Clouds in My Coffee – HumbleDollar

I’M ON MY THIRD cup of coffee this morning and it dawned on me how much I’m spending on the stuff. I have one of those machines that use the little K-Cup pods, which may be the most expensive way to make coffee. I find it curious that someone who likes to think of himself as frugal makes coffee at home that can cost 70 cents or more per cup.

If I bought a pound bag of house brand—not designer—coffee, I could enjoy a cup for as little as 12 cents. Why not do that? In a word, convenience. Like many other people, I’ll pay more than five times as much for a cup of home-brewed coffee just to have it quickly and with no mess. Are we spoiled or what? There’s another advantage to the machines—variety. The cups provide an endless choice of coffee and flavors, including that fall delight known as pumpkin spice.

My machine also makes lattes and cappuccinos. The Starbucks standard price for a latte or cappuccino is $4.25. The price for a small—excuse me—“tall” coffee is $1.85. That means they’re charging an extra $2.40 for a little skim milk and perhaps some syrup to upgrade coffee into cappuccino. At that rate, my in-home convenience has a favorable price factor, though without the coffee shop ambiance.

Lattes and cappuccinos have always fascinated me. What’s the difference? Turns out there’s very little difference and it all comes down to foam. A cappuccino has more foam, while a latte has more steamed milk in the coffee and a little foam on top. The real discovery is that someone convinced us there’s a couple of dollars of value in making foamed milk. Probably the same critic who convinced us that modern abstract art was actually art.

There are many ways to make coffee. I’ve used a French press and cold brew. Both work, but they’re messy. I was in a specialty store with a large copper coffee machine on display that looked like a boiler. It was $15,000. I wonder what that amortizes to per cup?

I’m sticking with my machine, but I’m obsessed with not paying full price for my K-Cups. Fact is, every week or so, one brand is on sale, even Starbucks. I’ll buy whatever is a bargain. Every trip to the store requires a trip down the coffee aisle in my quest to save money—or is that to overspend less?

Read more by Richard Quinn

Source: Clouds in My Coffee – HumbleDollar


  1. Sorry I am a day late on this one. I enjoyed the coffee read. It makes me realize how the frugality of our younger years stays with us even at a point in our life when we can well afford the ‘luxury’ of store bought. I too must have my large mug of coffee each morning and I find the k cup isn’t big enough or hot enough but my $30 Mr.Coffee makes a piping hot pot so after brewing about about 8-9 cups at a cost of about $5.00 per pound how you can you beat it? My son bought us a neat thermos type decanter and so we pout the leftover in that and then each night I have a fresh cup of coffee after dinner with a quick 30 second warm up in the microwave. At the end of the week we probably have had about 25 Grande cups at a cost of $5.00 versus the $75 we would have spent in the local Bagel shop! As you always say there are many ways to find a path for savings , but who cares about the money I just don’t want to go out to have my morning joe!


  2. I drink a couple of cups in the morning only. Mr Coffee 12 cup drip. I used to throw out what didn’t get used but I now put it into a thermos decanter and drink it the next day with a little help from the microwave. No waste. I guess I’m just not a coffee snob.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I admit having one of the cup coffee makers. We make a regular pot every morning. On those days when the pot is not enough. I may make one or two pod cups. I also buy them on sale. The only thing I don’t like is the waste factor. I don’t believe they are recyclable yet but I have heard they are working on it.


  4. I do not drink coffee, and I am always amazed at the amount of money that people spend on this stuff at Starbucks and other places. Nevertheless, 70 cents is a small price to pay for the convenience and variety that you seem to enjoy. At your age (and mine, also), you should consider this a perk that you have earned by being frugal for most of your life. Splurge a little, and enjoy your life. Surely your heirs will not miss the money that you spend on this.


  5. Apparently today (9-29-21) is National Free Coffee day at several big name retailers for all you coffee fans. If it is not free they may have special deals.

    I worked shift work and I don’t drink coffee. But I have watch many of my co-workers who could drink a pot or two or three during a 12 hr shift.


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