Home Brewers vs. Coffee Shop: What's the Best Java for Your Buck?

Conventional home brewers, Keurig machines and Starbucks face off as we find out which is the best for your wallet

Thanks to the influx of high-end coffee shops, our collective coffee-drinking standards have risen dramatically over the past ten-plus years. While a standard 10-cup drip coffee maker and a can of grounds used to be the go-to for your morning cup, our penchant for lattes and freshly ground, single-origin beans have transformed home brewing into a precious and complicated way to get started in the morning.

But for those of us who've invested in pounds upon pounds of pricey coffee beans and even pricier espresso machines, the sad reality it that home brewed coffee rarely measures up to the quality of the cups we purchase at our local coffee shops. In lieu of laying down the cash for a professional coffee setup and spending months honing your barista skills, what other options are there for brewing a really good cup of coffee at home?

To measure cost and quality, we thought we'd do a little run-down of the following coffees:

1. Starbucks

2. Conventional home-brewed coffee

3. Keurig single-cup brewed coffee

A regular 16-ounce cup of coffee at Starbucks rings in at $1.96 -- not an exorbitant amount, but a year's worth daily coffees adds up to a whopping $709.52.

Brewing coffee at home seems like it would be more financially sound, but when you factor in a pound of beans a week at $9.99 and a decent combination coffee maker-grinder at $161, we're still looking at $680.48 a year, which is not exactly the money-saver that we're looking for. 

On the other hand, a basic Keurig machine goes for $99.95, and Folgers K-Cups are only $.68 apiece. With prices like these, a full year of coffee using the Keurig comes in at $348.15, which is less than half the price of Starbucks and conventionally brewed coffee.  

After weighing the options, the Keurig single-cup brewing system seems like the way to go. Tiny, coffee-creamer sized K-Cups come ready to be popped into the machine and transform into a steaming cup of perfectly brewed coffee in seconds. The K-cups eliminate messy filters and grounds and take the guess work out of measuring ground coffee.

When you consider the affordability of the Keurig, and combined with ease of use and overall consistency and quality, it looks like it might be time to retire that old counter top dripper in favor of a K-Cup single-serving brewing system.

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