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While I very rarely indulge in Starbucks, I get riled up every time I enter their store. I only venture inside during moments of deep-seated caffeine desperation. Even then, I have to really, really want that $3 coffee.
My Love-Hate Relationship with Starbucks
I used to absolutely adore Starbucks. I loved the quaint décor. I loved the flaky, warm pastries. I loved the rich, dark tones of their coffee. I loved the comforting smell of roasted beans permeating through its doors. I’m not going to lie: Starbucks can be a hip, cool place to be. It’s a convenient meeting spot, it has caffeine, and free wifi. It’s hard not to love it.
But did you ever consider that Starbucks is evil?
Okay, maybe not “evil,” but they could be hijacking your finances for the worse.
If you’re part of the 52% of U.S. adults who drink coffee, you could be drinking your money away. Did you know that the average American spends over $1,000 a year on coffee? That’s over $80 a month, or $3 a day.
And I’ve even seen many coffee orders exceed that $3 average. As a person who makes her own coffee at home, these numbers are absolutely astounding. I spend $50 a year on coffee beans (which still hurts), but that doesn’t even touch the $1,000 average.
Why Starbucks is a Bad Idea
We all know that convenience comes at a cost. Coffee is no different. If you want someone else to make your coffee, it comes at a premium.
When I seldom visit Starbucks, I buy a tall dark roast, which costs about $3. But when I make my own coffee at home, I only spend $4 a month on beans—that’s fourteen cents a day. When I visit Starbucks, I spend most of my monthly coffee budget on a $3 coffee!
Starbucks is a business and they’re out to make money.
Their business model focuses on an item with one of the highest markups in the food industry: beverages. It costs very little to make your favorite Starbucks drinks. With a little know-how and time, you can make your favorite Starbucks beverage (or something even better) in your own kitchen.
The only exception to the rule is espresso, which does require high-end equipment and finesse. You get a pass in my book if you go to a coffee shop for a good ristretto!
There is no sense in spending $1,000 a year on very hot bean water, which is all coffee is anyway.
Alternatives to Ruining Your Life at Starbucks
What would you do if I gave you $1,000 right now? That $1,000 is a few student loan payments. That $1,000 is a monthly mortgage. That $1,000 is an investment in your future.
But guess what? I don’t need to give you $1,000. Because it’s in your wallet right now if you buy coffee at Starbucks every day. If people stopped buying coffee at Starbucks (and other places, for that matter), they would have an unbelievable amount of cash in the bank. Many times these are people who don’t think they have anything left to cut out of their lives to save more.
Yes, coffee can be an important part of your daily routine. But that doesn’t mean you need to pay top dollar and wait in a long line to get it.
So what’s the alternative to your daily Starbucks addiction?
Make the coffee yourself.
I’m sure you’ve heard that advice over and over. I’m not talking about buying a jug of Folgers and a Mr. Coffee machine to make subpar, burnt-tasting coffee.
I want you to invest in affordable, quality equipment and beans to make really good coffee that puts your coffeehouse to shame.
How to Make Badass Coffee
First of all, you need to have good beans. I’ve found that the extraction method doesn’t matter if the beans are crap. Good beans = great coffee.
My favorite beans are Ruta Maya, which I buy in bulk twice a year from Costco. I wouldn’t recommend buying ground coffee. Pre-ground beans have less flavor than whole beans and actually have a higher markup. So consider switching to whole beans for better flavor and a better deal. I use a handheld ceramic coffee grinder every morning to grind my beans. It takes less than 30 seconds and is totally worth the effort.
After you have your coffee ground, there are a few Picky-approved methods to brew your coffee.
1. Use a coffee machine
I’m not the biggest fan of coffee machines. They’re bulky, messy, and don’t make the greatest cup of joe. But if you like the idea of programming your coffee to be ready when you wake up, a coffee machine may be right for you.
A French press is one of the best ways to make quality coffee.
It’s an easy, cheap method for coffee beginners who don’t want to buy a machine. As an added bonus, no paper filters are required! You simply grind the beans, put them in the French press, and pour in your boiling water. Plunge it after a minute and boom!
You have delicious coffee, sans filter.
Not many people are familiar with the Aeropress, but it’s the Picky Pinchers brewing method of choice.
It produces cleaner-tasting coffee than the French press because it uses a filter to remove the silt. It’s especially delicious because it aerates the coffee and gives it an unbelievable flavor.
When I first saw the Aeropress, I rolled my eyes and thought it was one of Mr. Picky Pincher’s bizarre kitchen experiments. But holy moly, this coffee is outstanding. Check out this quick tutorial on how to use the Aeropress; I promise it’s not hard at all.
The Bottom Line
It doesn’t make sense to pay someone else to make your daily coffee.
Toss that Starbucks Rewards card in the trash and use that money to buy good coffee beans. Making coffee at home only requires a few minutes of your time and can save you up to $1,000 a year. Stay strong and implement this small change to your routine to save your hard-earned dollars.
We want to know: How do you make your morning caffeine jolt?
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