I’ll admit it: I was pretty far into my adult life before I learned to appreciate coffee. I had dropped my son off at a morning class and had 45 minutes to kill before picking him up. Having nothing else to do, I stopped in a local cafe and–against my better judgment–ordered a cup of java. To my surprise, I was instantly hooked. This stuff was actually good! The challenge now was to learn how to make a great cup at home because $5 drinks just don’t suit my frugal lifestyle. Here’s what I’ve learned about brewing deliciously cheap coffee.
Measure Every Time
No two ways about it: Single-serve cups of coffee grounds are convenient but expensive. According to TIME, you will pay at least twice as much for every cup of coffee by using a pod system rather than a traditional brewing method. Instead, measure out coffee from a bulk container and brew just the amount you want. How much is the right amount of coffee grounds for one cup? The experts at Folgers recommend one tablespoon of grounds for every six ounces of water for regular coffee or two tablespoons for every 12 ounces of water if you prefer your coffee strong.
Keep Your Coffee Hot
Unless you’re going for iced coffee, cool coffee is just plain unappealing. Reheating it, whether on the stove or in the microwave, is a bad idea. As Tasting Table says, reheating coffee changes its chemical structure, giving it a nasty taste. They suggest dumping it and starting fresh, but you and I know that that is rather wasteful. Instead, avoid this problem by keeping your coffee hot to begin with. Camano Island Coffee recommends keeping your coffee hot by storing it in an insulated container. Even still, brew only as much as you can drink within 30 to 60 minutes.
Use Grounds Once for Coffee and Once Elsewhere
Although it might seem like a frugal idea to reuse your coffee grounds, it isn’t worth it. Grounds are good for one pot of coffee and no more. According to the National Coffee Association, the coffee they produce after the first pot will be bitter. Brew too many bitter cups and you’ll find yourself running to the nearest coffee shop for an expensive cup of joe because you know it tastes better. Instead, give your grounds new life by re-purposing them elsewhere in your house. For example, use them to freshen the smell of your freezer or help clean your fireplace. Hop over to Reader’s Digest to see their whole list of suggestions. You’ll feel good about reducing waste while also getting a good cup of coffee every time.
Invest in Good Beans
Good quality coffee beans are probably not the cheapest items in your grocery cart, but there’s something to be said for buying good beans. As Kuissential says, without good beans, you simply can’t obtain a very good finished product. CoffeeAM recommends looking for coffee packaged in valve-sealed bags, as these allow gasses to escape. Furthermore, you should purchase your beans whole and grind them yourself in a burr grinder. If you don’t own one, Joyride Coffee suggests having the merchant grind them for you.
Take Care of Your BeansImage source: beanground.com
If you are going to invest in good beans, don’t waste your money by storing them improperly. Blue Bottle Coffee advises that room temperature is best because the refrigerator introduces undesired humidity to the beans. If you do have to store your beans away from room temperature, they say that the freezer is better, but only if you keep the beans in a completely airtight container and do not open that container until the beans have returned to room temperature. Even for beans held constantly at room temperature, it is still a good idea to keep them in an airtight container. Eating Well recommends a frugal storage solution: glass canning jars.
Use a Coffee PressImage source: mandarin-gear.com
Coffee filters are pretty cheap, but when you use one or more a day, their cost starts to add up. With a coffee press, there is no need for filters, so you can remove them from your shopping list. The experts at Starbucks Coffee offer another reason for using a press, and it has less to do with frugality and more to do with taste. Paper filters have a tendency to remove oils during the brewing process, which removes flavor. A press retains these flavors, and it is a particularly good method for brewing dark roasts. Coffee brewed in a press depends on the water being heated to the right temperature. Craft Coffee says that to obtain this perfect temperature, you should heat water to 205 degrees Fahrenheit and then let it cool for 30 seconds before pouring it into the press.
Make a Mocha at Home
A caramel mocha was the drink that hooked me on coffee. I’ll drink other stuff now, too, but there’s still nothing that quite compares to this sweet treat, and it’s my favorite thing to order when I do indulge in a coffee shop beverage. Making one at home takes a little work but satisfies my mocha cravings at just a fraction of the barista-made price. For this recipe, you just need caramel flavoring syrup, heavy whipping cream, cocoa powder, and a few other ingredients. Head over to Taste of Home to snag the full recipe for this coffeehouse treat.
Now, what would cost me $5 at a coffeehouse costs me just pennies because I am my own barista. When others are forking their hard-earned dollars at the cafe drive-thru, I’m enjoying my perfectly brewed cups from the comfort of my couch. Will you be trying any of these at-home tips? Comment below with your own coffee advice, and let us know which tips you’ll be using tomorrow morning.