Is Costco Coffee Any Good? We Bravely Discover
In our never-ending quest to frugalize our lives, Mr. Frugalwoods and I have slashed spending on groceries, insourced just about everything humanly possible, and stuck to our $0 entertainment budget, among other measures. But the one luxurious, gaping, profligate outlier has always been decent coffee beans. Nay, dare I say superb coffee beans. We’d rather drive a 19-year-old car than give up our organic, fair trade, small batch, roasted-to-perfection $10.68/pound coffee beans. Folks, we have our priorities straight.
For us, coffee is a lifeblood of civilization, a symbol of decadence, and a daily ritual. We each drink exactly one cup a day–together during our morning routine–and it’s a mainstay in our diet and our lives. Going out for coffee on the weekends used to be a regular treat for us and, since we’ve given up all meals out, we instead brew fine beans at home. But just how good is our coffee? Could we be victims of–gasp–marketing? Consumerism?!? UNCONSCIOUS SPENDING?!?! The horror. And so, for the sake of science, humanity, and frugal weirdos everywhere, we decided to take the plunge and try… Costco coffee.
It Started Out Innocently Enough…
This past week we were on our traditional once-a-month Friday evening sojourn to Costco, merrily cruising through the near-empty store (gotta love Friday nights at the Costco!). We don’t impulse buy even at the grocery store because, frankly, it’s dangerous. Downright risky, I tell you.
Consider this a PSA for frugal weirdos: One minute you’re judiciously stocking your cart with the cheapest fruit on earth (bananas) and the next, there’s a bag of Cheetos in your hand. Stay strong! Follow your list! Don’t succumb to the temptation of “maybe we need this” or “this might be a good price” or “this looks yummy, I will eat it now!”
Back to our fateful Costco trip last week… I was selecting cartons (yes, cartons plural) of organic milk (Babywoods likes milk, or more accurately, pregnant me likes milk) when I suddenly turned around and couldn’t find Mr. FW… suspicious at best. I peered down the aisle and was agog to see him pawing over an item that was most certainly not on our list (and never had been): coffee beans. Concerned for his mental health, I scurried to his side to investigate. To my utter shock, he suggested we buy a bag of this stuff (specifically Costco’s Kirkland Brand Columbian Supremo Whole Bean Medium Roast Coffee) and try it out.
The Great Frugalwoods Coffee Taste Test of 2015
My sweet, scheming husband reasoned that we’ve been buying our expensive coffee on autopilot for the past year or so and that we don’t have a baseline comparison for knowing just how much better it is than, say, the Costco brand. I was skeptical, to put it mildly, but the difference in price ($5.19 per pound vs. our highfalutin $10.68 per pound) was enough to pique my curiosity. Always up for a frugal challenge, I accepted his posit and allowed the interloping coffee into our cart (with reservations, might I add).
Loathe as I am to admit it, coffee has long been the lone hold-out in our otherwise maximally frugalized budget. We like it, we consider it a priority purchase, and it’s something that brings joy into our lives. But can we quantify just how much joy? And can we attain an analogous level of joy for vastly less? Only an experiment of rigorous intensity can answer these pressing inquiries.
Woe betides the day when our world is without coffee, but, will we feel that same despondency with cheaper, Costco coffee? Being a ruthlessly efficient and precise person, Mr. FW cleverly devised a blind taste test for us yesterday morning. He brewed one cup of our traditional expensive coffee and one of our new Costco coffee. I was taking Frugal Hound on her morning constitutional while he did this, so I had no way of knowing which was which. Upon my return, he accosted me (charmingly, of course) with both steaming mugs and forced me to imbibe (I live a tough life I tell ya).
Sidenote for all you coffee-prep aficionados out there: we use this Melitta cone for our pour-over method, which we find delivers a fresh, full-bodied flavor since there are few barriers between you and your coffee. We also like the fact that we can make our exact desired number of cups. We grind our beans using this grinder, which isn’t top of the line but does the job pretty well. To heat our water, we use this electric kettle, which brings the water to the desired 200 degrees (optimal for coffee brewing). For all you non coffee-prep aficionados, don’t laugh at us! We take our brewing seriously ;)!
I first sniffed each and was able to identify them correctly by scent. Then, I took a sip from my great trash find pirate mug, which yielded my initial proclamation that this was the expensive coffee. To keep the experiment in accordance with the highest standards of scrupulous excellence, I drank some seltzer in between coffee samples.
Then, I went for our great trash find blue bird mug and revised my initial proclamation. Upon first swallow, I knew without a doubt that the blue bird mug contained the first-rate substance.
