How to Save $1,000 Each Year by Making Your Own Cold Brew Coffee

I love coffee, iced coffee to be exact.  It could be the middle of winter with a foot of snow on the ground, while I’m wearing five layers of snow gear and I’d still prefer an iced coffee over a hot one.  Up until a year ago, I would stop by my local coffee shop each day before work and grab my regular.  Medium iced coffee, one cream, and one sugar.  It actually got to a point where the barista knew my name and would have my order ready when I walked up to the cash register.

Then, one day at work, I saw my coworker drinking iced coffee out of a mason jar he brought from home.  When I asked him if he just iced down the hot coffee from the office, he said: “it’s cold brew, I made it at home”.  He told me all about the process, grinding coffee beans, letting it steep in water for twelve hours, the filtration process.  I had to try it for myself.

Where should you spend your money?

1.) The Coffee Shop

Take a look at the table below.  Fancy, right?  Well, depending on where you live and the type of coffee you like, prices will vary.  Let’s look at the mid-tier pricing for example.

Low Mid High
Cost / Coffee $2.50 $3.50 $4.50
Days 365 365 365
Annual Cost $912.50 $1277.50 $1642.50

If you spend $3.50 per day on coffee, that comes out to $1,277.50 for the year.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, “It’s very unlikely that I buy a coffee every single day of the year”.  Completely understandable.  Even if you only go 5 days out of the week, it’s still $910 for the year.  Needless to say, no matter which way you cut it, that’s a lot of money.

What would you do with an extra $1,000 in your bank account each year?

Now, let’s take a look at what it would cost if you started making your own, comparable, iced coffee at home.

2.) At Home

I’ll start off by saying, there are many different ways you can make your own cold brew at home.  This process works for me.

One-Time Costs

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Cold Brew Setup Costs
Coffee Grinder ~$45.00
1 Gallon Pitcher ~$12.00
1.5 Gallon Container ~$10.00
Metal Strainer ~$7.50
Coffee Filters ~$8.00
Total ~$82.50

There’s a good chance you may already have some of these items.  If not, it only comes out to $82.50 for all.  These are the flat, one-time, setup costs associated with the brewing process.  You may need to purchase more coffee filters down the road, depending on how long you’re doing this for and the number of filters you buy at the start.

Ongoing Costs

Now that you have all your new, fancy equipment, it’s time to buy the beans.  This one is up to you.  I usually buy the store branded whole beans because they’re cheap.  If you don’t like the taste, feel free to mix it up and try something else.

I pay $12.99 for a 24-oz bag of whole coffee beans.  For one batch, I’ll usually make one gallon of cold brew.  One bag of beans gives you two batches.  Two gallons of cold brew is 32 cups.  Let’s say, each morning, you serve up one cup of cold brew.  Take a look at the math below.

Bag of Whole Coffee Beans (24 oz) $12.99
Total Servings (1 Cup) 32
Cost per 1 Cup $0.41
Annual Costs $149.65
One Time Setup Costs $82.50
Total 1st Year Cost $232.15

So, if you get 32 cups per $12.99 of whole coffee beans, that comes out to $0.41 per cup of coffee.  Multiply that by 365 days, it’s $149.65 for the year.  Add in the setup costs of $82.50 and you’re looking at $232.15 for your first year of homemade cold brew coffee.

Take what you would have spent on going out for coffee each day ($1,277.50) and subject your costs of making it yourself ($232.15) and you end up with $1,045.35.  There you have it, you saved ~$1,000 by making your own coffee instead of going out each day.  You’ll save more your second year since you already have the equipment.  Great, how do you make it?

My cold brew coffee recipe.

Now that you understand the cost benefit of making your own cold brew, let me show you how it’s done.  There are many different ways to make it and I’m sure there are better techniques out there, but this one works for me and gets the job done.

Steeping

  1. Grab the bag of whole coffee beans and pour it into your grinder.
  2. Set your grinder to the coarse setting and move the slide bar to “12” (if you’re using the one I mentioned above).
  3. Measure out 1 cup of coffee grinds and pour it into your 1.5 gallon container.
  4. Do this a total of 4 times (the ratio is 1 cup of coffee to 4 cups of water).

Let this sit for an hour or so and then give it a quick stir so all the grounds fall to the bottom (makes it easier for filtering at the end).  Then, let it sit for 12-18 hours at room temperature.  I usually make this around 6 pm and start the filtration process around 7 am the next day.

Filtering

After 12-18 hours, it’s time to filter out the grounds.

  1. Pour the contents of the container, through the strainer, into the pitcher.
  2. Rinse out the container and pour the coffee back in there (if you have a filter, similar to the one in the picture below, pour it through there when adding it back to the container).
  3. Place the strainer on top of the pitcher, add a filter, and start pouring the cold brew into the pitcher.
  4. You may need to replace the coffee filter a few times if it starts to filter slowly.

This is a personal preference, but I like to make sure that the cold brew sits in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours before pouring myself a cup.  It tastes better, I think.  And there you go, homemade cold brew coffee, saving yourself $1,000 each year.

I’ve shared this recipe with a few friends and family as well.  A few have mentioned they’ve bought a product off of Amazon that makes the process easier.  I’m sure these products work just great, but I’ve noticed that they produce a smaller quantity.  Here’s a few product they have recommended:

Do you currently make cold brew yourself?  Do you have a process different than this one?  Did you try out my method?  If so, please comment below.  I’d love to hear from you!