Are you spending more than $2,000 pre-tax dollars a year in this recession on take-out coffee? It’s easy to cut your coffee bill and keep more cash in your own pocket, while still enjoying top-of-the-line coffee. You just need to give up the prestige of carrying a cup from a fancy brand (or else buy one of their branded mugs to keep up the image—see Tip 1 at the left). You also need to take on a little work—either by brewing your own (BYO) or organizing others to do it (yeah...that’s the ticket!).
First, buy a bag of your favorite coffee at a reliable market—one known for its fine coffee, and where any prepackaged beans turn over quickly—at the beginning of each week. Have it freshly-ground, unless you can be sure it was ground that day. Keep the coffee in an airtight canister. (If you want to grind your own beans freshly each morning, even better—read our tips for how to make great coffee.)
Tip 1. Don’t Get Caught Up In Branding. Afraid to hide your recession woes? No one will know that your coffee isn’t from Starbucks when you brew your own and carry it in Starbucks’ Grande Tumbler, styrene with double wall insulation and a durable flip lid. At Starbucks.com.
Tip 2. Get A Grab & Go Travel Mug. There are hundreds of great grab-and-go travel mugs. You can also invest in a coffee maker that brews the coffee right into a travel mug (such as the Black & Decker Brew N Go or the Toastess TFC-2T, both under $28.00) or a Melitta Ready-Set-Joe drip cone and travel thermos combo. There are also French press versions (by Bodum and others) for those coffee connoisseurs who like their coffee pressed, for less than $20.00.
Melitta’s Ready-Set-Joe: Drip your coffee, grab and go.
Tip 3. Get A Coffee Maker With A Thermal Carafe. Almost every brand makes an 8-cup or 10-cup thermal carafe, which is also perfect for entertaining—you can bring the carafe to the table, bedroom, deck or patio. Some are as inexpensive as $45.00. A thermal pitcher will keep you in coffee for the day. If it’s not as piping hot as you’d like it for your 4 p.m. coffee break, you can warm a cup of coffee in the microwave for 15 seconds with no harm to the flavor. Get a coffee-loving co-worker to share the work and take turns brewing and bringing the carafe.
Tip 4. Make Coffee Concentrate. Our Mac support tech turned us on to this one a few years back. Anyone who’s tried it knows how good a cup of coffee made from good coffee concentrate is (good beans = good concentrate). The concentrate, which can be transported in any type of leak-proof bottle, can be used to make hot or iced coffee—just add hot or cold water. See our review of the Coffee Toddy (the device shown at right, extracting coffee concentrate from the beans in the white basket above the carafe). The price of the appliance will be paid off in no time, and you might be able to assemble a small group of co-workers to pay to participate in the concentrate, so you’ll get your coffee free (and the appliance paid for) for doing the work. You can also purchase packets of ready-made coffee concentrate like Java Juice, but they’re a convenience product and not as inexpensive as making your own.
Tip 5. Bring Great Beans To The Office. If the office allows, bring in your own coffee maker, buy great beans and make great office coffee. See how many people would like to participate. Each week someone else is “in charge” of coffee for the week—buying, making and cleaning up, if necessary, which means scrubbing the carafe after every few uses with hot water and soap to get rid of the invisible oils that collect in the carafe. Participants must do a good job to stay in the program. See if the boss will buy the coffee maker if the staff buys the beans; it’s a time-saver for the boss if people aren’t running out for coffee.
Tip 6. Choose Free Places To Meet Friends. It’s easy to spend that $4 or more because you want a place to meet, sit and chat. But with so much free seating in indoor and outdoor public spaces, many with lovely waterfalls, gardens and sculptures, you’ll save by grabbing your thermos—or your water bottle. And in the nice weather, you can enjoy the fresh air, too!
More Tips? If you’d like to add your own tips, use the Contact Us link on this page.
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