However, the difference between the two, while apparent, wasn’t as pronounced as I thought it would be. The Costco brew is clearly a slightly less flavorful, less full-bodied roast, but, is the expensive roast actually twice as scrumptious, as the price would indicate? Methinks not.
I’m quite surprised by our findings and quite glad we conducted this experiment. Since Costco only sells in one quantity–gigantic–we now have 3 pounds worth of beans to help us make our final determination. Although the taste difference isn’t astronomical, it is present. And, we’re not interested in frugalizing to the point of hardship. Rather, we’re on the lookout for opportunities to extract the same, or similar, benefits from cheaper options.
Question Every $ You Spend (no, really)
One of the reasons we’ve been so successful in living the uber frugal life is that we’re willing to challenge every single aspect of our spending (sidenote: I’m continually inspired by Budgets Are Sexy’s “Challenge Everything” philosophy). No spending is off-limits for us, except for health and dental care–sorry folks, not going to DIY a tooth extraction anytime soon.
I heretofore surmised that the final frontier of frugality for us was having Mr. FW cut my hair–which he’s done twice now to stellar result and I highly doubt I’ll ever go back to a salon. But oh, how wrong I was. I now see the error of my ways and I know, in my frugal heart, that the final frontier of frugality for the Frugalwoods family is coffee.
Calling into question all of our expenditures enabled us to rocket our savings up to over 70% (which doesn’t even include maxing out our 401ks or our mortgage principal). This approach has also caused us to prioritize everything in our lives. We buy so little that each thing we do buy gets used, eaten, and enjoyed. Without waste, we’re happier. Without excessive shopping, spending, or debt, we’re at peace. Without the pressure to keep up and impress, we’re liberated. And most importantly, we have options.
Our freedom from the consumer carousel means we’re able to chart a future that’s unimaginable to most people. We don’t spend a lot of money or buy a lot of stuff, but that’s because we don’t need it or want it.
How Much Do We Stand To Save?
Frugality is not about a drive for perfection, it’s about a drive for savoring life to the fullest while spending the leastest. We’re not cheap and we don’t live an uncomfortable, curmudgeonly existence. But, we also don’t waste money in areas that aren’t important to us. So just how much money are we talking about in this coffee venture?
The total we’d save over the course of a year by switching to the Costco brand is: $214.11. In a year, we’d spend $416.52 on the expensive beans (1.5 pounds purchased every two weeks at $10.68/lb) vs. $202.41 on the Costco version (1.5 pounds purchased every two weeks at $5.19/lb).
While this isn’t an earth-shattering amount, it also ain’t nothing. The key is that these savings are coupled with all of our other extreme frugality savings mechanisms. When I take into account the amounts we save by not buying clothes, by eating $0.10 breakfasts, by not paying to board Frugal Hound, by doing our own house work/repairs/renovations, and so much more, the total savings climb to tens of thousands of dollars.
This coffee undertaking represents a mere $214.11 of that total, but it all adds up. We all have our sacred cows of spending that we can’t fathom not paying for. But what happens if we put those cows on the proverbial chopping block? Doing this has been an amazing experience and we’ve been shocked to discover how painless, and liberating, it is to give up these tertiary things in our lives. Everybody needs to find peace in their lives through one vehicle or another, and for us, it’s frugality.
It’s very easy to ignore seemingly insignificant line items, like coffee, which is what we’ve been doing for over a year. Not sure why it has taken us so long to question this expense, but it’s a great example of why constant vigilance with regard to spending will always yield greater savings. Every single time.
I’ll let you know our final decision after we’ve gone through our month’s worth of Costco coffee, but I have a feeling we won’t migrate back to the pricey beans.
Update: find out what coffee bean decision we made in Updates On The Lives Of Some Frugal Weirdos.
What kind of coffee do you drink? Are there expenses you’ve eliminated that you previously considered sacred?
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Good idea. You can get good coffee cheaply for sure. Myself, I am a Cafe Bustelo man. (Say it with me in your Antonio Banderas voice. Cafe Booostelo) It’s about the same as your Costco coffee, around $5.20 a pound where I buy it. I’ll also stock up on coffee at Ocean State Job Lot, which is even cheaper, and comes in a variety of weird flavors. The cheapest I’ve seen, however, was at the Asian market. Thai coffee at about $1.69 a pound. Although I enjoyed its inky darkness, Marge always said it tasted like “hot black.”
As for sacred expenses, I am canceling my newspaper subscription. Or at least trying to. I’m pretty sure my last year’s subscription’s run out, but it keeps arriving on my doorstep!
