The Cheapest Way To Get Your Coffee Fix: A Comparison Of Coffee Beans, K Cups, And More

The Cheapest Way To Get Your Coffee Fix: A Comparison Of Coffee Beans, K Cups, And More

If you're like most Canadians, chances are you had some coffee today – maybe you're even drinking a cup right now.

But do you know how much your coffee fix costs you every day?

Especially if you like stopping by your closest Timmies (or the more expensive alternative, Starbucks) for your morning brew...

Though admittedly a bit more work, making your coffee at home can not only get you better tasting coffee, but it can also save you big money.

And no, I'm not talking about shoving a kcup in your Keurig...I mean genuine, brewed coffee made from your favourite beans and brewed to perfection (whatever perfection is for you).

So let's look at:

Coffee shops vs making at home

Though cafés provide a great atmosphere for catching up with some friends, frequent trips can really start to cost you after a while.

Not only financially, factoring in the cost for transportation and profit-driven prices, but the environment pays a price too...

Environmental impacts

On top of your extra gas emissions, especially if you're a frequent rush-hour-drive-thru attender, we know big companies aren't always the most eco-friendly.

Some are definitely better than others, but the amount of waste produced by daily coffee consumption can be greatly decreased if we primarily used our reusable mugs...And that's not something the companies can easily change.

There’s a wide selection of organic, fair trade, and eco-friendly options available for home brewing – that are also very tasty.

Check out Laughing Whale Coffee Roasters, for example. They're a Nova Scotia-based coffee company who are all about reducing their carbon footprint with some innovative solutions.

Convenience

And what about the time cost? If the only time you can take a trip to the coffee shop is at a busy hour, you'll be spending a lot of time in line. Brewing a coffee at home can cut this time down.

Not to mention you don't have to leave the comfort of your home to get a fresh cup of coffee, no matter what time of day it is.

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Cost analysis of your coffee options

But let's talk money.

How much are your coffee choices costing you per cup?

Using the top 3 products on Amazon.ca, here are the averages for each method:

Method Average price per cup (14oz)
Preground $0.57
Instant coffee $0.59
K-cups $0.60
Whole beans $0.64
Buying from a coffee shop $1.87

Note: Whole bean ounce weight was calculated assuming a 1.5g/oz ratio. Instant coffee weight assumed 2tsp per cup.

Buying from McDonald's, Starbucks, Tim Hortons, or Second Cup

Coffee place Price Size (oz) Cost per oz Cost per cup (14oz)
Tim Hortons (large) $1.99 14 $0.14 $1.99
McDonald's (medium) $1.29 15 $0.09 $1.20
Starbucks (medium) $2.45 16 $0.15 $2.14
Second Cup (medium) $2.45 16 $0.15 $2.14
Average $2.05 - $0.13 $1.87

It's no real surprise that buying your coffee at one of these places is the most expensive way to get your fix.

Though they have loyalty programs, the price to pay for any real return can be quite steep.

Related: New Tim Hortons Reward Program: Tims Rewards

Instant coffee

Product Price Size (g) # of cups Cost per cup (14oz)
Nescafe Espresso $9.69 100 12 $0.81
Nescafe Gold Espresso $6.56 100 12 $0.55
Nescafe Taster's Choice Classic $11.94 250 30 $0.40
Average $9.40 - - $0.59

It may be cheap...but let's be honest, is it real coffee?

K-Cup pods

Product Price Number of pods Cost per pod
Keurig All-Time Favorite Coffees $19.99 30 $0.67
Donut Shop Coffee Favorites $23.99 40 $0.60
Crazy Cups Coffee Variety Sampler $30.12 40 $0.75
Average $24.70 - $0.67

Though K-Cup pods are among the easiest at-home methods, the quality is among the worst.

The price is better than buying at coffee shops, but still not the lowest you can get – not to mention the serious environmental impacts of using single-use plastic cups.

