If you’re looking to save some hard-earned cash, budgeteers suggest cutting the small expenses first. That’s not good news for your coffee addiction.
A 16 ounce latte at Starbucks could easily cost you over five dollars. They’ll pin you to the wall up-selling before dangling a loogie over your Caramel Macchiato for a tip. Five days a week on your way into work, and you’re spending well over a hundred dollars a month! That’s not including your brunch date with the girls.
Starbucks won’t tell you this (because they want dat moola), but it is very possible to enjoy better quality for less money (the American Dream!) by simply being your own barista.
Learn how to buy excellent coffee, invest in the right equipment, and develop the expertise. Not only will it save you money in the long run, but you can make coffee just as good (if not better) than your hipster barista thinking more about the screenplay he’ll never write than your much-needed caffeine fix.
So, here’s how to enjoy better coffee for less.
Buy Excellent Coffee
The right equipment and expertise do little if you don’t buy quality coffee. Even a pro barista can’t do much good with bad beans. Fortunately, you can buy a bag of excellent coffee for as much money as you spend at Starbucks in one to three days. Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Avoid buying pre-ground beans and any coffee that has an expiration date. What you want is whole-bean coffee with a roast date no more than a couple weeks before date of purchase. In other words: Expiration Date = Bad / Roast Date = Good.
2. If you can sneak a peak at the beans, note their appearance. Don’t buy black or oily looking beans. You’re looking for dry beans with a light to medium brown color.
3. Don’t buy from a large chain grocery store. Find a local roaster near you, order online from a reputable roaster, or sign up for a coffee subscription service.
Invest In The Right Equipment
If you’re a black coffee kind of connoisseur, purchase a gooseneck kettle, a pour-over apparatus, a burr grinder, and a kitchen scale. At home, I have the Fellow Stagg Gooseneck Kettle; a Virtuoso grinder; and I have a Hario v60, Chemex, French Press, and a Kalita Wave. You don’t need to get all of those right away, but all are great options for the beginner barista.
The pour-over approach gives you maximum control of all the elements, producing a cleaner and tastier beverage than your Mr. Coffee or Keurig could even dream of providing. The French Press (an immersion method) provides a thicker cup of coffee and requires a little less technique.
For the latte lovers out there, don’t give up on home barista-ing yet! There are a multitude of great options for kitchen counter espresso machines.
Develop The Expertise
Whether you’re looking to up your brew game or your latte love, each method of extraction has its own technique. Everything takes time and practice which is why it’s important to develop the expertise.
There are countless online articles and videos steeped in coffee geekery. In fact, there’s so much it can be pretty overwhelming. And, while I have learned a lot from the World Wide Web (and continue to do so and you should too), the most beneficial barista training I’ve received is in-person, hands-on experience.
So, quit wasting your money on mediocre beans, poor brewing methods, or expensive coffee drinks! If you’re in Michigan, feel free to sign up for the “Be Your Own Barista” Workshop to learn tips, tricks, and techniques for how to get the most out of your at-home coffee experience.
You can make coffee that you actually enjoy and save money in the process. I promise.