5 ways to save on coffee

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One of the most popular personal finance cliches is “Don’t buy lattes.” This wisdom says that spending $5 each weekday — $25 a week, or $1,300 per year — to purchase a fancy latte at a coffee shop is too costly.

Instead, brew your own coffee at home for a lower cost. Then, use the money you save to fund a retirement nest egg.

But there’s an often-overlooked flaw in this theory: Even if you brew it at home, coffee isn’t cheap.

Sure, home brewing is more frugal than buying a fancy brand-name latte. But 1 pound of Starbucks coffee beans on Amazon still costs $14.

If you cycle through that bag every two weeks, you’re looking at shelling out $364 per year on your morning cup of Joe. And that does not include creamers or sweeteners.

How can you further cut the costs of coffee? Here are five ideas to save money.

1. Experiment with small brands.

National name brands aren’t the only viable source of delicious coffee beans. Try sampling small bags of coffee from less famous companies. Or, look for lower-cost national brands.

Try several brands and conduct a taste test in your kitchen to discover your preferences.

Once you find your favorite brand, shop for these roasts at your local grocer or farmer’s market. Or, look for your favorites on Amazon and other online retailers.

2. Store coffee carefully.

Many coffee manufacturers recommend finishing a bag of coffee within a week of opening. If you have a sensitive palate, buy a half-pound bag so you can heed that recommendation.

Store unground coffee beans in an airtight container, or keep them in the freezer for extra freshness.

3. Use leftover coffee as iced coffee.

Do you brew a pot of coffee, drink half, and then let the other half grow cold? Don’t assume you need to throw it away. Instead, stick the leftover coffee in the refrigerator.

When you’re ready for an afternoon drink, add ice (and creamer or sweetener, if you like) to rebirth this batch as iced coffee.

4. Use discount gift cards.

Purchase online gift cards to places like Peet’s, Caribou and Starbucks. These cards are often resold at a discount on their face value.

Buy these discounted gift cards and use them to score an extra 10 percent or 20 percent off when you stroll into Starbucks to pick up the bag of coffee beans you will later brew at home.

5. Try a coffee-of-the-month club.

If you are a regular coffee drinker who loves to try new roasts, consider subscribing to a coffee-of-the-month club. With these programs, you subscribe to a regular delivery service that often offers coffee at a cheaper rate than what you’d pay at the store.

Choose between pre-ground or whole bean, and select among various price points. Shop around to find a frugal monthly coffee subscription service that suits you.

Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She’s traveled to 32 countries, owns seven rental property units and hasn’t had an employer since 2008. Her blog, “Afford Anything,” is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say “I can’t afford it.” Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.