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Frugal Photo Friday: Making Starbucks at Home

Frugal Photo Friday

As you well know, I tend to be just a little bit frugal. Er, well, maybe more like a lot frugal. My husband says that if I were left on my own, I’d never spend any money on myself. I love to spend money on others, but when it comes to me, I’ll just keep using and re-using whatever I already have.

That’s not always a bad thing… especially considering all of the money it has saved us over the years. Sometimes we lose sight of just how much these simple things we do really benefit our lives. And it’s time that we celebrated the simple savings!

Welcome to Frugal Photo Friday! For the next month I am partnering with Rebekah from SimplyRebekah to bring you a fun series dedicated to inspiring others and celebrating our simple savings. We’ll be sharing photos each Friday of simple ways that we save money. And we’d love for you to join us!

How it will work:

Each Friday in October Rebekah and I will share pictures on our blogs that demonstrate ways that we save money. At the end of our posts we’ll have a link-up where you can share a link to your own blog post. Your Frugal Photo Friday post should include at least one photograph along with a brief caption or story that explains how you saved money.

We will have themes for each Friday. Feel free to share photos that fit either of the themes for that week.

October 5 – Kids, Bath & Beauty
October 12 – Food & Fun
October 19 – Home & Decor
October 26 – Anything Goes!

The Details:

  • No blog? You can also share your pictures on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #FrugalPhotoFriday.
  • Frugal Photo Friday posts will go live on Friday mornings and the link-up will stay open until Sunday night at 11:59 PM.
  • You will only need to share your link on one of our blogs and it will automatically be displayed on both blogs.
  • Please link directly to your Frugal Photo Friday post and not to your homepage.
  • Feel free to grab the Frugal Photo Friday button to use in your post.
  • Please include a link back to Money Saving Mom or Simply Rebekah in your post so others can be encouraged by all the savings.
  • There is no time limit on your savings. We want to see things that saved you money this week, last month, last year, or beyond!

To kick things off, Rebekah and I are each sharing a photo of a simple way we save. Here’s mine:

Making Starbucks at Home

Wait, you don’t think Starbucks coffee is frugal? Well, let me tell you, it’s a whole lot cheaper to make your own Starbucks at home then to buy it at the coffee shop.

Sure, I’d save even more money if I gave up coffee altogether. But brewing my morning cup puts a smile on my face. I sit and savor it — and it just starts my day off on the right foot.

After lots of practice, I’ve learned how to make coffee at home just exactly how Jesse and I love it. In fact, we both agree that I can brew a better cup of coffee than any coffee shop we’ve visited.

So not only have we saved a lot of money by making coffee at home, we just plain think the coffee we make at home is better. Win-win!

Head over to SimplyRebekah for her photo and tip on how she saves money on gift wrap.

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  • Bethany says:

    I’ve come to prefer my own coffee brewed at home than when I order at Starbucks, and I’m almost dissapointed when I take that first sip and think, “Phoohy…I should’ve just made my own…” Then again, I like it so strong that it practically makes itself and comes to me in the morning!

    • Crystal says:

      Haha! You crack me up! 🙂

    • Anna says:

      I totally agree! While I like my coffee made at home (in a french press) using Starbucks beans, I am not a big fan of their coffee. It isn’t strong enough, like you said. We think it’s watery, kind of a ploy to make us by a Double Tall instead of a plain Americana. I like Panera’s coffee best when it comes to coffee out.

      • Bethany says:

        Anna, I’ve found that my new favorite drink to order is a Cafe Verona with an extra shot (if they’re brewing it at the time, sometimes the darkest they have out is the Pike Place, which I dont care for too much.) I used to order a double short latte, but it’s like $3.50 now! Ordering the tall brewed coffee with an added shot and adding half and half to it from the counter is around $2.50…still steep for coffee, but it’s an occasional treat. 🙂

      • What shocks me is how Starbucks coffee differs in strength from the west coast to the mid west. I like iced coffee which makes it easy to see just how strong it is from the outside of the cup, and I ordered one in Seattle once when I was in the airport coming home to Indiana, got off the plane after a long day of flying and got another one for the ride home and even my husband who is not a coffee drinker at all said “honey your coffee is at least 4 shades lighter!” . Same thing happened again when I did the trip in reverse the next time.

  • kari says:

    I have made a whole pot of good coffee and found
    my husband and I weren’t always drinking it,I put it in a pitcher, add vanilla, sweeten it
    to our taste..and voila..iced coffee!

  • We make our own Starbucks at home also. People are always surprise we buy Starbucks coffee to brew because we tend to be very frugal but WE LOVE COFFEE! It’s our splurge. Plus most often there are coupon deals to get it even cheaper at the store.

    We recently made our own Starbucks Pumpkin Lattes when Starbucks introduced them again in September. On vacation last week I was craving one so I stopped by Starbucks to buy one……. $5! I couldn’t believe it. Plus ours taste so much better. : )

    Here’s the link if you want to try one:

    • kari says:

      Oh, thank you!! I’m gonna try these:)

    • Laura says:

      Crystal, PLEASE share how you do this! I always think coffee OUT tastes so much better! I am fully addicted to coffee and yes, we buy Starbucks.

