Last Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Whether it’s for long nights of finishing up assignments and studying or a morning pick-me-up, coffee is important to a lot of college students. But coffee can also be an expensive habit, especially when you’re getting a few cups of store-bought coffee every day. Plus, given the college lifestyle, a coffee shop may not always be accessible at the times you need it most. Here are some coffee hacks you can use to your advantage to cut down on costs but still enjoy your coffee to the fullest.
1. Brew it in your dorm
Brewing coffee yourself is the most inexpensive and efficient way to get your coffee fix. If you have room for it, get a coffee maker. If space is tight in your dorm, several quality coffee makers are sleek and space-saving, so find what works best for you. All you need after that is some water and pre-ground coffee.
Making coffee yourself doesn’t just cut costs but saves time too. It’s useful for all the odd hours where you need a kick—like pulling all-nighters—but can’t be sure a coffee shop is open. Coffee stimulates the brain, which is perhaps why many students (possibly unknowingly) look for coffee while completing assignments.
2. Find affordable options
There’s a good chance most coffee shops on your campus sell expensive coffee. They may not all be a Starbucks, but everyone likely has similar prices. You could drink the coffee offered in your campus dining hall if you’re on a meal plan, but it’s often not the best quality.
Consider spending some time looking for a local coffee shop that’s affordable. If the place is off the beaten path, there’s a chance it may not be as busy either. Not having to stand in line for your morning cup of coffee is another excellent reason to take this route in addition to the cost.
Related: 8 Ways to Save Better as a Student
3. K-Cups are your friend
The biggest selling point of a Keurig is the ease of use. All you have to do is place a pod in the machine and get great coffee. If ease of use is your top priority, a Keurig is the way to go. K-Cups come in a variety of flavors and options, so there’s always something to try and enjoy. You can also use it to whip up other beverages like hot chocolate or tea.
If you take the Keurig route, also consider buying a reusable K-Cup instead of the premade cups. That way, you can have your favorite brand of coffee, it’ll be more cost-efficient (because K-Cups can be expensive), and you’ll be contributing less plastic waste—an all-around win.
4. Switch to cold brew coffee
Cold brew coffee is popular, delicious, and easy to make, and quality cold brew coffee makers are usually fairly priced, so they won’t break the bank. Another advantage is that cold brew coffee concentrate can last for weeks. You can pour and dilute your coffee as necessary with ice and water to make delicious iced coffee. Just remember to keep the cold brew concentrate in the refrigerator!
5. Get a travel mug
You should always have the option to take your coffee to-go. Whether you choose to brew coffee in your dorm or get it at a shop, you’ll often need to take it on the go to your next class or group study session.
Juggling a hot cup of coffee in your hands doesn’t bode well under any circumstances—it’s a disaster waiting to happen with the risk of spilling it on yourself, your desk, assignments, or gadgets. Moral of the story: get a good travel mug. It keeps your drink warm, there’s no risk of spillage, you can hold the cup comfortably even when it’s full of hot coffee, and you’ll be creating less waste by not using single-use cups.
6. Use spices and other alternatives
If you’ve decided to brew your coffee in your dorm but miss all those good flavors coffeehouses provide, you can use homemade options for most coffee additives. Keeping some cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and nutmeg on hand is useful and can replicate the best coffee flavors.
Also consider keeping homemade creamers to add flavor and milk to coffee. Vanilla, almond, and maple creamers are popular options, or consider coconut milk as a healthier alternative to conventional creamers.
Other milk alternatives are worth a try as well, though these options can get expensive. Unless you’re pretty dedicated to an alternative creamer or milk option, it might be useful to skip these.
Bonus reminder: stay hydrated!
There will be times when you find your coffee intake increasing with stress and schoolwork. Remember, going overboard does not do you any favors. Caffeine is a diuretic and can make you feel dehydrated, so remember to hydrate consistently. It’s better for your health (in general, not just for caffeine consumption). This goes for energy drinks too, which have an ungodly amount of caffeine in them, not to mention sugar. Stick to coffee when you can, and maybe sometimes skip a cup when you think you could go without it.
For more advice on getting through your day-to-day college schedule, check out our Student Life section.