrated coffee shot (and the drink of choice throughout Europe), an espresso is "seven grams of specifically roasted coffee, extracted by an espresso machine for approximately 24 seconds," says Tal Inbar, owner of NYC's Macchiato Espresso Bar. Want to drink it the insider way? Don't order it to go. Italians drink their espresso while standing at the café.

What's a macchiato?

A macchiato is "the same as espresso but 'stained' with a little bit of foam—the word macchiato comes from the Italian word that means to stain," says Inbar.

What's a cortado?

"Cortado means cut (it comes from the Spanish word cortar). It's an espresso 'cut' with approximately the same amount of steamed milk." If you find an espresso or macchiato a little too strong, you'll love this option.

What's a cappuccino?

Three equal parts: a third espresso, a third milk, a third froth. "If frothed correctly (and if the texture is correct), this is not supposed to be so distinct and broken apart but rather a smooth, silky texture blending each of the elements," Inbar says.

What's a dry cappuccino?

Don't like too much milk in your coffee? Try ordering your cappuccino 'dry.' "This is usually very little warm milk and more foam or froth," says Inbar.

What's a red eye?

If a regular coffee is no longer perking you up the same way, try a red eye for an extra jolt: "It's drip coffee with a shot of espresso."

What's a caffe latte?

For those who like more watered-down, less-intense coffee drinks, a latte is "the opposite of a cappuccino," says Inbar. "It consists of espresso with a lot of warm milk and a little bit of froth."


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