Rusty is a writer, proofreader, and editor living in Michigan. She's obsessed with movies and can never have enough coffee.
My Name's Rusty and I'm a Coffee Addict
It's true. I never turn down a cup of Joe no matter the source, and this became a multifaceted problem. Not only did my creamy coffees contribute to my growing waistline, but they also helped drain my wallet. As if the coffee addiction wasn't bad enough on its own, it was made worse by the fact that it almost always came from an overpriced café. It got to the point where I couldn’t even walk into a bookstore without veering into the adjoining coffee shop for a latte before browsing. Once funds started to get tight in my house, it didn’t take long to discover that the unnecessary coffee outings were huge contributors to the war my wallet was losing. Turns out I was spending approximately $100 a month on fancy coffees! I had two options: go broke or brew better java at home. I chose the latter.
Beginning the Caffeine Routine at a Young Age
I grew up in the home of two well-caffeinated parents and had a steaming mug of my very own well before I was a teenager (don’t worry, it didn’t stunt my growth). So I was fully aware of how to brew a pot of coffee at home . . . I just didn’t want to do it. Was that out of laziness? Yeah, that was probably a decent contributing factor, but mostly it was because I didn’t think I could make fancy, fun flavors in my own kitchen. It turns out that I was wrong. There are definitely ways of making delicious coffee at home for a fraction of the price and a fraction of the calories.
If you’re one of those die hard coffee fans that drink it bitter side up, a.k.a black, more power to you (no extra calories). But for anyone out there who is like me, and loves a sweet cup of coffee, this is for you. You don’t even need a special coffee pot. I own a very reliable Keurig single cup coffee maker with multiple reusable filters.
Reusable filters are sold separately, but they're a fantastic purchase if you’re looking to save money and the environment. The individual coffee pods can be fun, because you get to try many different flavors. But if you know what you like, then a reusable filter will definitely save you money down the road, as the pods can be kind of pricey.
A Clean Coffee Maker Is a Happy Coffee Maker
The first step toward a tasty homemade brew is coffee maker cleanliness. Nothing can ruin the experience faster than a dirty coffee maker. My preferred method is super cheap and involves distilled white vinegar and water. The magic ratio is one part vinegar to every two parts water.
Create a full batch of this mixture and pour it into the reservoir of your coffee maker (you know, the place where you put the water) and, after making sure that you have a large cup ready to catch the water, start brewing until your reservoir is empty. Repeat this step if your coffee maker has never been cleaned.
Once you have finished with the vinegar and water you should run a batch of only water through the maker, this is the rinsing step. I usually do this only once, but you may repeat this step as many times as you feel comfortable.
Clean your coffee pot as often as you like. Some recommend once a month, but I usually only do it if I start noticing that my coffee tastes a bit off.
Choose Your Coffee Destiny
Now that you have a clean coffee brewer we can get into the fun stuff, taste! You will need to buy your coffee. Now that you’re saving money by avoiding the cafés you can afford to splurge on the fancy “grind your own" beans if you want. My local store has some pretty fantastic smelling selections. I keep it simple and tend to bounce back and forth between a few brands, Green Mountain, Starbucks, and Gevalia. I’ve tried the store brands before and I have to admit, I’m not a big fan. Of course you’re more than welcome to experiment.
How Sweet It Is
If you’re looking to cut back on calories without sacrificing taste I have the perfect solution for you. Rather than loading your coffee with sugar use a no calorie sweetener instead. My brand of choice is Stevia Extract in the Raw, but I have also used Truvia and both are really good. What I like about both Stevia Extract in the Raw and Truvia is that they are natural zero calorie sweeteners derived from the Stevia plant as opposed to other brands that use chemicals to give you the sweet without the fat.
My next suggestion is for my fellow latte junkies. Did you know that a tall mocha latte from a café can contain approximately 240 calories? And that’s most likely without the delicious whipped cream they elegantly, and abundantly, swirl on top. That’s a lot of calories to be ingesting in a matter of minutes. If you want a hot (or cold) caffeinated treat that tastes great but doesn’t rapidly increase your pants size I suggest flavored liquid creamers.