Pre-ground coffee

Product Price Size (g) Size (oz) Cost per oz Cost per cup (14oz)
Kicking Horse Dark Roast $11.48 295 197 $0.06 $0.82
Van Houtte Belgian Chocolate Light Roast $7.99 340 227 $0.04 $0.49
McCafe Premium Roast $17.97 950 633 $0.03 $0.40
Average $12.48 - - $0.04 $0.57

Pre-ground is more convenient than whole bean, since you don't have to grind the beans yourself.

The taste does suffer a bit compared to whole bean coffee, but it stills falls strongly in the middle of the taste spectrum.

Coffee beans

Product Price Size (g) Size (oz) Cost per oz Cost per cup (14oz)
Kicking Horse Dark Roast $15.49 381 254 $0.06 $0.85
Bean Head #1 Canadian Organic $13.49 399 266 $0.05 $0.71
Lavazza Espresso Rossa $16.47 1000 667 $0.02 $0.35
Average $15.15 - - $0.05 $0.64

My preferred method, coffee beans give the purest and best (in my opinion) coffee taste.

A downside is that whole beans require a bit of extra equipment to really be convenient, most notably a coffee bean grinder.

But trust me when I say the taste is worth it.

Cost of coffee per cup

Interested in the cost per cup for your favourite coffee beans?

Simply enter the price and the weight (in grams) in the following widget, and it'll let you know how much each cup costs you (assuming a 1.5g/oz ratio).

  

Cost Per Cup: 0

Guide for the best home-brewed coffee

If you want to make the switch to home-brewed coffee, the first thing you need to know is where to start.

French press coffee is considered one of the best methods of making coffee. Here's how you can get started.

All about coffee beans

Becoming a respected coffee connoisseur is all about familiarizing yourself with coffee beans.

Types of coffee beans

Coffee beans come in a variety of types, usually indicated by the region they were grown in, some of the most popular being Colombia, Kona, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

These regional types usually fall into 2 categories: Robusta or Arabica.

Essentially, Arabica is a low-yield bean – which means it needs more love and care to be harvested. It's generally considered to taste better because of it's lower caffeine and higher sugar concentration. These things naturally make Arabica beans more expensive than it's Robusta countertype.

Do coffee beans expire? What's the best way to store coffee beans?

Coffee beans expire in the sense that they can lose most of their flavour. Air is the biggest cause of this, so it's best to find an air-tight container to help keep your beans fresh.

Generally speaking, the closer to the roast date you can get, the better your coffee will taste.

French press guide

Though it needs a bit more equipment compared to other methods, french press coffee is considered one of the best ways to brew your coffee.

It's best made with whole beans since you have control over the grind size – it needs a coarser grind than the pre-ground coffee you buy for drip and pour-over methods.

What you need to make french press coffee

The first thing you need to do is get the proper equipment. Here are a couple examples of some good options.

A kettle

Nothing fancy needed here, just something that will let you easily heat up water to the proper temperature. You could go super basic with the AmazonBasics Stainless Steel Electric Kettle for $27.94, for example.

French press

A good option for the french press is the Bodum Brazil 8-Cup Coffee Press for $27.00. It's cost effective and well reviewed, letting you brew your coffee in 4 minutes.

Grinder

A grinder may not be needed if you buy whole beans from a place that can grind them for you. Keep in mind you need a coarse grind for best results.

There are two types of grinders out there – blade and burr. I recommend a burr grinder for the french press method since it’s more consistent and less likely to produce fine particles of coffee that could eventually make their way into your cup.

A good option is the Cuisinart Supreme Automatic Burr Mill for $61.99, but if you don't mind hand-grinding and want to save a few extra bucks, the Midas Portable Grinder will work for you at less than half the price.

What about you?

What are your coffee drinking habits? Do you know how much it's costing you on average?

Let us know in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

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Comments

Marni Andrews
Marni Andrews's picture

Kicking Horse organic/fair trade coffee which is roasted in BC is hands down the best option. Coffee has a huge amount of pesticides applied, and I say "No, thanks" to that! Further, Kicking Horse can be bought on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart for $12 for a 454 g package of whole beans. That's dirt cheap for organic great coffee. I but it in bulk and grind about a week's worth of beans at a time (my compromise between fresh ground vs the time commitment).

