What’s the Cheaper Cuppa? A Morning Tea or Coffee?

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What is cheaper, a morning tea or coffee? Every morning, I drink both. However, in the interest of frugality, I wanted to undertake a thorough research project in which I compared many options for a morning cuppa. While prices will certainly vary from region to region, I feel that the basic price differences between no-name, mid-range, and high-end will be fairly stable. I hope you enjoy reading about the economics of your morning cup. The results might surprise you…and your pocketbook!

Green tea: the cost per cup

Every morning, my first cuppa is actually a cup of green tea. I started drinking green tea when I read about the many health benefits it has. There are powerful ingredients in green tea. These include anti-oxidants which may prevent disease, caffeine and an amino acid that can combine to improve the function of your brain, and also possible fat burning properties from other ingredients.

Every morning, I make one cup of green tea from my box of 100 bags. I only spend $4.00 on this box. This means that my cost for my morning cup of green tea is a mere five cents per cup. In addition, it is very likely that I could make a SECOND cup with that little bag if I wanted. So, in times when money is tight, I could save my teabag overnight in the fridge and make a second cup the next day for only two cents per cup. My mug is around 12 oz, so this is a very thrifty cup of tea for that price!

Black tea: the cost per cup

I rarely drink black tea. Usually, when I do, I use it to make chai tea with my homemade chai spices. A mid-range tea sold in my location sells for $7.00 for a box of 144 bags. This puts the price of a cuppa at around 5 cents, so the price is similar to the green tea I drink. Interesting!

However, if you like a more “premium” tea (think English!), this sells for around $10 for 50 bags, which puts the price of your cuppa at 20 cents per cup. Wow! More than three times more for premium! In contrast, you can buy a plastic bag of 100 tea no-name tea bags at our local discount grocery store for only $2.00. So, if you are willing to drink discount tea, the price of your cuppa can go down to under 2.5 cents. Wow! A discount cup of tea is around 1/3 the price of the mid-range tea and 1/8 the price of a premium tea.

One might ask, “Why are you worrying about differences of a few cents?” or “Do these small price differences really matter?” According to my calculations of one daily cup of tea over one year:

  • Discount tea: $7.00
  • Mid-range tea/Green tea: $17.25
  • Premium tea: $57.25

Just for interest’s sake, here is the difference between premium tea and discount tea over ten years: $500!!! So, these little choices we make on a daily basis really add up over time. If you can find a discount tea brand that you like, this can also be a way to save money that you would hardly notice.

Good coffee beans, hand ground: the cost per cup

Every morning, I drink my green tea while I eat my breakfast. Then, I prepare a wonderful cup of coffee for myself to drink while I enjoy listening to beautiful music and looking at the nature outside my homestead windows. I love a good cup of coffee! I grind my beans by hand and take particular care to buy full-bodied coffees with a light to medium roast. I grind half an ounce (weight) of beans to make about 14 ounces (liquid) of coffee. I brew my coffee in a French press.

Gourmet coffee beans: the cost per cup

Top-tier coffee comes at a price. If I buy “the best” coffee beans, then I am paying $12.55 per pound, putting my cup of coffee at 39 cents per cup. This price is too steep for my daily cup, and I have found more thrifty options.

An easily available no-name brand is more mid-range, costing me 28 cents per cup when I buy these beans for $6.89 for 340g. This is closer to what I was choosing to spend on coffee on a regular basis in the recent past. Interestingly, there used to be a value pack in this brand available, which was two pounds. I saved a lot by buying this bulk pack, which I could buy for $10.20. This value pack has since disappeared. All coffee that is available in regular grocery stores is closer to $7.84 per pound or more!

I recently decided that it was worth exploring other options to try and reduce what I was spending on coffee and to set some aside. I went to a big box club store and bought a 2-pound bag for $11.76. This means that I got a pound of beans for $5.88. This is the best price I was able to get locally in bulk. My new cost for a cup of coffee is 18 cents per cup. So, I was able to save over 30% on each cup of coffee by buying these bulk bags that are no longer available in regular or discount grocery stores.