Booooostelo (I’ll have you know that’s now stuck in my head). I saw this coffee you speak of at Costco, so perhaps we’ll try it out next time. Didn’t realize the old Job Lot has coffee–good to know! We’re more of a medium-roast type of family, so I’m not sure about the Thai coffee, although I’d love to try it out of sheer curiosity.
I did this exact thing many years ago when I was getting out of my 50K worth of debt. I was a Gevalia Coffee snob, but it was expensive. I shopped around until I found a coffee I loved at a great price! Now instead of spending the $11 a bag, I spend less than $2.50 (sometimes less if I have a coupon) a bag for coffee that I enjoy just as much if not more because I’m also saving money!
Nicely done! I like that you enjoy it more because you’re saving money 🙂
While we don’t do it all the time – Mr. SSC has started roasting his own coffee. He is able to get beans online for I think $4 or so a pound. And roasting them is easy – we do it in either our toaster oven, or in a stove-top popcorn popper. And we have the added benefit of having our house smell like a delicious coffee house! Yum!
Ahhh, I love that smell. We have a saved Craigslist search for a used roaster–someday we shall roast our own 🙂
My husband does this too (from Sweet Marias). Though he uses a custom-made rotisserie cage that fits on our outdoor grill.
You can roast beans in a hot air popcorn popper — check out Sweet Maria’s website for easy instructions. I bought mine for 5.00 at goodwill and have been home roasting for a couple of years now. Freshly roasted beans are really they key!
Yes, the popcorn popper does a stellar job! I would always buy the bean sampler from Sweet Marias because the beans are slightly cheaper…BUT, one thing you have to take into account is that beans lose weight in the roasting process, so although they’re say, $4/lb, they’re actually slightly more post roast.
Sacred expenses?!! Quality produce, for sure. I notice that I succumb to temptation without quality produce laying around. Berries, melon, apples, avocado, etc. For coffee, I buy it in bulk on amazon when it’s on sale!
Quality produce gets us too–so delicious and nutritious :). Coffee from Amazon is a good idea, I’ll have to see how their prices compare to Costco.
Ahh, the cheapest coffee is no coffee, which is what I drink. Mr PoP on the other hand, consumes a lot of fairly expensive coffee beans, though. He’s quite particular as to what he puts in his fancy pants espresso maker.
You’ve got me there–the cheapest coffee certainly is no coffee, but I can’t live like that ;)!
I knew I loved you guys, my hubby and I are also obsessed with drinking good quality coffee! That’s interesting that you found the Costco stuff to be somewhat (kind of) comparable, because I never would have thought that it would even be in the same ballpark. We keep trying to find less expensive versions of the coffee we love too, but just haven’t found good cheap options that have made the switch worth it. I’ll keep you posted if we ever do though, looking forward to seeing what your final thoughts are on the costco coffee!
Hooray for coffee ;)! I thought it wouldn’t be in the same ballpark either! We were really quite surprised at how good it is! Best of luck to you in your search for frugal beans 🙂
I have to ask, if the Costco coffee is good, but not out-of-this-world stunning, why not make your own blend. Say 3/4 Costco 1/4 out-of-this-world. What d’ya think?
Definitely a possibility! We’ll see how this month goes with all Costco coffee and map out a plan from there 🙂
Please don’t be horrified, but I love Dunkin Donuts coffee, regular, not dark. I just don’t enjoy the darker, “better”, stuff. We buy it at BJ’s, which per pound is a bit cheaper than buying it at a D&D, or at the grocery store (where the bags aren’t even a full pound!). A couple of times a year, D&D has a sale, and we stock up then, since it brings the price below the BJ’s price. Similarly, once or twice a year, I have coupons and there’s a grocery store, which lowers the price enough to justify getting it there.
Do you read/follow markandlaureng.com? Mark roasts his own beans at home, which saves them money on the “good” coffee.
Hey, I will not judge your coffee choice–you gotta drink what you like :)! We actually have a saved Craigslist search for a used coffee roaster… hoping to one day roast our own beans too 🙂
Take the green coffee beans from green to light beige by slowly heating them over very low heat in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop. Stir frequently. Finish roasting in a hot air popcorn maker which you can pick up at a yard sale. So good! Learned from my my cello teacher, who can play Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello and also does many other amazing things!
Try the Costco Espresso Roast in the read bag. We buy it and have for years. A very good dark roast.
Oily and delicious. Affordable too. our family gets a breakfast mug or too and some to take to work also.
Give it a try. I haven’t been happy with the other Costco brands.
