(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)
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.
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!