Although I don’t buy ground coffee, I wanted to provide some numbers on this in relation to beans for Frugalite readers. For this purpose, I chose a large plastic drum of coffee, a popular brand, that contains two pounds of coffee. In a regular discount grocery store, this now costs $6.27, which means a cup of coffee would cost ten cents a cup. This is one-third of what I used to pay to grind my own mid-range beans. It is still close to half what I pay to drink my bulk whole bean coffee. In addition, if you have access to a “club” style bulk store, they offer a larger 3-pound container of this same coffee for only $6.66 This means that a cup of this coffee is only seven cents a cup!

Instant coffee: the cost per cup

Some people like instant coffee. Locally, the price of a 170g glass jar of instant coffee varies widely, with it costing around $6.27 for regular price and about half that on sale. With a 2g teaspoon making one cup, that means that, at regular price, your cup will cost you around seven cents per cup and, on sale, around 5 cents per cup.

Eating out: the sobering statistics

In these uncertain times, I also wanted to highlight what the price difference is to buy fast food, coffee, or tea compared to making it at home. For the similar size mug of green tea, I make at home (14 oz) for five cents, I would pay $1.44. This is an increase in price by a multiple of 30!!! My savings over the course of a year by making this cup of tea myself are a staggering $506.

I now pay 18 cents to make my coffee from whole beans every morning, or I could buy a similarly sized cup at a popular mid-range coffee retailer for $1.44. This is an increase by a multiple of eight!!! You may think that this isn’t a lot of money. However, by doing this one simple thing every day (making my own cup of coffee), I am saving $458 per year. If you combine my making both my tea and coffee at home, we’re talking about over $941, and you better believe I am doing more productive things with this money than lining the pockets of corporations!

And the winner is…your wallet!

Whether you drink tea or coffee, the real savings are when you make it at home. However, there are other savings to be had, depending on what tier and type of coffee or tea you choose to drink. Did you learn anything that surprised you in these morning cuppa statistics? Do you have any thrifty thoughts you can share with us, whether coffee or tea-related? Please tell us in the comments below.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details! 

What\'s the Cheaper Cuppa? A Morning Tea or Coffee?
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Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

14 thoughts on “What’s the Cheaper Cuppa? A Morning Tea or Coffee?”

  1. Excellent article!!
    I love that you took the time to do the research n share it.
    I have over the years reduced my coffee expenses by first giving up cream or milk in my coffee, then gave up putting sugar in it, went to a French press n sometimes use instant that I keep in the van. I ve reduced my consumption, so thats a savings too.
    I drink tea as well but I prefer the ones from Traditional Medicinals n those are not cheap, so I do limit how many I use.
    Unlike you, I m nit able to get a second cup from my tea bags since I let them steep the whole time I m enjoying my tea.
    Thank you for this article.

    1. Hi K8, Thanks so much for sharing. You and I have made some similar changes over the years. I, too, gave up cream and sugar….I have milk on hand to make kefir, so I do enjoy a bit of that in my one cup of morning coffee. I love Traditional Medicinals, too. I am trying to wild craft and grow more of my own teas this year. I found a local health food store that is able to sell a POUND of certain herbs to customers. This doesn’t come cheap at the time, Canadian dollars it’s $30, but you can make a huge amount of herbal tea and tinctures from a pound of good herb. I appreciate your positive feedback so much. It is always nice to hear from readers. Wishing you the best!

  2. I use 1 English Breakfast tea bag and 1 discount green tea bag to make a 12 cup pot of tea each day. I do not use sweetner, so my cost per day is 15.7 cents per day. I leave the tea bags in the pot so the last cup is stonger then the first. Letting the tea bag dry out really isn’t a very satisfying second cup of tea.
    I don’t care for the bitter taste of coffee much, so for me it’s a no brainer.

    1. Thanks for your tips on how you make your pot of tea. I love that you are combining green and black tea. That is cool! Thanks for sharing….you’ll save in the long run by not liking coffee!

  3. Bill in Houston

    Tea is definitely cheaper than coffee. A 100 count bag of black tea is US$3.29 at Kroger. Green tea is $3.49. So, 3.3 to 3.5 cents a cup.

    Coffee depends on how you buy it. I use Keurigs that I buy on sale for about 20 cents a cup. I could buy store brand coffee (30 ounces) for about $7.00 that supposedly makes 235 cups (more like half that unless your cup is 6 ounces). We use a French Press sometimes, but don’t use the store brand. Works out to be about 8 cents a cup.