      • Crystal says:

        I think that my three keys to brewing a good cup of coffee are:
        1) investing in good coffee beans (keep trying different kinds until you hit on one or two that you love)
        2) grinding my own beans right before making the cup of coffee
        3) using a French Press

        • Alicia says:

          Totally agree with all of that!

        • Bethany says:

          Crystal, you’ve inspired me to unearth my french press. I haven’t used it in forever because I hate cleaning it after making coffee, and it just seems to take a lot longer and there’s more steps involved… but it sure tastes a lot better than using my coffeemaker! Hmm…now a before-dinner coffee is sounding good… 😉

          • Crystal says:

            Want to hear my super quick cleaning method? Dump in sink, rinse, pop both pieces in dishwasher. 🙂

            Yay for French Presses!

            • Bethany says:

              GASP! You can put it in the dishwasher?? You mean you don’t take apart all those pieces and individually wash everything by hand? Cause I’ve always been too scared to put it in the dishwasher…and I never thought it washed well enough without taking it all apart. hmmm…now I’m FOR SURE getting it out again! 😀

    • Anna says:

      THe other cool thing about Starbucks coffee at home is most of the bags have the “return bag to store for a free cup of coffee” deal on them.

  • I love Chai Latte, but discovered I could make it myself and better then Starbucks!

  • Sheri says:

    Can you share your coffee success secrets?

  • I’m so excited about this because it really is the little things that add up!

    I’m doing something similar but with handmade Christmas gift ideas. Each week for 6 weeks there will be a different category link up. Hopefully we’ll get some good ideas. Here’s my intro post

  • Whit says:

    Funny, I made a homemade Starbucks drink today! Here’s a copycat recipe for their Salted Caramel Mocha.

  • Sally says:

    I, too, would like to know your secrets to a stand-alone cup of joe. A thought crossed my mind…buying my dad a french press and a bag of Starbucks coffee as a Christmas gift. He’s retired and a bit of a coffee snob and I’m, well, not retired and not a coffee drinker. Any tips on how to use a french press and yield coffee-shop-taste results?

    • Crystal says:

      See a few of my tips above. I’m coming up with more, though, now that I think about it and am thinking perhaps a 5 Tips for Making Better Coffee at Home article might be in order. 🙂

  • amanda says:

    We bought a French press earlier this year after hearing you rave about yours. We’re still getting the hang of the “perfect” cup though- I’d love to hear your tips.

    • Crystal says:

      It took me a few months of trial and error, but I’ve pretty much got it down to a science now. Once you know what beans you love, I suggest experimenting with different amounts of grounds to water ratio to land on the perfect amount for your French Press, and also experimenting with the water temperature and sit time.

      I typically pour almost-boiling water over my grounds and let it sit for 6-8 minutes before pressing.

      • Jen says:

        Please will you share your ratio of grounds to water? And do you grind the beans course or fine?

        • Crystal says:

          I think it’s about 1/3 cup grounds for a full French Press. I don’t measure, I just know exactly how high to fill the grinder up. 🙂 I should try measuring sometime! But then, I think it really depends upon the kind of coffee, too. I grind the beans semi-fine. Much coarser than you’d get in a pre-ground bag, but not super coarse, because I’ve found that if I don’t grind them enough, the coffee isn’t as flavorful.

          And man, I’m really sounding like a coffee-snob! 🙂

          • Alicia says:

            We have a coffee scoop which I think is 1.5TBS, and we do 4oz water per scoop of beans that go in the grinder. That’s per the french press instructions and we like that. I don’t measure ground coffee but measure it out to put the beans in to grind. You can alter the strength of the coffee as well by grinding more or less for the french press. Grinding like espresso would be too fine (you’d get grounds in your coffee) but grinding like for drip would be weak (and you’d use more beans to get the strength you want). Grind in between for french press, and grind slightly more for a stronger coffee.

            Using a french press is also a great way to get iced coffee! Do double the beans for the same amount of water, and pour it over ice to dilute to regular strength and chill the coffee. I actually pour a little bit in my glass, put some sugar and liquid Stevia in, then add ice and pour the rest of the coffee over and add cream. Ends up being like an iced Americano.

          • Alicia says:

            I’m right there with you Crystal. 🙂 I posted another reply about ratios but seemed to have lost it (maybe it’ll post late).

            I make iced coffee with the french press…half the water, same amount of coffee. Pour over ice. I pour a little in the glass first and add my sugar and liquid stevia drops then put ice and the rest of the coffee in, plus cream. I also do that with our espresso machine (old purchase from when my husband worked for Starbucks and got a discount) which results in an iced Americano.

            Our ratio is one scoop of beans for 4oz water for hot coffee. I think our scoop is 1.5 TBS (it’s a Starbucks bamboo coffee scoop)

  • Rachael says:

    This remind me, I need to grind beans! I bought Member’s Mark Free Trade beans — espresso (stocked at Sam’s). I have really enjoyed it, even more than the 8 o’clock that I was drinking before. I have a small 4 cup maker, but want to get a french press. I think with my grinder, the coffee will be better. Thinking about how to it now without a press….