I use Silk brand almond creamer because it's delicious. Besides great taste the best part of flavored creamers is the calorie counts, but it is important to remember that moderation is still a great skill to exercise. I highly recommend always measuring your creamer by using a teaspoon or tablespoon. Measuring makes you aware of exactly how many calories you ingest in one sitting as well as helps you to create the exact same flavor combination every time. Knowledge truly is power when it comes to tackling any sort of lifestyle change. A one tablespoon serving of the almond creamer I use is just 20 calories. That means it would take 12 tablespoons of this creamer to equal the same calorie count as the fancy café coffee I mentioned earlier and, trust me, you won't need 12 tablespoons to make your coffee creamy and delicious.
So not only is brewing and sweetening your home brewed coffee better for your waistline, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper for your wallet as well. I was able to purchase a 32 oz carton of Silk almond creamer for $3.99 on a recent shopping trip. That means that for less than the cost of one latte at a fancy café I am able to flavor multiple cups of delicious home brewed coffee. For a coffee addict like me, that's money well spent.
In the End, It’s All About Personal Preference
If you absolutely cannot tear yourself away from that café atmosphere, have extra money to pour down the drain, and have the metabolism of an athletic teenager then, by all means, go crazy for café coffee, but if you’re anything like me you might want to seriously consider my suggestions.
By utilizing these coffee calorie cutting skills and applying similar strategies to other food-related areas of my life I’ve been able to lose 24 lbs in three months (with minimal exercise) just from adjusting what I put into my body. That might not sound like a big achievement, but for me it’s a huge step toward bettering myself. By reassessing my unnecessary spending on things such as lattes I have been able to watch my body slim down while giving my wallet a chance to gain substance. There’s no better trade off than that.
C Levrow (author) from Michigan on May 26, 2011:
Thank you for your comment, ahostagesituation! I always appreciate hearing from other addicts! I haven't tried Agave, but I would love to! I hear you can bake with that as well. I will have to get to the store and pick some up! Thanks!
SJ on May 26, 2011:
This made me giggle a lot. So funny. Since my actual doctor told me to cut down on coffee and I mentioned to her that I'd rather have a clitoris-ectomy (with a straight and calm demeanor), I think that qualifies me as addict. The money--200 dollars a month sounds perfectly reasonable to me...for coffee. Also shows I have a problem. I really need to work on it, but it's so wonderful. Why must it be so wonderful? Thanks also for your tips on cutting cost and cutting down. When I want healthy sugar alternatives I like Agave...have you tried it? It's cheap at trader joe's or costco. I prefer it over Stevia, see what you think.
C Levrow (author) from Michigan on January 22, 2011:
Thanks for the comment Elefanza. I appreciate it. The vinegar and water really does the trick when my maker starts going wonky! The 24lbs were nice, but it's time to get back on track and try to lose more! It's so hard when there are so many delicious things to eat!
Elefanza from Somewhere in My Brain on January 22, 2011:
I'll have to keep the cleaning tips in mind for my coffee maker. It still looks so nicely new that cleaning hasn't been too much of an issue. That's awesome that you lost 24 pounds! Especially around the holidays. I do good when I'm not around free food and I'm getting better at ordering in restaurants, but it's still a fight. I'm looking into getting a gym membership just to keep working out. I have a subscription to audible and am hoping to listen to more of my current read while doing an elliptical or treadmill. Good hub!
C Levrow (author) from Michigan on December 28, 2010:
Thanks for the comment M.T. Dremer. I also enjoy Biggby and Tim Horton's just on special occasions.
M. T. Dremer from United States on December 28, 2010:
Wonderful hub! I didn't get into coffee until a few years ago, but I've quickly discovered how good it can be (with the right mixture). I still like to get a frozen coffee every once and a while (preferably from a Biggby or Tim Hortons) but these are great suggestions for good everyday coffee.