February 20, 2019 @ 2:18 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

Great suggestion, thank you Marni!

February 25, 2019 @ 1:52 pm
Danny Jellis
Danny Jellis's picture

For some reason COSTCO dosn't show up in any of your graphs. I heartily recommend purchasing Starbucks French Roast coffee beans at COSTCO and grinding your own beans in a twenty dollar grinder. The taste is equivalent to a five dollar cup of coffee at Starbucks. I use a drip percolator (which has a timer) and can be prepared to provide a delicious cup of Starbucks equivalent first thing in the morning. this is after years of experimenting with instant coffee (yuk) french presses,(to much caffeine ) and finally the drip percolator which I purchased at walmart for about 30 bucks.

February 20, 2019 @ 2:23 pm
Richard
Richard's picture

Firstly, where does the notion of French Press coffee containing more caffeine come from?
Secondly, why does no one ever consider the Italian Style stove top coffee makers which are both economical and deliver great tasting expresso coffee?
From recent experience the Italian type is more economical than the French Press makers.
Richard

February 20, 2019 @ 10:44 pm
Rob Duncan
Rob Duncan's picture

Stephen,
I usually agree with you, but not today.
Grabbing a coffee from a drive thru is usually a lot faster than making it at home. McD’s as you documented is quite reasonable and uses Tim’s old blend, which is rated #1.
Kuering tastes good to me and is always fresh because the pods are sealed until used. Some Kuerig cups can be disassembled and the plastic portion recycled.
Use a travel mug and save many paper cups from the landfill.
Rob

February 20, 2019 @ 2:23 pm
Darin
Darin's picture

Plus it's any size for $1 until March 3rd.

February 20, 2019 @ 3:02 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

Hello Rob,

You can definitely be in and out of a drive-thru fairly quick if you're able to time it right, but commuting during rush hour times can often make it not worth it, depending on your route.

Keurig is definitely stepping up their game in the ecological aspect – hopefully they keep it up. It's certainly a very convenient method.

Thanks for your comment!

February 25, 2019 @ 1:51 pm
George
George's picture

For Starbucks, with a Gold card, you are entitled to a free refill. So If you stay there for a few minutes, order any smaller size and then ask for your free refill. Plus bring your own cup/mug for a $.10 discount. I order a Tall and request "no room" and skip the refill. Every now and then they say, sorry this is a Grande mug, you get room. So I say ok, add the free refill. One location even scanned my card to add the extra 2 ounces of coffee. I called Starbucks head office to make sure this was ok (no room).

Maybe nine times out of ten, the "no room" request is granted with no hesitation. With the other ones, I just battle. Probably the funniest was the person who measured the coffee into a Tall cup and then poured it into my Grande cup. When a manager was informed that I called Starbucks head office to make sure my "no room" and skip the refill was ok, she said "Of course they would agree with you." Howard, where are you when we need you?

At home, the pour-over method works best for me. I buy my beans at Longo's or Starbucks on double-star days. This usually works out to $.70/large mug. The French Press method takes longer and is just a major pain to clean-up. Plus I use a burr grinder.

February 20, 2019 @ 7:35 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

Hey George,

That's a great way to take advantage of your free refill. Thanks for the tip!

February 25, 2019 @ 1:51 pm
PARG
PARG's picture

You missed Club Coffee @Costco.ca
50 cents per fully compostable Keurig capsule. Decaf and other blends are excellent.

February 20, 2019 @ 10:48 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

Thanks for pointing this out! No surprise that Costco's prices are better – we'll include them next time we do a price comparison. We stuck to Amazon products for the sake of the article, but taking that trip to Costco can make most of these numbers much better.

February 25, 2019 @ 1:51 pm
Sam
Sam's picture

Couldn't help myself so did a little test and came up with $0.38 for a 14 oz size (same as in the example) using coffee beans ground up and run through your basic Cuisinart coffee maker.

