And isn't it interesting how coffee can be so many things to us, depending on the time of day and what we need/want? Weekdays it brings me to life and clears the cobwebs as I rush off to work, yet on Saturday and Sunday, it's my welcome companion as I savor the slower pace and putz around my house and yard. On many an afternoon at the office a cup packs enough punch to keep me going. But the best coffee is the one I enjoy at the end of the day as I'm winding down or chatting with my sister, daughter or friend. As I wrap my hands around my favorite mug and sip, I feel cozy and comforted...like wherever I happen to be at that moment is perfect and life is good. Coffee for me isn't just about the substance in the cup. The mystery is that it's about an aroma and a taste that is transformed into an experience that I look forward to and fills something in me. Conversation with people you share life with is even sweeter when sharing a cup of good coffee. A quiet morning in the sunshine becomes a time for reflection and dreaming of good things to come. Am I crazy? Do you get me?
The past few years I had gotten into the habit of buying coffee on the go. I would hit the same coffee stand everyday on my way to work and chat with the gals that had become like friends. Often my daughter would be with me and we would stop for our usual drink each day, as sure as the sun would rise. Even on weekends I would get out of bed and make a beeline for coffee and then continue on with whatever the day had in store. Now, I don't eat out much, I don't get my nails done or shop for sport, so my daily coffee habit was my little splurge in life. But I began to realize that my "splurge" was actually a big chunk of change every month. In fact, one day when I added up what I was spending in a year at the coffee stand, I was startled to realize that it would send me on a nice vacation!
Enter Christmas. My boyfriend has this knack for giving me gifts that are both utilitarian and something special that I wouldn't buy for myself. He's observant and pays attention to the things that I enjoy and like. And boy did he nail it on this one! Imagine my excitement when I opened this!
It was like the heavens opened and angels were singing! Though I couldn't hear them because I was squealing like a little girl and clapping my hands real quick like! I'm not overstating it when I say THIS CHANGED MY LIFE! Not only do I get to have the coffee I love everyday, I also can make it whenever I want, as often as I want. And the bonus?! It saved my budget! Of course I have to purchase coffee, milk, the occasional chocolate, syrup and some to-go cups, but it has radically reduced the amount I'm spending on coffee every month.
My "Aha moment" came quickly. You don't have to spend a huge amount on an overly fancy machine to make a great latte, mocha or whatever your drink of choice is! I've had really good coffee from an inexpensive machine and I've had really awful coffee from places with expensive machines. Now, I know that there is skill and technique involved in brewing a quality shot of espresso, and the machine you are working with comes into play as well, but I'm not going to go into all of that here. Let me just tell you that this machine is inexpensive compared to many on the market, and I learned to make espresso way back in 1986 in a little coffee shop in Friday Harbor, so with these two elements combined, I have a GOOD cup of coffee right from my home every day. So this is about encouraging you to make a relatively small investment in a machine and supplies, learn to brew a shot of espresso and steam milk, and save yourself some money in the long run.
Let me break it down for you. I'm very visual so it helps me to see it laid out.
Average coffee drink- $3.50
1 coffee drink every day for a month- $105
1 coffee drink every day for a year-$1260
The price point of espresso machines vary wildly. Low end machines can be as little as $70 and high end can be $1400 or more. I happen to know how much mine was so I'm going to use that in my comparison.
One time expense
Krups espresso machine-$125
Milk steamer (I got mine from Cash & Carry) and I bought two sizes
20 oz steamer- $16
14 oz steamer- $13
Espresso: This can vary quite a bit depending on where you buy it and the brand. I have tried the bulk beans from Fred Meyer (Kivu) and from Winco just because I like to try new things and compare price, brand, taste, etc. These were my least favorite just because I don't think they're as smooth as the other ones I've tried. I think these run about $5.99/lb
Trader Joe's has an espresso blend that I like for about $7 for a pound.
World Market carries an espresso blend that I like and it was about $14 for a 2 lb bag. Look in the back on the coffee wall.
Lately I have been buying Starbucks espresso and I like it a lot. It runs anywhere from $9.99 in a Target or Fred Meyer store to a little more in an actual Starbucks location for a pound.
Obviously the amount of coffee you use each month will vary depending on how many drinks you make. I tend to spend about $20 a month on beans because I sometimes make multiple shots a day.
Cups: I do buy both hot and cold drink cups from URM and Cash & Carry because I like to take my drinks with me and I make a lot of drinks for family and friends, so disposable cups are helpful for me. But I would like to find a good cold drink cup that I could use daily so I don't have to use plastic ones. I find I re-stock my cups every couple of months. You can get cups and lids for about $8. I also bought a box of 500 little straws for about $3 and those should last all year.
Syrups: I don't like syrup in my coffee! I know I'm in the minority but I like straight up lattes with no syrups in them. However, my daughter likes vanilla lattes so I do have a vanilla syrup on hand. I do occasionally like a mocha so I get Ghiradelli chocolate for that because it's a middle of the road quality chocolate. I like bittersweet chocolate and cringe at the thought of Hershey syrup, but use what ever you prefer. Syrups run me about $6 and last a few months and chocolate is about the same.
So with coffee every month and other expenses being every couple of months, I feel like I spend and average of about $30 a month on coffee from home. This includes what I make for myself, my daughter, my sister and friends.
So here's the savings in print:
Daily coffee from home per month-$30
Daily coffee from home per year-$360
Savings per year-$900
So there's something to think about. The little things really do add up. If you can afford the initial investment, it's definitely something to consider. And besides saving money, you have the luxury of having your coffee experience anytime you want it.
Happy Coffee Drinking friends!