4 brilliant tricks to slash the cost of your morning coffee

A cup of morning coffee is part of the normal morning routine for many American adults. But drinking just three cups per day can add up to a large expense, especially given the prices on everything from the beans to coffee makers and other high-end equipment.

Here are four strategies for having a great cup of coffee in the morning while keeping the price reasonably low.

1. Practice cold brewing. Cold-brewed coffee simply involves soaking ground coffee in cold water for a long period of time. This can make for a richer, deeper flavor and can help you avoid the expense of a coffee pot to boot.

All you need is a water bottle, fine mesh sieve, large glass and perhaps a coffee filter, depending on your tastes. Simply grind up your beans coarsely, then add half a cup of ground beans to a water bottle and add three cups of water. Shake it a bit, then put it in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

[See: 8 Big Budgeting Blunders – and How to Fix Them.]

When you're ready, pull the bottle out of the fridge and pour it through the sieve into a glass. Rinse the sieve and water bottle, then pour that strained coffee back through the sieve into the water bottle again (depending on your sieve, you may also want to use a coffee filter here, too). Voila! Now you have concentrated coffee. Try combining the coffee with equal parts water before drinking. To do that, divide the concentrated coffee into two water bottles, then add an equal amount of water to each one. That's several cups of coffee that sit in the fridge, ready for cold use. A quick heating in the microwave will make it wonderfully hot, but it's ready to go for cold coffee, too.

Compare the price of coffee at your favorite chains:

Price of coffee at 10 fast-food places
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Price of coffee at 10 fast-food places


McCafe premium roast coffee, small: $1.00

Burger King

Smooth roast coffee, small: $1.00

Krispy Kreme

Coffee (smooth, rich, or decaf), small: $1.59

Dunkin' Donuts

Hot coffee, small: $1.59

Tim Hortons

Coffee (original blend, dark roast or decaf): $1.59

Caribou Coffee

Coffee of the day, small: $1.69

Panera Bread

Hot coffee, small: $1.89


Freshly brewed coffee, tall: $1.85

Bruegger's Bagels 

House blend coffee, small: $1.99


2. Reuse old grounds. Many people toss out their old coffee grounds under the impression that all of the value has been extracted from them. However, coffee grounds almost always have more coffee that can be extracted, so throwing away grounds after the first pot is usually a mistake.

One great strategy for reusing grounds is to save used grounds one day. Over the next two days, mix equal amount fresh grounds and used grounds for your coffee use (without saving those grounds). You'll likely notice zero difference in the coffee and you're suddenly using 25 percent fewer beans.

[See: 12 Habits of Phenomenally Frugal Families.]

Another good idea for using old grounds is to simply mix them into the soil of any plants that you have nearby. If you're planning on planting anything in the near future, save the grounds and mix them directly into the soil as you plant. The grounds will break down in the soil and provide great nutrients for the plant above.

3. Avoid single-serve coffee packets. While they may be ultra-convenient, the benefits tend to break down when you calculate the cost per cup as well as the cost of the special pot you need to brew the single-serve coffee packets.

Even if you buy them in bulk, individual coffee packets or cups run at a cost of 50 cents per cup. Compare that to, say, the cost of the cold-brewing method described above, which gets the price down to about a dime per cup of coffee (depending on the type of bean used, of course).

Sure, it's convenient, but the cost adds up fast. If you drink three cups a day and are spending 40 cents extra per cup for the convenience, you can save $438 per year just by switching away from the single-serve packets.

[See: 10 Money Leaks to Shut Down Now.]

4. If you must hit the coffee shop, become a loyalty member. Many coffee shops and coffee chains have some kind of loyalty program that offers discounted rewards for regular coffee purchases. If you simply must have your morning coffee from a coffee shop, sign up for that program.

One great strategy is to sign up using an alternate email address so that you don't get the junk emails at your regular address. You can then check the alternate address occasionally to see if there are any deals that have been sent to that address.

Keep using the loyalty program at your preferred shop, and you'll rack up free cups of coffee and other such perks over time. Of course, hitting up a coffee shop daily is an expensive routine, but if you can trim the cost a little with such a simple tactic, it's worth it.

These four strategies can each dramatically trim your coffee expenses, helping you save money and still enjoy your morning pick-me-up.

Discover the difference between your favorite coffee drinks:

Coffee and espresso drinks explained
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Coffee and espresso drinks explained

A latte is espresso and steamed milk with a small amount of milk foam on top.

(Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

A cappuccino should be equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. 

(Photo by Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images)

dry cappuccino features less of the traditional steamed milk and more milk foam in its place.

(Photo by Etienne Voss via Getty Images)

cafe au lait is traditional black coffee mixed with warmed milk.

(Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)

Espresso is specially brewed coffee, created with finely ground coffee beans brewed under pressure with nearly-boiling water. 

(Photo by Jeremy Piper/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

macchiato, traditionally, is a 'stained' espresso -- espresso with just a dot of milk.

(Photo by Nigel Noyes via Getty Images)

An Americano is espresso mixed with hot water. 

(Photo by Ben Monk via Getty Images)

cortado is espresso that is 'cut' with an equal amount of milk. 

(Photo by Anthony Collins via Getty Images)

red eye is for the severely under-caffeinated -- espresso shots mixed in with a regular black coffee

(Photo by Dima Sobko via Shutterstock)


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