Amy Clark

Day 13: Get Your Java Fix

Welcome to Day 13 in our Month of Savings discussion. Today I wanted to discuss some ways that you can get your java fix without spending a lot of money. As a self-confessed coffee junkie, I fully admit to falling into the trap of buying coffee when I am out and about. I did change some things and found some recipes though that could satisfy those cravings without going to Starbucks all of the time.

One of the things that has recently helped me is purchasing a programmable coffee maker. I had a chintzy coffee maker that I bought when we first got married, but once I became a mom (and became dependent on my coffee fix) I realized that I should have sprung for the one that had the programming function on it. This alone is one reason why I have been able to stay within my budget.

The night before, I preset the coffee maker and put the grounds in. I rest my coffee mug next to it and program it to be ready a half hour before I am supposed to get up. When I wake up to the smell of the coffee already waiting for me, I can pour my cup and run out the door.

I have lots of recipes in my bag of tricks including my faux Starbucks Iced Peppermint Mochas and the Pumpkin Spice Lattes, which make for fun coffee drinks without the $5 price tag.

Coffee syrups are easy to make and can be a great addition to your coffee routine. Slashfood has an excellent entry on different types of syrups you can make (be sure to read the comments with additional recipes!) You can also check if your favorite coffee shop will sell their syrups directly to you or check your local wholesale club for some great prices on coffee syrups. At our Sam’s Club, I was able to find tons of different syrups (including the sugar-free varieties). They were a little over $4 for 25.4 ounces.

If you are a girl that likes a beautiful coffee experience, throw on some coffee shop music. I love this station from Yahoo Music. If you are a Yahoo customer, they provide this music commercial free, otherwise you do have some commercial breaks while listening. You can also check Starbucks website for the artists they are featuring and try to pick up the music at the library.

You can find cute coffee cups at thrift stores (or have your child decorate a special one just for you!) To pretty up your drink a little more you can add the fixings to your coffee, if that is your kind of coffee, by stocking your fridge with the chocolate & caramel syrup and a can of whipped cream. I usually stick to the basics, but I do add these things around the holidays when I make my hot chocolate.

If you are as unedumakated about coffee as I am, try checking out Coffee Geek to learn from the real experts. They have a great forum where you can interact and chat about coffee and all things coffee related!

As far as the best type of coffee to buy, Consumer Reports ran a test of the best coffees in 2004, and two of their top choices were also offered at the best prices. Dunkin Donuts Original Ground Coffee (priced at approximately $7.66 per pound) and Eight O’ Clock Coffee Beans (priced at approximately $5 per pound) came up as two of the best tasting in their taste test.

Grinding and roasting your own coffee beans does not need to be an expensive process. You can pick up coffee grinders for about twenty dollars at any of your local superstores. I found a great resource for learning how to roast those beans yourself. I had never thought to use a popcorn popper to roast my beans until I read this article.

Personally, I have no idea what half the coffee labels even mean so here are some of the meanings on those labels:

Arabica and robusta are the two main beans. Robusta plants are hardier; arabica beans can make higher-quality coffee. Even arabicas vary, so one “100% arabica” brew can taste better than another. The best include floral or fruity scents.

Decaffeinated coffee generally has 5 mg or less caffeine per 6 ounces, vs. 50 to 90 mg for regular. Caffeine can be removed via a solvent, liquefied carbon dioxide, or a hot-water process.

Fair trade is a program that guarantees prices for small-scale farmers.

(These definitions are from Consumer Reports Magazine)

What about going green with your coffee and tea experience? TreeHugger.com has a great piece on how to accomplish this, including small and large steps for achieving a green cup of joe.

Don’t give up on having the perfect coffee experience, just give up on paying for it elsewhere!

Potential Monthly Savings: $20 or more

Sound Off: Do you have any great coffee tips to share?

Published August 15, 2007 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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