I am rather particular about my coffee and have found my "best way" is to purchase the 1.13 kg bag of Starbucks coffee beans at Costco; we use about 2 bags/month so I stock up when they have a promotion with around $5 off. Extra bonus is the Starbucks Rewards coupons (usually 20 stars) on the side.

My calculations used:
> $25 per 1.13 kg bag at Costco (which is 2.2 cents/gram)
> 1.2 grams of coffee beans per fluid oz of coffee which means 17 grams required per 14 oz cup of coffee

Regarding brand of coffee beans, have tried pretty much everything (yes, every Kicking House blend also) and keep coming back to Starbucks French Roast, nothing really compares for a good basic cup of strong coffee.

February 21, 2019 @ 12:19 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

Sounds like you really did your research. Thanks for your comment, Sam!

February 25, 2019 @ 1:52 pm
Mary Axford
Mary Axford's picture

I have used instant coffee for 40 years and rarely buy coffee when I am out. I hate spending money on something I can make at home. If I am meeting a friend for coffee, I will order green tea at Tim Horton's or Starbucks as I do not like their coffee. I will drink Second Cups and McDonald's coffee. It takes me a while to fill up a loyalty card with McDonald's, but will use it when I do.

February 21, 2019 @ 2:33 pm
Belinda Sayeau
Belinda Sayeau's picture

Hi Steve,
I personally LOVE my Melitta Pour-Over (found at good ol' Canadian retailer Giant Tiger) - and their ground coffee is also excellent!
Thanks, Belinda

February 22, 2019 @ 2:04 pm
HowToSaveMoney Team
HowToSaveMoney Team's picture

Hey Belinda,

I'll have to check it out, thanks for the recommendation!

February 25, 2019 @ 1:53 pm
Ian McEwen
Ian McEwen's picture

My cheapest way to make a good cup of coffee is buy the large tin of Kirkland (about 11.80) or a large tin of Nabob coffee (often on sale for 9.99). We stock up on VanHoutte butterscotch when it's on sale (7.99). We then mix half and half in the drip coffee machine. The coffee is very tasty and with 7 coffee scoops we get 3 LARGE mugs - 9 cups. A Kuerig pod only fills just over half of the same mug.

February 27, 2019 @ 1:31 am
François Gohier
François Gohier's picture

Coffee consumption is a most repetitive and habit forming behaviour. We do exactly the same thing for the past fourty years as to coffee buying and drinking:

Purchase every six months 10kg of a special mix from Union Coffee in Montreal in bags of 500gr, ground (machine set at 2.5) for our Pavoni Professional (with the lever). It is delivered to our place in the Laurentians (nowadays). An order of approx 320$.

The bags are put in two large air-tight plastic containers. This lasts six months. The last bag is as good as the first!

We also have a Nespresso machine. The intent was to vary in taste. After years of using this, disappointment: only a few (the strongest options) are worth pursuing. Cosly but convenient when guests at home.

February 27, 2019 @ 5:45 am
Kerry
Kerry's picture

I'm with Sam. I've been buying Costco/Starbucks for years. Good price, really good coffee. Better I find than at Starbucks itself. I make it in a deLonghi Magnifico which grinds and makes a perfect Americano. My wife doesn't like it and buys Kirkland ground coffee, also a good price, and uses a basic drip machine.

February 27, 2019 @ 5:46 am
Brian
Brian's picture

Since a trip to Europe a year ago my wife and I are hooked on espresso coffee made with the Italian induction Stove top coffee maker. We bought a stainless steel 4 cup in Venice Italy & carried it back to Canada, unfortunately a similar model was much cheaper when we checked it out in Toronto. Ouch.
We make latte’s in the morning with lots of milk. We buy espresso preground coffee on sale for around C$3.00 a package and it lasts us around a week. It’s been great so far. A sort of Flat White.

February 27, 2019 @ 4:20 pm
David
David's picture

No name coffee is remarkably good, for the price. 100 pods for Keurig machines are $33, and are 100% compostable.

February 28, 2019 @ 8:18 am
Cheryl Grandy
Cheryl Grandy's picture

Nice to see that you mention environmental cost as well as monetary cost.

March 05, 2019 @ 5:46 pm

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