Good to know–thanks for the tip :)!
I don’t drink coffee, so I always save money on this beverage. 🙂
You got me there ;)!
Eight o’clock whole bean. It’s cheap and delicious!
I too like the 8-o’clock A&P arabica coffee beans. They go on sale every 4 months or so for $6.99 /kg (Canadian) so i buy about 3 bags & freeze them. When my 1kg tin runs dry (i keep 0 to 1kg unfrozen),. I fill it up. They have several varieties – Columbian, black, & regular. I make a pot, 12 “cups” (1.8l) every morning to put in a thermal carafe to use throughout the day.
Eight O’clock coffee Arabica Beans, the French Roast or Espresso Roast, they are the closest to Starbucks we have ever had. Plus they go on sale and you can stack with a coupon. I can get the price down to less than $2 for 12 oz. bag. (stock up when on sale).
Thank you all for the recommendation–appreciate it :)!
Interesting! I am very attached to my coffee as well (VERY ATTACHED) but I partly pay higher prices than I strictly speaking have to because of an ethical call, which I’m ok with. On the quality front, can you report back when you get to the end of this bag? I’m curious if it’ll hold up well over the whole time. I usually buy in 1/2 pound bags because that takes me about two weeks to finish and I feel like after that it starts to get noticeably stale.
We do the same with coffee (and chocolate)- pay more per pound in the hopes of purchasing a more ethical product.
C–we’re freezing the bag of beans in the hopes that it’ll stay fresh for the full month. But yes, freshness is a concern since we usually buy beans every other week or so. We’ll see how it does 🙂
The problem with involving ethics in the coffee discussion is that most of the claims are scams. “Free Trade” is largely a scam. That’s why a lot of people that used to be involved with the Free Trade movement have bailed on it. It provides minimal effect, if any, for the actual growers (both morally and financially), it enriches the Free Trade groups and encourages the distribution of inferior grade coffee all on the idea of “helping” while not actually delivering on that promise.
We made the same switch about a year ago and haven’t looked back (BJs Colombian coffee is pretty good, too). While the cheap stuff works for us on a regular basis, we do splurge on the fancy stuff every now and again for special occasions (Father’s Day, for example). We love great coffee but realized we don’t need “the best” every single morning. It reminds me of a Louis CK bit where he makes fun of our desire to have the best. (He cracks me up when he says (paraphrasing), “What am I, the king? I can only have THE BEST?”)
Haha, that’s a great point. And, sounds like you’ve got a good system going on! I like the idea of having the good stuff for special occasions only.
I feel lucky because I have been drinking cheap coffee since the beginning of time. I don’t even like the “good stuff.” Right now I drink Kroger brand – usually morning blend!
Nice! You’re definitely rocking it frugal style 🙂
I’m a tea drinker, and while I like my caffeine, I’m starting to lean more and more to good herbal teas. Part of me wants to say enjoy your coffee the way you like it, even if it’s the expensive one. But part of me also realizes that you are right….that small expenses add up. Add that coffee savings to several other small savings, and you’re now at over a grand per year on savings. Nice experiment and also nicer that you’re both open-minded enough to eliminate sacred cows if you thought it best.
Thanks! I agree–it really does all add up over the course of the year. And, we felt like we should at least give the cheaper coffee a try. Worth an experiment for sure 🙂
In the Millionaire Next Door they say the wealthy folks drink Folgers. (yuck) We are also in the ethical, organic coffee camp, and buy in small quantities so it stays fresh. Also curious how it is by the end of the bag. Though we’ll probably stick with buying locally in our own container. It’s one thing we do to support our local coffee shop, since we don’t buy the lattes, and anything we can buy without packaging automatically jumps higher up our priority list.
Oh man, I don’t think I could go all the way down to Folgers–that just might be a bridge too far ;). I’m curious to see how it’ll be at the end of the bag as well. We’re freezing the beans in the hopes of keeping them fresh, but TBD how that affects the taste.
I drink coffee every once in a blue moon, though Mrs. FR drinks it very regularly. We usually buy ours from Costco and she varies from time to time in what she’ll pick out – usually depends on cost and what she’s in the mood for at the time. We’ve canceled numerous and previously thought untouchable expenses over the years – what’s crazy is nearly every time we ask ourselves why we didn’t do it earlier.
Totally! We always think “why were we ever paying for X in the first place?” It’s amazing how much you can cut out without even missing it.
We drink costco coffee and we like it. However, they do have better coffee in our offices. I guess that’s one small perk of working the 9-5.
True–that is a 9-5 perk for sure!
