A long time ago, I couldn’t understand how people can spend $3-$5 on a single cup of coffee every day. But then I moved to an apartment and a job that put Starbucks in my path every day, and before I knew it I was what I’d always despised. I was spending $20-$30 a week on coffee, and while I rarely opted for the more expensive lattes or frappes, I would go for that venti (and usually didn’t even finish it).
After trying all sorts of things, switching to tea, waking up early to brew a pot, using a smart switch to automate that process, I finally found something that worked for me. I spent around $50, two weeks’ worth of Starbucks runs, to finally ditch my overspending habits.
The real key to making the switch from daily coffee runs to saving all sorts of money, for me, was to not settle for a less-than-perfect cup of coffee, or cut corners on the devices and ingredients I use. So here are the things that really helped me break my bad coffee shop habit for good. Maybe something I found will work for you too!
1. A fancy cold brew maker
I have a drip coffee maker that I use on occasion, and a French press that I wish I was cool enough to use more. But neither one was easy enough for me to deal with every morning. So when my boyfriend surprised me with a cold brew coffee maker, I was wary. Would this be another thing taking up space in our already overcrowded kitchen? But then he showed me what he got me. It was sleek and fancy. I mean, the sieve for the coffee beans is cut by a laser so the holes are insanely tiny and less bits get through. I started to get a little excited.
It is even prettier in real life, let me tell you. The glass carafe is made with that super thin, lightweight glass that feels fragile but is actually quite sturdy (but is not dishwasher safe!). And I can make it at night and have it ready to go in the morning, which is great because I am not a morning person. I roll out of bed and stumble to the train. A quick pit stop in my kitchen and I’m good to go.
The best cold brew maker we’ve ever tested costs $7 less, is dishwasher safe, and is air tight so it can be stored on its side. It’s great for versatile storage if fridge space is limited. But I like the luxury feel and look of this one. I know it’s cheesy, but I feel a little classy using it.
- Get the Willow & Everett Cold Brew Coffee Maker for $24.99
- Get the Takeya Cold Brew Coffee Maker for $18.99
2. A travel cup you’ll look forward to using
Part of my inability to resist Starbucks is the habit of holding and drinking from a big cup with a straw. I knew if that if I was actually going to use my cold brew maker every day, I’d need a good one.
I found mine at a secondhand store for $1. It holds more than enough to last for my commute, it’s filled with glitter, and it’s just a little ridiculous, which amuses me to no end. You can get a similar one, never before used, for around $10-$15 if you want to add some more sparkle to your mornings too.
Find a cup that you love and are happy about using. Whether you want a double-walled cup with a reusable straw (we tested them to find the best), or a travel mug that works hot or cold, or one that looks like the plastic cups you’re so used to, having one you will actually use is essential. Make sure it’s dishwasher safe too, so you don’t have to think twice about having it ready to go.
Need help deciding? We recently tested all the best travel mugs for temperature control, durability, leaking, and more. There are plenty of great options to suit any lifestyle.
- Get the Slant Collections 10-oz. Double-Wall Stemless Wine Travel Cup on Amazon for $12.69+
- Get the Slant Collections 22-oz. Double-Wall Travel Tumbler on Amazon for $11.81+
3. A burr grinder for the perfect brew
I am going to sound like such a coffee snob, but a manual burr grinder is so worth the effort. Pre-ground coffee doesn’t taste as good as fresh ground, because the grinding process expresses the oils in the beans, and it evaporates or dissipates quickly. Some coffee experts say you should use the beans within a couple hours of grinding them.
A power grinder pulverizes the beans into a fine powder, but for cold brew, you want bigger chunks. With a manual burr grinder like this one, you can adjust how coarse the beans are to find the perfect setting for your taste. I especially love that it’s small, comes apart easily, and it holds exactly as much as I need for one batch of cold brew! The burr itself is also made of ceramic, which JavaPresse claims allows for a more consistent and precise grind.
If you prefer the ease of an electric grinder, we tested all the best blade and burr grinders to help you find what you need.
4. Chocolate milk that makes my drinks perfect
OK let me explain this one. I usually opt for almond milk and sugar-free syrups in my coffee. I know that stuff is gross, but it’s easy. So, to make sure my at-home coffee was not just as good, but much better than my Starbucks usuals, I decided to grab some chocolate milk.
It’s a trick I picked up when I was working weekends at my friends’ diner a few years back, and one of those things that everyone says “I can’t believe I’ve never thought of that” when I share the secret. I found this chocolate milk, which has 13 grams of protein in every cup, and who doesn’t need more protein (and an excuse to drink chocolate milk)?
Using chocolate milk to sweeten and lighten my coffee makes every morning instead of the “normal” way makes every cup a special treat. But the added protein is perfect for my nutritional needs and definitely better than artificially sweetened syrups from the coffee shop. So it’s a win-win!
I haven’t yet found my favorite beans, or they’d be on this list too. But I buy a new kind every time to get an idea of what I do and don’t like, which makes it more of a journey and gives me another reason to keep going.
Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but may change over time.