    1. Hi Bill, This is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing the math on your local discount tea and coffee. Wishing you a great cuppa whatever is your favourite. Much appreciated!

  4. I drink 5 cups of black tea a day and one cup of coffee. I do not use milk/cream or sweetener in any of them. I do use a sprig of fresh mint in my coffee. Can’t comment of cost of coffee as it is a gift. It is ground and I use the refillable coffee pods for my Keurig.
    Tea – I was using the 100/$1 until WM discontinued it, now use their brand $1.97/100. I find it is strong enough but not bitter. Recently was given some Lipton’s which is very good, but I find it strong so I can get 2 cups from 1 bag. My tea cost is roughly $2.50 a month.
    Easy herbs to grow for tea are mint and lemon balm. Also moringa if you have space for a small tree (be careful as ours grew to 20 feet in 6 months). Also, check with Frontier Herbs for bulk herbs/herb tea mixtures.

    1. Hi Bellen, It sounds like our tastes in tea are quite similar. I appreciate this detailed information from a tea drinker regarding costs and strengths of different teas. WOW that Moringa tree sounds incredible. Thank you for the tip of Frontier Herbs. I will check them out today. Much appreciated! Raising my cuppa in thanks to you!

  5. Wow! Thank you for doing all that math for us!

    Thankfully, I prefer tea and coffee that are not strong. Years ago, a friend asked me why I even bother (I guess she thought just drinking hot water wouldn’t be much different), but I’d rather not drink it if it’s too strong. It works for me.

    For the first cup in the morning, I prefer a mug of Twining’s Earl Grey (50 bags $6.44). We get two and sometimes 3 mugs from that one bag. But we’re out right now, so I’ve been using the cheap tagless bags ($1.00 per 100 bags), and honestly, it’s not that different.

    For the second cup, I like decaf made in the French press. I prefer Cain’s, but I can’t buy it in Texas, so I usually go with whatever namebrand is cheaper. Sometimes I just make instant, and use the house brand.

    1. Hi Carla, This is great! Thanks for sharing your own details and local prices. It is so helpful to have this kind of useful information in the comments for our community of readers! I think it is really important for readers to hear from others that you can get more than cup from a bag, just like you. Cups up to you! Wishing you the best!

  6. We buy PG Tips black tea from England. My DH is English, and I find I prefer the taste. PG Tips has more tea per teabag, and it is actual leaves, not “tea dust”. It will easily make two strong cups of tea, and releases flavor into the cup so fast it is very nearly instant. We buy the large bag containing 1100 teabags for $46.54. This is a cost of 4.2 cents per cup or 2.1 cents per cup if we use it twice. I repackage the tea bags into several food saver/vacuum packed bags and store in a cool closet. You CAN have your premium tea and drink it too! We can not buy it locally for that price, unfortunately, so someday we will likely be compelled to find an alternative. But for now, we enjoy very good tea for very little outlay.

    1. Hi Debs, WOW!!! This is a great share for our readers who like premium tea. As well, it’s important to note that tea this strong (real leaves!) will make more than one cup. Like you, this incredible bulk bargain of 1100 tea bags !!!!!! is not available locally. So important to repackage this and keep those precious bags fresh. I so appreciate your taking the time to share this valuable tips with readers. I had NO IDEA! Thank you for doing the math for all of us, too. I could imagine that setting aside of an extra one of these could be quite valuable for bartering. (making mental note….!!). I will raise my next cup of Twinings to you, Debs!

  7. While I usually make my coffee for the day at home and bring it to work, I’m trying to encourage my coworkers to um, join us in the frugal life. So I just bought a used coffee maker for $4, and brought some mid-range coffee, some sugar, coffee filters, and creamer (and some ground cinnamon) to work. Now I bring in my green tea, and brew coffee later in the day, and one lucky coworker can have the rest of the coffee from the 25 ounce pot.
    We’ll see how this works out.

    1. Hi Fern, Your efforts to encourage your co-workers in “the frugal life” are admirable. Good for you! I, too, find that ground cinnamon really adds to the flavour of a cup of coffee, whatever the quality. Wishing you the best with this endeavour. If you think of it, come on back and let us know how it all turns out! Thanks for sharing this thrifty way to have coffee at work.

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