If you’re as addicted to caffeine as I am, you are probably broke (not to mention a real gem in the early morning hours). But, like any good junkie, you’re more than willing to flip the couch cushions in search of a few quarters, or sell your kidney to pay for a grande White Chocolate Mocha on your way to school.
I have to admit, I’m a huge Starbucks fan, and am usually fine with shelling out a few extra dollars to indulge in something tastier than Folgers. Still, I need a new winter wardrobe… so I’m weaning myself off of overpriced coffee drinks (that taste like dessert) and makin’ my coffee at home.
I know it’s a bold move, but after playing around a bit I have learned a few things: 1) Making your own coffee can save you billions, and 2) It is really, really easy. Here are a few tips:
1. Flavor it Up.
Whenever I make my own coffee, no matter how good the brand, or how carefully I measure the coffee-to-water ratio, it always seems to taste like dirt. My solution? Flavor, flavor, flavor. Syrup, syrup, Equal, syrup. Seriously, who just gets a latte from Starbucks? Everyone has their signature: the Pumpkin Latte, Caramel Macchiato, White Chocolate Mocha…what do they have in common? Manufactured taste. Instead of shelling out $4-$5 a day for Starbucks, buy a bottle of Torani Syrups. This brand is used in tons of coffee shops across the country, so you might not even taste the difference.
2. Be Exotic.
Trading a Mocha Java Frappucino for a cup of Dark Roast isn’t going to fly. If you have money to burn on blended concoctions, you can afford gourmet coffees and still save a fortune by brewing them yourself. If you can’t find any good varieties at the store, surf the net to find your new flave: Coffee Been Direct offers Cookiedoodle, Creme Brulee, and Chocolate Raspberry coffees, to name a few; Papa Nicholas features Chocolate Hazelnut and Toasted Southern Pecan, among others; and FlavoredCoffees.Net has an overwhelming selection, from Cherry Cream to Egg Nog to Chocolate Orange. Bonus: FlavoredCoffees.Net also sells Torani syrups! Just add a splash of 2% milk to your tasty brew and you’ll douse your (high priced) cappuccino cravings.
3. Be Your Own Barista.
The internet is smattered with recipe websites, many of which include jazzy coffee beverages. All you need is Google and a ready mug. AllRecipes.com, for example lists a Cappuccino Mix that you can make for yourself, or give as a low-cost gift. The Culinary Review, meanwhile, has a great recipe for a Homemade Chocolate Mocha that you won’t even have to wait in line for!
Once you get the hang of homemade capps and frapps, you can experiment yourself! Double-brew some coffee grounds and pour the extra-strong coffee over ice for an easy iced coffee (the ice will water it down, so you should start off with stronger brew); or cool a pot to room temp and blend it up for a cheap Frappucino. Pulling an all-nighter? Pour hot coffee over a scoop of your favorite ice cream; you can indulge while you give yourself that extra boost!
4. Go For the Splurge.
If you REALLY don’t think you can substitute your fave Starbucks drink for a plain-jane coffee, invest in your own espresso machine. Yes, it will be pricey, but that one time purchase will still be cheaper than a daily Dunkin Donuts run. You’ll also save time on going out of your way to stop at the shop, and you won’t have to worry about the Barista giving you too much foam.
Nespresso has machines starting at $200, about the cost of a month’s worth of Tall Skinny Lattes, while Whole Latte Love has a decent model for $100. Search espresso machines by price at BizRate.com and find a simple yet classic Italian taste…for ONLY $23!. I’ve spent way over that in ONE DAY on coffee before.
So there you have it – four perfectly good options to start your own coffee service in the privacy of your own apartment or dorm. You’ll acquire a taste for non-Starbucks caffeinated beverages while saving tons of money for some more worthy splurges.
Or, if all else fails, you can save a couple dollars a day by switching to energy drinks, which are usually only about $2 for a giant can. That means you can drink THREE for the price of a venti Chai Tea Latte! Not that I have been known to drink three energy drinks in one day. I mean, that would mean I have a problem. <Cough.>
[For more money-saving tips for the college budget, join CollegeCandy’s Facebook group!]