Sep 7, 2010

How to save money at coffee shops

As I sit in Borders with my Seattles Best iced coffee, which consequently is disgusting, I think about the short interaction I had with the barista to change the amount of product I received for the price.

Without a coupon or a discount card, you are a slave to the rising costs of coffee and the extremely overpriced, delicious specialty and iced drinks such as lattes, frappes, macchiato and the beloved iced coffee, which I have previously admitted my infatuation for. But, don't sit back in take it. Here are few quick tips on how to change your coffeehouse experience for the better and leave with more monies in your pocket.

1. You don't need room for creamer. In most coffee shops, when ordering a cup of coffee or an iced coffee or anything you might add creamer to, the barista will often ask, "would you like room for creamer?" I believe they are trained to say that because it is a way for coffeehouses to give you less coffee...and they definitely give you less coffee.

For instance, just a few moments ago, my roommate indicated she would like room for cream and they gave her about 1/2 inch less coffee (surely she would never put that much cream in). I responded "no thank you" to the question but I still had plenty of room to add lots of cream and sugar...and I do mean lots. In the event that they do indeed give you so much coffee that you do not have room, simple take a sip before adding cream and sugar.

2. Save on iced drinks. I asked for less ice for the first time a few weeks ago at a coffeehouse, assuming they might charge me more for my drink but they did not. Have you ever gotten an iced drink and gulped it down in two sips? Why? It's got so much gosh darned ice in it, there's barely any drink. Ask for light ice, you'll get more coffee for your dollar.

3. Pick up a discount hole-punch card. If it's a place you frequent or even hit every once and while, grab a card. If the shop offers every 10th drink for free, that's a 10% discount on your drinks, assuming you get a lavishly expensive drink on your freebie, which you definitely should.

4. Bring in your own cup. Many coffee places will give you a percentage off or give you a larger size if you bring in your own cup for them to fill.

5. Don't buy coffee, make it yourself. If you're in the habit of buying a regular or iced coffee in the morning, save some real cash and turn on your coffeemaker in the morning. At first it will be difficult to make the transition, but trust me, once you're in the habit you'll wonder why you wasted so much cash on something you can brew yourself. Making the perfect iced coffee can be tricky, be sure to read up on how to make one as good as Dunkin's.

Since I'm addicted to specialty coffee, I actually got an espresso machine for around $35 and bought Starbucks chocolate to make my mochas at home. It's definitely paid for itself since I got it.

As you can tell, I really love coffee and I do spend a fare share of cash on it, but at least I've got it down to a science. Try to enjoy your back-to-work Tuesday and don't forget to turn on the coffeepot in the morning.
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