Saving Money

How To Save Money To Travel: Homemade Coffee Edition

“If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we shall be poor indeed.” -Edmund Burke
Black Gold

Every morning we succumb to our addiction of which we are not ashamed. Hot, black gold running down our throats. A smooth, milky latte warming up our souls. Dollar bills fleeing from their homes… It’s the painfully high, morning cost that we delightfully ignore. But what if we could heavily cut our costs and maintain the quality of pure joy? Homemade coffee is our answer. Homemade lattes are our money savers.

We need to save money where we can and our morning delight is a great place to start. I’m sure you’ve read about how you should stop getting your morning latte to save for retirement but do you really need to give it up? Of course not. There are definitely ways to cut costs and still be able to enjoy heaven’s drink which we all so desperately desire.

There are so many varieties and creation methods of black gold and the final product. I myself have 4 different coffee makers at home depending on what I want. Clearly the most used mechanism by me is the moka pot for actually any form of coffee.

coffee machines

Homemade Coffee Ingredients & Gear
The Coffee

Foodtown (NYC grocery store) Colombian Coffee ain’t bad for regular brewing. Provided that I didn’t miss count how many tablespoons are in the below container (10.5 oz / 298g) as I watched Season 11 of Criminal Minds, there are 56 tablespoons in one Foodtown Colombian Coffee can.

At $2.99 a can with 4 tablespoons to fill my moka pot, that comes to $0.21 per brew. That provides 1.5 cups of a very dark roast coffee.

Colombian coffee

La Leche

The combination of Google’s ability to provide existing measurement conversions and deciding that a decent splash is the equivalent of 3 tablespoons along with some 2nd grade math skills, I was able to calculate how much a decent splash of milk costs given the cost of a gallon of milk. Roughly $0.05. Math below:

Milk Splash

Moving past my third grade handwriting, our combined coffee & splash of milk costs per brew comes out to:


Doing a quick search on Amazon, below are the costs of the moka pot and thermos you’ll be needing:

Homemade Coffee Instructions (~8 mins)

If you don’t already know how to use a moka pot it’s really simple.

1. Unscrew it and pour water up to the valve.

moka pot

2. Put coffee in the coffee holder and place into the moka pot.

moka pot

3. Screw on the top part of the moka pot shut and turn on to low heat (~7 mins) [Pro tip: While the magic happens, brush your teeth & wash your face to return refreshed to the greatest gift sent from above]

moka pot

3.5. Boil some water on the side. Decide upon the strength of your coffee and mix. Add a splash of milk if necessary.

homemade coffee

Homemade Coffee Numbers

A few things to note:

  1. With the moka pot, you’ll get about a cup and a half of fairly strong coffee. Depending on your taste, you can combine it with hot water to reach your balanced strength.
  2. I divided the brewing investments by the number of days I’m analyzing to calculate the true cost per day for brewing homemade coffee.
  3. I look at business days (e.g. one week = five days, one month = 20 days and so on)

Given that you get a strong cup and a half of coffee, you can actually combine it with the right amount of hot water to get the equivalent strength of the various Starbucks sizes. Therefore, for comparison, the homemade black coffee costs stay the same.

Depending on what size you get, you can save between $400-$600 annually! Also, if you are brewing coffee for two and get a smaller size, then the homemade coffee costs will be cut in half!

But if straight black with the option of a splash of milk isn’t your thing, then don’t worry. Your latte is up next!

Homemade Latte: Ingredients & Gear
El Cafe

You’ll notice a difference when it comes to regular drip coffee grounds and espresso grounds (more granular). For espresso grounds, I go with my standard: Cafe Bustelo. It’s cheap yet gets the job done. Buy the largest container to get the cheapest price per pound.

Rough estimates come down to 192 tablespoons in each 36 oz container. At a cost of $13.99 and maintaining the 4 tablespoon for the moka pot, each brew costs $0.29. The coffee produced will be much closer to an espresso than dribble dabble drip.

Cafe Bustelo

The Milk

Lattes are all about that milk. We know the amount of coffee produced by the moka pot is enough for each Starbucks size. So in order to calculate some rough, estimated, equivalent costs for each Starbucks size, the milk amount used has been adjusted to the below:

El Equipo

Most important tool for a latte is a milk frother. If you’re ever in Ikea it only costs $2.79. On Amazon you can get one for about $7. You don’t need a frothing pitcher because you can froth in your cup. But if you do, you can get one for about $9.

Total gear costs including your latte equipment:

Homemade Latte Instructions (~8 mins)

Depending on what size you want, here are the measurements I used to compare to the Starbucks sizes:

1. Start off by following the previous instructions for coffee brewing. About 4 minutes in, grab yourself some milk and warm it up for a minute or more.

2. Start frothing to your liking! The milk will expand since you are adding air into it.  (Tip: The more it looks like a tornado, the more air is going in. For a regular latte you should only do that for 2-4 seconds)

3. Your Espresso should be finished by now. Poor the amount you want into a cup and add your milk.

4. That’s it! One latte coming right up!

homemade latte

Homemade Latte Numbers

Now that we know how how to make a latte, it’s time to see how much we save:

If you drink a latte a day and want to save between $700-$1,000 annually then do yourself a favor and make sure its homemade! Combine that with packing your lunch every day and your annual savings are over $2,000!

More money to go on your adventures. Save travels!

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