We get this one at Costco to stay organic. $8/lb
Good to know–thank you for the suggestion!
We also drink this & love it. We buy it in store in our Costco (a 2 lb bag for about $14), and it goes on sale every few months in store.
Thanks for the intel :)!
Coffee can be such a money drain – either by going to Starbucks or purchasing your fave beans. I’m a fan of Costco too but I spring for the Starbucks French Roast but ONLY when it’s on sale. If not on sale, no coffee. Sadly, I’m one of the few that cannot drink coffee every day. It turns me into a maniacal freak of nature – the side effects are not pretty. Who knew I could be allergic to coffee? Ugh. Great savings catch! Surprisingly, this one works for wine too.
That’s a good strategy–no sale, no coffee. I am one of those people who needs 1 cup per day… I found out during my first trimester of pregnancy that I am not a happy camper without my 1 cup of caffeine ;). And, you’re so right, this totally works for wine! I’ve been drinking boxed wine for years (well, not now obviously 🙂 ), but it’s way cheaper and still tastes great.
We have been drinking coffee from Costco for years. Our local Costco used to have an in-house roaster, so the beans were always very freshly roasted. You know how Sam’s smells like tires? Our Costco always smelled like coffee. Alas, they got rid of the roaster a couple years back, so we were forced to search the rank and file for an alternative. We found this option at our Costco: http://rutamaya.net/. You might check to see if your Costco offers other options besides the Kirkland Signature brand. Sometimes with coffee, they have a regional offering.
We also have friends who roast their own coffee which they buy from Sweet Maria’s in green form. Another good option if you are a coffee drinker!
Mmmm a Costco that smells like coffee sounds heavenly! Ours just smells like… uh, warehouse maybe? Definitely not coffee ;). Thanks for the coffee rec–I’ll have to check and see if they have that next time we’re there. Good call on home roasting–we’re actually in the market for a used coffee roaster right now :).
Nice! The best coffee I’ve ever had was home-roasted by our friends, but it was too expensive for us to buy it from them on a regular basis. Mary Hunt who has written the “Everyday Cheapskate” column for many years has written about roasting her own beans and has a pretty good tutorial if you are interested. I think she started doing it using a popcorn popper!
Good to know–thanks!
I love Costco coffee, but I now try to buy fair-trade. Is the Costco coffee fair-trade? That’s another reason to splurge for costlier beans–the environmental and sociological benefit of putting money where your mouth is. I love Costco a lot, but like any major product order, they can make mistakes with who they buy from. A few months ago it turned out Costco was buying shrimp from slave ships in Thailand. They seemed to have stopped ordering from the company at least.
yes, this would be my concern too.
Good point, I’ll have to check and see if Costco offers a fair trade option–hopefully so!
I buy this one from Costco and really like it: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/81OOzNwZqQL._SL1500_.jpg. It’s roasted by Starbucks and Fair Trade. I think the huge bag is around $10. I’m going to try out their decaf blend next trip!
Oooo, that sounds like something we’d like! We’re definitely medium-roast lovers. Thanks for the suggestion!
Ah, coffee! Coffee is one of our luxury items, too. I think it’s $10 for half a pound. It is glorious and delicious and amazing. At that price, we recognize it as one of our most extravagant purchases, not due to total spending, but due to price relative to all of the other options for coffee. We generally only use a bag a month, though, so $120 a year overall.
May I, humbly, offer forth a suggestion? I don’t know if it was due to the exacting science required for blind taste testing, but have you considered a reusable filter, or a french press, to avoid having to buy coffee filters? Most reusable filters pay for themselves after 1.5-2 boxes (in my limited experience), and I once had an $8 french press (I still do, it’s in the camping gear).
Less garbage and long term lower costs 🙂
Interesting point on the reusable filters–we’d read that they get gross over time and make the coffee taste odd. Have they worked well for you though? Might be time for us to do a filter experiment :)!
We do have a French Press, but we don’t have a great grinder and unfortunately, a bunch of bean bits get into our coffee when we use our French Press (and I actually don’t like the taste quite as much). We’ve cycled through a number of different coffee making systems over the years and the pour-over seems to be the best fit for us, but, I’m intrigued by the reusable filter idea… thanks for suggesting!
The following article might help regarding the reusable filters. I use the brown organic paper because it reduces the oils that can increase LDL levels….”The cholesterol-raising ingredients in coffee are oily substances called diterpenes, and the two main types in coffee are cafestol (pronounced CAF-es-tol) and kahweol (pronounced KAH-we-awl). They are present either as oily droplets or in the grounds floating in the coffee. But a paper filter traps most of the cafestol and kahweol, so coffee that’s been filtered probably has little, if any, effect on cholesterol levels.”
