Poor Starbucks. It seems like every article, post and news story about budgeting attacks the luxury latte, as if it were the source of all evil.
It’s not evil, but let’s say the $4 coffee is just another curlicue on the gilded pillars of the last few decades.
And by the way — I’m not going to tell you to stop buying your cappuccino. If you get great pleasure from it, you should buy it. Budgeting, after all, is about defining your priorities, loves and hopes, and then spending accordingly.
Protect Your Wallet, Feed Your Coffee-Loving Soul
Here are my weapons in this mission:
- A Krups mini espresso machine, and
- a can of Bustelo coffee.
OK, the machine you get, but Bustelo?
Mining the Black Gold Market
As I wrote in Explore the Ethnic Aisle to Save Money at the Supermarket, I had a hard time finding a budget brand that compares with the chocolatey taste and aroma of pricey Italian coffee, until I tried Bustelo, a Cuban-style espresso.
Bustelo costs one-fourth as much as the upscale Illy, and you know what? It tastes just as good. And — in case this matters — it’s hip now too. (The New York Times Style section reported that Bustelo, long a bohemian staple, has now made it into the young and trendy party scene.)
I was curious: how much does making my coffee at home every day save me, over buying it at a place like Starbucks?
If you want to hash out with me all the nickels and dimes, see The Math, but here’s the kernel:
In Ten Years, Buy a Car with Coffee Money
Coffee made at home for my husband and me — a double-shot latte with no foam and an espresso macchiato — cost us $0.39.
We save $3.24 every day over buying similar drinks at Starbucks.
- One year savings = $1,183
- Ten year savings = $11,830
We just bought a used car for about that amount. It’s amazing to think that, over the 10 years of our marriage, we paid for it by drinking homemade coffee.
Why I Love Making my Coffee at Home
Coffee shops are still a great place to hang out and meet up with friends. But I’m going to stick with my daily grind. Besides the savings, here are some more reasons why I love making my own coffee:
- The promise of drinking it helps me get out of bed in time.
- It’s less wasteful — no paper cups, sugar packets, stirrers, or plastic lids.
- Both my husband and I prefer the tactile pleasure of drinking out of ceramic cups.
- Did I already say I can drink it as soon as I get up? In my pajamas.
- The aroma fills my house in the morning.
- I can make it in less time than it takes to order, wait and pay for a Tall Cafe’ Latte with Whole Milk.
Three Lessons Learned
1. Black coffee drinkers are frugal.
Milk costs more than coffee! (See The Math.)
2. Small changes make a difference.
As J.D. Roth of Get Rich Slowly explains in his core tenets, big changes are not the only answer. Small amounts matter.
3. Start doing it for money. Keep doing it for love.
So many of our family’s habits have been shaped by our tight budget. But over time, I’ve realized that they’ve made us happy, and who we are.