A Frugal Guide to Good Coffee

December 2, 2010 by Amy Clark

I have a hard time resisting the coffee shop experience. It isn’t just the coffee… it’s the act of going to get a cup of coffee, the music, and getting away from it all.

If I’m having a hard day with the kids or just long for a small treat, the first place I think of is the coffee shop. It seems I’ve replaced my desire to shop with a desire to just have some quiet time alone with a delicious cup of hot coffee and a book.

Running out to grab coffee on occasion isn’t a budget-buster, but running out daily for coffee can cause some damage to the family finances.

David Bach put it best when he coined the phrase “latte factor” as a way to describe the little amounts of money that could be better spent on other things. What seems like pocket change can easily become a $35 a week habit.

I hate to give up my coffee fix, though, so I’ve come up with my own strategies for creating the perfect brew without the big price.

These recipes and tips have become a way of life for me and have helped us save a lot of money each week.
If you don’t have a good coffeemaker, this will be a wise investment for you or your family.

A good programmable coffeemaker will start saving you money (and time) with the first pot you brew. You don’t have to spend a lot on the coffee, either. Dunkin Donuts Original Ground Coffee and Eight O’ Clock Coffee Beans are two of my favorites.

A programmable coffeemaker with built-in grinder will wake you with the freshest possible cup. An insulated coffee mug is a great investment for people on the go. Keep yours next to the coffeemaker so you can immediately pour a mugful and run out the door!

Coffee syrups can add great flavor to your coffee and you only need a teaspoon per cup. You can find them now in specialty stores and in coffee shops too.

Never throw out leftover coffee; it’s a goldmine of possibility. Freeze coffee cubes to make iced coffee drinks or to cool your coffee down quicker when you’ve just brewing a hot pot. You can also store coffee in the fridge and make your own iced coffees by adding milk and a little coffee syrup.

I save the small bottles from prepared, refrigerated coffee drinks, and use them to store my own versions in the fridge.

If it’s the coffee ambiance you’re after, you can create that at home too. I love to look at the music in coffee shops and bookstores and check out the discs from my library. As I listen to the music and sip my faux coffee drinks, I can almost feel like I’m there.

My Recipes for Coffee Lovers

Amy’s Version of Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup very strong coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (or one packet of sweetener)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon plus extra for dusting
  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of canned pumpkin

Pour all of the ingredients into a pot and heat over medium-high heat until the coffee is steaming hot. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and cinnamon. Enjoy!

Amy’s Version of Starbuck’s Iced Peppermint Mocha

  • 6-7 coffee ice cubes
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
  • A generous squirt of chocolate syrup (approximately 1/8 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint syrup (purchased at Starbuck’s)
  • 1 cup prepared powdered milk or regular milk

Place all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. This will yield one huge mocha or two smaller mochas.

Homemade Mint Truffle Creamer with variations

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-1/2 cups nonfat milk (or prepared powdered milk)
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 Tablespoons peppermint coffee syrup (or more depending on your personal taste)

Blend all ingredients together in your blender. Pour into a mason jar or a rinsed coffee creamer dispenser. This creamer will keep up to two weeks in the fridge.

To make French Vanilla Creamer, omit cocoa and peppermint syrup and add 1 tablespoon vanilla.
To make Chocolate Almond Creamer, omit peppermint syrup and add 1 teaspoon almond extract.
To make Amaretto Creamer, omit cocoa & peppermint and add ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.