Thanks for sharing! We use the unbleached brown paper filters as well.
Me too! We are coffee “kindred spirits” (I even use the same Melitta cone!). LOL.
Fascinating, I have never heard of any of this. I drink espresso most of the time that I do have coffee , so I guess I’m loading up on the LDLs.
As for the reusable filters, I haven’t tried them out in the pour over scenario, but my parents have used them for years and years in a drip coffee maker, and now the reusable k-cups (my mom wouldn’t let my dad get a keurig until those things existed).
I used to rinse them out most of the time in the sink, and then every few weeks run it through the dishwasher. I never noticed any degradation or quality loss from using one.
Good to know re. the reusable filters!
If you read further studies, done more recently by the Harvard medical school, they state that the fats in the coffee may have health benefits and they need to research further.
We do not grind our own beans (I know–the horror!) So we don’t buy coffee at Costco because that much ground coffee would DEFINITELY go bad!
We buy Seattle’s Best at the grocery store. (Medium roast. The kids like to help find the bag with a 4 on it.) We used to buy Starbucks brand ground coffee, but then they stopped giving you a free brewed coffee with every bag and we were drinking more coffee, so we decided Seattle’s Best would be just as good for much cheaper. (I think it’s about $5, maybe a little more, for a 12-ounce bag, versus closer to $8 for our old kind.)
I am still clinging to the sacred cow of expensive haircuts. I have yet to find a good solution for chin-length hair that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg–too complicated for Mr. FP to manage at home.
Haha, I’m going to buy you a grinder :). Although your coffee sounds like a pretty good deal.
I don’t drink coffee. My parents always said I’d like the taste when you grow up. Well I’m almost 24 and I still don’t like it 😉
I’ve been contemplating switching from soymilk to regular milk. I thought in the past that I’m lactose intolerant, but perhaps I’m not anymore? I’ve been trying out normal milk recently and I seem to be okay. Soymilk normally costs me more than double regular milk.
I think soymilk tastes better, but like your situation, does soymilk taste twice as good? It’s not easily quantifiable but I’d surmise no. And I’m sure after a couple weeks of just drinking normal milk I’ll have forgotten what I’m missing and milk will taste great.
” was enough to peak my curiosity”: peak -> pique
Given that I consume so little (your mileage may vary), I find soy is cheaper than milk because I waste less than when I could buy milk, because I get the shelf stable kind. It also means I can stock up when it’s on sale. That said, I know milk is cheaper in the US than in Canada, so maybe it doesn’t make any sense at all.
Haha I can certainly see how the shelf stability of soymilk can make it cheaper.
Not in my case though, I go through a half gallon in a couple days.
Oh man, I’m going through a lot of milk these days myself! Costco sells cartons of organic milk, which usually have an expiration date for about 6 weeks from purchase, so I’ve found those to be a great deal. Lots cheaper than the regular grocery store.
P.S. Thanks for the edit 😉
Does it actually last six weeks for you? I find that while it’s good for six weeks when unopened, after opening it only lasts 1.5-2 weeks.
It definitely lasts six weeks unopened. I drink a carton a week, so I’ve never had it spoil on me. The cardboard cartons (which are what my Costco milk comes in) seem to have a longer shelf life than the clear plastic ones.
I switched to black coffee when my milk sensitivities became too great. Honestly, if you give it a week or 10 days of drinking black coffee, you won’t want to go back! Milk itself is heavily processed in our country (pasteurized–which affects the protein structure), and contains natural estrogen from the cows as well as whatever chemicals are added to it. It’s neither healthy nor necessary for a balanced diet. Soy milk is a highly processed food. Almond milk is hard to find in this country without additives (carrageenan, aka MSG), though I hear its easy to make your own. I find it easier to avoid the white stuff altogether (aside from very occasional ice cream :-)).
That’s a tough one. I hear you that the savings are technically ‘real money’, but just about everything seems material when blown out to a yearly expenditure.
There’s evidence that the small regular dose of happiness from a very good cup of coffee gives a lot more ongoing pleasure than the big, one-time purchase. (From The Myths of Happiness, I think.) I think you’re better off paying for the best coffee you can (or the one you really like the best), since you’re making it at home.
The Costco brand may be a better value, of course. But with small and regular expenditures, value can be a deceiving metric.
