Frugal Flips for the Not-So-Extreme Cheapskate, Part 3


As of this past March I’ve been posting monthly tips for saving money, which I’m calling “frugal flips.” So far, the flips I’ve shared in this series have the potential to save around $1973 a year.

Frugal Flip #6: Re-think your coffee brewing method

This one will be especially useful for those of you who regularly make your own coffee at home with a single cup brewing machine, such as a Keurig. If you’ve been thinking about getting one you may also want to keep reading.

Coffee connoisseurs have turned up their noses at these machines, insisting fresh ground beans and European brewing methods are the only way to produce a palatable cup of java. While I agree coffee certainly tastes better made that way, sometimes convenience trumps quality.

Back in the day (when there were no small children in my life), I was somewhat of a coffee snob, but I’m not ashamed to say now I love my Keurig. With very little effort, I can have a good enough steaming cup of coffee each morning in under a minute. No muss, no fuss. What I don’t love is the expense. The pre-packaged pods of coffee (aka, K-cups) designed specifically to fit in single cup brewers, typically cost up to $1 per pod. That’s the equivalent of $45 a pound! For coffee! And it’s not even the super fancy exotic kind.

My policy whenever I’ve bought these pre-packaged pods has been to only buy them on sale or in bulk, so my typical average cost per pod is around $0.63. But that’s still rather expensive for an ordinary cup of home brewed coffee, especially when you consider that brewing the old-fashioned way only costs about $0.25 or less per cup.

So, why not just kick it old school? Wouldn’t that save a ton of money? Maybe, but not always. And here again, convenience wins. I don’t always have time to wait for a whole pot of coffee to brew, and often I’m the only one who drinks coffee made at home on any given morning. Traditional coffee brewing systems require you to make at least two cups at a time. Since I usually only drink one cup a day I’d have to pour out the extra one. Thus, my old-school coffee would end up costing about the same as a low-end K-cup.

It would seem the cheapskate in me has made peace with my relatively expensive one-cup-at-a-time coffee habit. Sort of, but not really. Doing the math for this post has changed my perspective. Using K-cups consistently throughout the course of a year in my home would cost about $460. Ouch! But, as you should expect by now, there is a way to flip this pricey habit over to the frugal side.

For under $10 you can invest in one of many different types of refillable pods. Some have a mesh screen attached that serves as a reusable filter. Others require a separate disposable filter. I’ve tried both types. The reusable filter model is, of course, the most frugal option, but not the most convenient. Cleaning the grounds out of the screen takes a bit of work. My favorite by far is one of the disposable filter models. It takes less than half a minute to load and clean-up is a snap.


This frugal flip has dropped my family’s cost of single serve coffee brewing down to $0.22/cup on average, or about $160/year, for a total annual savings of $300. Now, that’s a habit I can really make peace with.

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Friday, 22 September 2017