  • Jennifer says:

    I agree that good coffee is so worth it! I love the quote: “Life is too short for bad coffee”
    I love using my french press. We only go out once in awhile, but mostly make ours at home. I used to work at Starbucks, and I miss all the free drinks, but its too expensive to go very often. Do you ever froth your milk? I have a mini frother that was cheap, and its fun to use sometimes. This sounds like a fun series!

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve never frothed milk, except for using a cappuccino machine. Sounds cool to do it yourself!

      • Anna says:

        My hubby froths milk on the stove-top in a small sauce pan. He heats the pan, then pours in a little milk, and wisks like crazy for a minute or two until it makes a nice froth. He can make cappuccinos this way, but my foam is never as dense and makes more of a latte. I think it’s his strong, manly muscles that make the difference. Or that he’s Italian and I’m not.

  • Anna says:

    You have the same Mr Coffee french press as us! Only, my carafe broke two days ago. 🙁 Instead of running to WalMart for a new $18 press, I lugged my $200 KRUPS machine out of storage and made coffee with that these last two mornings. Wow, what a difference. Guess what: the $18 press makes WAY better coffee! This morning my husband took a swig of coffee and said, “Yuck! What happened to the coffee? I’ll just skip it this morning. I’m already awake.”

  • I’m with you – although sometimes it feels like a treat to go out for coffee (especially with a gift card), both my husband and I actually prefer my coffee. I’ll add a little of Trader Joe’s french vanilla creamer and we are in heaven. It’s pretty late in the day, but now you’ve got me craving coffee – I might have to go make a cup!

  • Alicia says:

    I’m right there with you! Love our french press too. You’ll have to share you particulars for what makes it good. I do like pretty hot coffee since I cool it down with a lot of cream, so I do the following things to keep it hot: 1) neoprene cozy goes on the press 2) pour hot water to warm my mug while the press brews 3) stick some cream in a stainless measuring cup on the still hot electric burner to warm while the coffee brews. Doing that makes my coffee nice and hot without having to actually boil the water for the coffee (stop it just short) which isn’t recommended.

    We also add a pinch of salt to the grinds. Salt is wonderful!

  • Johanna says:

    And don’t forget you can turn in your empty bag to get
    another FREE coffee @ Starbucks 🙂

    Now that is saving money!!! Great Job!!!

    • Alicia says:

      I’m trying to figure out which bags offer that…the pound bags from Starbucks haven’t been having that lately, but maybe grocery store stocked Starbucks beans? Too bad they’re removing the perk of the registered Starbucks cards where you’d get a free tall drink with the purchase of 1lb coffee.

      Gotta love Costco for the large bags (4 or 5lb) of French Roast. Our favorites are Espresso, French and Italian Roast. I love Thanksgiving Blend, Christmas Blend and Casa Cielo too!

  • I made myself an iced mocha after seeing this post. 🙂

  • Allie says:


    This looks like fun, I can’t wait to see everyone’s photos!

    And SB or any coffee brewed at home is so much better! (Unless it is one of those days I am just craving a Mocha, then you can’t stop me from hitting SB after dropping the kids off at school-like this morning. BUT it was my free one! Woo hoo!) Anyhow, we have one of those coffee makers that grinds the coffee at the top and it is freshly made. I set it to go off about 10 minutes before my alarm and then when I go downstairs it smells so good!!!

    I followed you on Instagram cuz that is where I will be posting mine. I look forward to having fun with this!


  • Brooke Kingston says:

    I used to work for Starbucks Corporate in their Cofffee Department. We always brewed with a French press. A course grind is what I use, it prevents the press from clogging and extracts the best flavor for this brewing method. I always brew for 4 min before pressing to avoid over-extraction and bitterness. Once a week, I throw my screens in vinegar for an hour or so to bring up the oils that adhere and won’t come off well with soap; it really makes a difference in the overall taste of the coffee! And last but least, something I learned from a food scientist I worked with there: add a tiny pinch of SALT to the ground coffee before brewing. The salt acts as a flavor potentiator, and it really makes the coffee shine!

  • Monica says:

    Okay, so I don’t drink coffee. However, I do love my Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf fix. I’ve been making my own Blueberry Pomegranate ice blended’. I purchased the vanilla powder @ Coffee Bean and the pomegranate blueberry juice concentrate they use at my local grocery store. This drink is one of the most expensive non-coffee ice blended drinks on there menu. So happy I can now make my own. No more paying $5 for it. =)

  • Julie C says:

    Coffee is our splurge, too! We invested in a Bunn Coffee maker which keeps boiling water in the back of the tank ready for your next pot of coffee. It only takes 3 minutes max to brew 10 cups of coffee and it tastes amazing.

    I also use the instant hot water function for tea, hot cocoa and when I’m cooking up a storm.

    I’m hooked on Starbuck’s Espresso Roast and love that I can return the bag for a free cup on my errands day the next week. I have always requested a free flavor in my free cup but they are discontinuing that perk mid-October. Maybe my favorite barista will still give me free whip cream on top. :o)

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