Brew Your Own Coffee

by Justin Weinger on September 5, 2006

If you’re like many of us working stiffs, you need a strong jolt of coffee each morning to get you through the morning commute and the first part of your day.  Unfortunately, far too many people are spending way too much money by stopping off at gourmet coffee shops when they could brew coffee that tastes just as good – for a fraction of the cost.

This is another one of those “small daily purchases” that doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but if you were to step back at the end of the year and realize how much money you could have saved, you would probably decide to do things a little bit differently.

For the sake of comparison, I went to both Starbucks and 7-11 to find out how much each place charges for a 12 oz cup of regular coffee.  Not surprisingly, Starbucks was more expensive, charging $1.50, while 7-11 charges “only” $1.09.

How much would it cost you to brew your own coffee in your own kitchen?  Here comes some math, so stay with me:

A 39 oz can of Folgers coffee costs about $10, and each can makes about 120 12 oz servings (according to the label).  That means each 12 oz cup of coffee should cost you about $.08 in coffee.  If you want to throw in the cost for coffee filters, water, the coffee machine, etc., each cup should cost you roughly $.10 to make.

That’s a $1.40 difference from what you’d be paying at Starbucks and a $.99 difference from what you’d be paying at 7-11.

I know that doesn’t seem like much when you look at these items as one time purchases, but if you look at these items as daily purchases over the course of a year, the money really adds up.

For example, if you bought coffee 300 days per year (we’ll say 250 working days and every Saturday), you would be spending $450 per year on Starbucks and roughly $325 per year on 7-11 coffee.  If you just brewed the coffee yourself, you’d spend about $30.

That’s a savings of about $420 per year over Starbucks and about $300 per year on “less premium” coffee.  If your vice is one of the higher priced specialty drinks (usually between $2.50 and $3.00 for a 12 oz cup), you could be looking at a savings of well over $800 per year!

No matter what you drink, the potential savings add up to a lot of money.



Jason Kratz September 22, 2006 at 8:59 am

Yeah but you’re drinking Folgers. Did you compute the cost using good coffee? Contrary to what you state the Folgers doesn’t taste just as good as the Starbucks. I’d rather spend the $1.50 a day enjoying myself vs. saving $1.40 and drinking what amounts to brown water.

Even better i’d rather not go to Starbucks and frequent a place like Intelligentsia here in Chicago where I know the farmers who provide the coffee beans get very good money for their hard work yet the cost is pretty much the same as Starbucks. When you drink Folgers you’re supporting megacorps like Proctor and Gamble who, based on the quality of the coffee, certainly don’t give a damn either about quality or the environment or the people who actually grow the coffee.

Here is an experiment to try…go buy coffee from a specialty coffee roaster and see what a difference it is (and I suspect still cheaper than buying every day from Starbucks since youre brewing it on your own). Here is a list to get started:


Lena September 22, 2006 at 7:25 pm

actually Starbucks has an odd NON-COFFEE taste to me.
There is NOTHING that beats the good old Columbian coffee taste. While Folgers isn’t my favorite, something as plain as Maxwell House IS what coffee does & should taste like. Starbucks can keep their yuck & I’ll keep my cash.

john milken September 23, 2006 at 9:26 pm

Buy good beans from a wholesaler, keep them in the freezer and grind a week’s worth each Saturday.

Lots of different brewing methods to try, but a Vietnamese coffee dripper is cheap and good, and use condensed milk if you like it sweet with a thick ‘mouth feel’.

I have the Vietnamese two or three times a day, and otherwise just make a pot, keeping excess in the fridge for iced drinks. I work from home and drink a lot of coffee. The cups I have outside almost never beat my home brew – ‘cos it’s made exactly to my taste [perhaps not yours], and never any that are worth the extra expense.

brian.carr September 24, 2006 at 6:25 pm

Thanks for the tips and thoughts.

Personally, I don’t see much of a difference in taste between what I brew at my house vs. what I can buy in a coffee shop, but my taste may be biased because I enjoy keeping my money so much!

But, like every other purchase you make, if you can afford it and it makes you happy, by all means, go buy premium coffee. Especially if you have reduced spending elsewhere, you can use “expensive” coffee as a way to treat yourself for being frugal in other aspects of your life.

John Cruise January 23, 2007 at 11:05 am

Find a local roaster, like previous posts mention. I buy my coffee from Lehigh Valley Coffee Roasting Co, in Easton, PA Their website is Even at $, you are spending $.25 per cup.

Will Sattler March 4, 2008 at 10:14 am

Jason, the idea of fair trade rings true when you are dealing with a lot of coffee vs, a very little that these micro roasters purchase. You are simply paying unfair prices to glutoneous us roasters, don’t kid yourself you pay for an image, and it will put you in the poor house. One how does fair trade work regarding the textiles you are wearing right now?

Fair Trade Certified Efforts

Do you have information about the efforts P&G is making to be good neighbors in coffee-growing countries?

Thanks for contacting us. Like you, we’re concerned about the impact of low coffee prices on farmers. We believe Fair Trade Certified Coffee is one approach to the issue. We’re proud to announce the Signature Collection by Millstone. The Signature Collection includes Mountain Moonlight Fair Trade Certified Coffee, Rainforest Alliance Certified and Cup of Excellence.

We’re also working hard to find other solutions that will result in long-term successes.
We’re working to increase coffee demand through innovative marketing and new product introductions, we’re also providing immediate support to farmers and their communities by sponsoring schools, helping to build health clinics and supporting rain forest sustainabiltiy and self-reliance. For long-term solutions to problems within the system, we’ve partnered with the National Coffee Association, Technoserve and other global organizations.

To give farmers immediate help, we’ve contributed approximately $10 million dollars in relief efforts. Here are just a few examples:
– In Guatemala, built coffee farm school. To learn more about P&G’s efforts in this area, click on this link:
– In Mexico, equipped 118 public schools with computer labs and provided more than 1800 children eyeglasses
– In Costa Rica & Brazil, managed school renovation projects using P&G employees
– In Peru, donated almost $200,000 in products and supplies to earthquake victims

We could be a company that just buys coffee beans and let it go at that. But we think it’s important to invest in the entire coffee industry so it will be successful and profitable for everyone involved, for years to come. As the demand for the Signature Collection grows, Millstone will consider offering the products in retail outlets or expanding to include other brands.

The Millstone Signature Collection is available to U.S. residents by direct order via the phone or Internet. Because of the seasonability of the blends, quantities are limited. For detailed product information as well as where you can order your preferred farmer-friendly blend, visit or call 1-800-SAY JAVA.

Guest2469 November 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I’ve looked at daily coffee the same way, in the long term. Even the budget refill at only $1 comes to $365 a year. That’s more than a budget, round trip ticket to Hawaii. Most people complain about not enough money and are envious when others travel. If you can’t even get one vacation after an entire year of toiling then it’s your pattern of thinking. You hate work so you need legal drugs to help you deal with your lack of motivation. What a vicious cycle. You not only go broke trying to keep yourself in a pretend state but after you’ve accomplished this for a year there is no reward waiting. If you feel like an unhappy cog in a cold machine and need coffee as a lubricant to keep you moving then talk to your boss about a coffee machine in the workplace. Most employers know the daily percentage of productivity goes up if you pump employees with coffee and candy. The pennies it cost per employee is well worth it considering how much a business makes per day and how little the employee is inspired to perform without being drugged. Someone in their right mind would look at many of the life-suck jobs these days and start singing, “Take this job and shove it!”.

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