Consumer IQ

Creative Ways to Save On Your Morning Cup of Joe

Creative Ways to Save On Your Morning Cup of Jo :: Mint.com/blog

Fulfilling your cup-a-day (or more) coffee habit doesn’t have to be a budget-busting “latte factor.”

Market prices for coffee dropped 20% in 2013, ending the year at $1.15 per pound, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In supermarket prices, the going rate for a pound of ground coffee was $5.04 in November, down from $6.06 a year earlier, according to the Consumer Price Index.

Coffee prices are poised to drop even further this year, with more farmers planting coffee and using hardier trees.

Whether you brew at home or drop by a Starbucks daily, there are plenty of strategies you can use to capitalize further on the competitive coffee prices.

“I won’t hate on you if you want to drink a PSL [pumpkin spice latte],” says Cherie Lowe of QueenofFree.net.

“However, coffee purchases can sometimes be mindless and add up quickly over a month. Monitor your spending to make sure that all of your hard-earned cash isn’t headed to Seattle monthly,” she adds.

We talked to brewers, budgeters, and coffee fanatics about their best tricks to save:

Use gift cards.

Pick up secondhand cards on sites like eBay or Cragslist, where they sell for less than face value, says Harrine Freeman, chief executive of H.E. Freeman Enterprises.

At GiftCardGranny.com, Starbucks cards have discounts of as much as 17.4%, and Dunkin’ Donuts, 10%. Use them whether you’re buying coffee drinks or beans.

Stock up during sales.

“While everyone else was buying clothing and electronics on Cyber Monday, I bought coffee,” says Kendal Perez of GiftCardGranny.com.

“I bought five bags of whole-bean coffee from Starbucks for $41, amounting to about $8.35 per bag. The original cost of these bags are over $13, so I scored,” says Perez.

Shea adds, “If you go this route, make sure to store coffee in an opaque, air-tight container in the pantry so it will retain its flavor.”

Shop strange sources.

Think beyond supermarkets. “The food departments of TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and Marshall’s can carry high-quality coffee for as little as $5 a pound,” says Chef Jill Houk. “Ethnic grocers can offer similar deals.”

Another good option: Warehouse clubs, where you’ll get discounts for buying in bulk.

Source coupons.

Savings expert Andrea Woroch recommends signing up for email newsletters for favorite brands and regularly checking their web sites, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages for deals.

Medaglia d’Ora Coffee recently offered a free sample to people who “liked” their Facebook page, and Eight O’ Clock Coffee’s web site has a coupon for $1 off any bag.

BYOC.

“If you bring your own reusable cup or coffee mug you save 10 cents 
on the price of your drink,” says Freeman.

Even saving a paper cup can get you as much as 50 cents off a refill during the same visit, depending on the shop.

Rethink your drink.

“Not only will customers help 
that other New Year’s resolution of losing 5 pounds, but customers will save 
big money by ordering simple drinks like coffee, espresso or a cappuccino,” says Chuck Patton, owner of BirdRockCoffee.com.

He continues, “Milk can be more expensive for a coffee roaster than coffee.”

Modify single-brew cups.

“If you’re a Keurig lover, like me, you have to learn to make your own K cups with the reusable My K-Cup,” says Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.com.

He adds, “For under $10 you can make your own K-cups and they’ll literally cost you 3 to 5 cents per cup, rather than the expensive pre-packed K-cups than can run up to 90 cents each. Over the course of a year you can easily save hundreds of dollars and get a great cup of coffee every time.”

Join frequent-buyer programs.

Shops usually have loyalty programs, whether you’re buying a fresh cup or beans to brew your own at home. You might get better pricing, or more commonly, a free coffee every few visits.

With that in mind, Patton suggests timing your visit. “Buy your pounds of coffee in the morning, when you really want
 that free cup of coffee,” he says.

Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.