That’s a great point and it’s definitely part of our consideration in this whole experiment. We don’t want to reduce our pleasure to the point of no longer savoring our coffee. But, if we can get the same (or similar) benefit from the cheaper stuff, then we’ll make the switch permanent. Life is definitely too short to drink truly bad coffee ;)!
Thank you for this experiment, as I have been wondering this exact same thing for awhile now! Also, ooooh to your fancy pour-over style–I’ve also been dying to try this method out!
The pour-over method works great for us–we love it! It’s super inexpensive, easy, and you can make exactly how much you want to drink.
Where do you get your expensive coffee bean? We are always in search of good coffee. From your pictures, do you use pour over brewing method? I have never tried it before and was wondering if it yields better results comparing to the ones made by my coffee maker.
We bought our expensive beans at the Harvest Co-op Market. We do indeed use the pour-over method and its been a great system for us. The cones and filters and quite cheap and you can make the exact number of cups you want. I think it tastes better than coffee pot or French Press coffee, but that’s just my opinion :).
We often buy coffee at Costco. My husband tried it once and forgot he needed to grind it, but we did dig out the grinder (used previously for spices) and that worked.
4 out of 7 days a week, I drink “free coffee”, aka, “work coffee”.
Free coffee is certainly the best coffee ;)!
I’m surprised you left out the “fair trade” part. Yes, the coffee is more expensive, but part of the reason isn’t JUST higher quality coffee. It’s also that the workers are treated better (typically, unfortunately not guaranteed, but typically).
Full disclosure: despite wanting to buy sustainable coffee ourselves, we’re in a major pinch right now and have decided to go into maximum austerity mode, so back to cheap coffee again for the little bit we do drink.
$10ish a pound is a good price. I was paying closer to $14 a pound for ours.
Huh, I belatedly realized the coffee I’d gotten at Costco is Fair Trade Certified. Mine was the “House Blend Medium Roast”. Definitely not as good as the $$$ coffee, but still a good cuppa – brews up full bodied and quite strong.
That’s great that you found Costco coffee that’s Fair Trade–I’ll have to look for it next time we’re there. That would certainly be the perfect solution!
Super interesting! I’m glad to hear Costco beans don’t suck that much 🙂 It is so important to question all your purchases, even the ones you hold on dearly to.
I’m glad they don’t suck either ;)! It was touch and go there before we tasted them…
Thanks for giving the world Frugal Hound! She always makes me smile!
Awww, thank you! You’re most welcome 🙂
I read this while drinking my Costco coffee. 🙂 Team Costco Coffee!
I used to be an expensive coffee person and *gasp* I used to also drink regularly from Starbucks. FB Hubby and I have a sort of compromise where we drink dunkin donuts coffee that we buy in bulk from Sam’s Club. Compared to Starbucks we save thousands a year by making the change and while we could find cheaper coffee we look at it as the Starbucks saver and we’re not ready to try something else cheaper just yet.
Nice! That’s awesome you’re saving so much per year!
I cut and dye my own hair now and can’t for the life of me understand why I ever paid anybody else to do it! My current coffee is a (relatively) expensive medium roast but is the best I’ve ever tasted at 48.90 SEK/500g (roughly $6/lb) – organic, fair trade and the best for a french press that I can find at my local grocery store (no coffee filters = less waste + money saved + yummier coffee). Triple bonus “yay!” for the as-new Bodum french press I found for free 🙂 The option would be conventionally grown coffee or an expensive specialty store, which really is no option… That’s not to say I haven’t been shopping around for the past few years, but organic + fair trade + french press ground + grocery store availability makes it a bit tricky. I’m justifying it with cutting my consumption from 3 cups to 1-2 cups a day and not needing filters… 🙂
I did experiment with cutting coffee completely, but that only worked for a few weeks… challenge everything for sure, but sometimes I have to admit defeat, at least for a while 😉
Yeah, I too cannot cut coffee completely… nor do I want to ;). I’m not a happy camper without my one cup every morning!
i’ll just sub in “tea” where you put coffee in this post and same story, really. A day that doesn’t start with a hot cup of black tea with cream and sugar is not a day I want to live. I was hooked on the PG tips bags, they come out to about .10 each- I justified it b/c .10 day is freaking fantastic compared to basically any coffee alternative, esp. lattes out. However, I realized fairly quickly that the .03 bags of Irish breakfast from trader joes are equally satisfying. (I think they are even the exact same bags as one of the higher end companies, just branded differently. TJs is always doing that.) So, even though .10/day was quite minimal, we’re done with that!
Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if you two are a little tough to buy gifts for because you don’t want anything, fancy fair trade coffee for xmas might be a nice thing to ask for if people insist on getting you gifts. (unless someone catches on that you’re basically asking for groceries for Christmas. 🙂 )
I’ve actually asked for groceries for Christmas before (well, for gift cards to the grocery store and Costco), but no one believed me! But yes, that is actually what I really want ;). Your tea solution sounds great–nicely done on reducing costs there!
also- another comment on the filters/French press argument- We use very inexpensive unbleached filters for my husband’s pour-over coffee, and they go in our compost that is picked up by the city every week (yay San Francisco!). Out in California we’re in a drought and the water that it takes to hand wash a fragile French press (that is a pain in the butt! we have one! I’ve done it a lot!) could possibly be more of an environmental impact than the composted coffee filter and quick rinse I give the pourover thing. I’m very concerned about my trash impact, and I do things like use reusable bags constantly, I get my jugs of detergent and shampoo refilled at the hippy store, and I use the paperkarma app and optoutprescreen.com to unsubscribe from junk mail. I’m less concerned about a small box of compostable coffee filters we go through once a year or so. I guess I feel less guilty when I’m able to compost something.
We use those cheap, unbleached filters too–they work great!
I get the kind that is roasted by Starbucks and Fair Trade. At around $10, it is a great value! I need to get the set up that you have going! My refillable k cups are no good.
We love the pour-over method! It’s quite inexpensive, easy, and you can make the exact number of cups you want. Plus, I think it tastes the best of all the brewing methods we’ve tried over the years.
FWIW, I tamp my coffee with an expired incandescent light bulb.
I thought I had heard or read that Kirkland coffee was Starbucks…not completely sure about that, but anyway! It’s always tough to decide if it’s worth buying a certain un-tested item at Costco for fear we won’t like it. The Kirkland beer for example we’re unsure about, but good for you guys for taking the plunge!
It really is a risk with Costco–the quantities are so huge that you’re stuck with a lot of stuff! We always reason that we can eat anything for a month or so ;). But yes, I’m very relieved that the coffee tastes good!
fun reading your blog, love my coffee from my french press, but I can drink coffee from anywhere, love a good road trip coffee! But no one uses my french press but me and I need to work on my frugal skills….
Thanks so much for reading! Coffee is almost always a good thing for sure 🙂
I doubled my coffee intake from 1 to 2 cups a day after having kids and at that point decided I needed to try ALDI’s least expensive coffee. I’ve found that, while it isn’t as good as super-expensive beans, I like it better than some of the inexpensive national brands. Now I stick to it unless there’s a special event like vacation or house guests. Drinking cheap coffee also makes the rare coffee out even more of a treat.I agree that something needs to be twice as good to cost twice as much!
The Medium Roast in the Dark Black bags is my favorite, and my little sister, a coffee aficionado has deemed it a “top bean pick” in the medium roast category.
I don’t like the cheap stuff in the buckets nearly as much.
I hadn’t thought of Aldi’s for coffee–good to know that they have tasty options. Thanks, ladies :)!
We have that same grinder and a very similar pour-over cone, and they are both totally adequate (although I wouldn’t recommend trying to pulverize almonds in the grinder. I’m just saying). Sometimes (read: Sunday) we’ll make a french press of the nice coffee beans from our local coffee shop. Most of the time, though, we just drink Cafe Bustelo: super cheap and strong and nice with milk. It’s definitely not winning any gourmet coffee contests, but I’m fine with that. Combining cheap and expensive works pretty well for us, and keeps the nice coffee feeling like a treat.
You’re the second person to recommend Cafe Bustelo, so I’ll have to see if our Costco carries it. And, duly noted on the almonds 🙂
Be aware that it usually comes preground! You’ll definitely want to put a Costco-sized bag in the freezer.
When the day comes that one of your Melitta dripper dies (which I hope does not happen anytime soon!), consider getting the Hario V60 dripper. I thought my husband was being silly when he sidelined our old Melitta dripper to get the Hario but the shape of the cone does result in a stronger coffee flavor. I got one to the office to stop myself buying coffee and it’s been working very well.
Thanks for the recommendation–I’ll have to look into that. Fortunately, our Melittas have been going strong for about 6 years, so hopefully they’ll keep up the good work for awhile longer :).
10 a pound is a decent price. We were paying almost 16 per pound (canada) for organic direct from pickers non farmed (ie grown in forest naturally) frog friendly coffee. It was good and the ethics felt great but that’s a lot. Now have been buying nabob espresso rainforest alliance certified for about 7-8 a pound. I’m sure it’s worse ethically but tastes pretty good.
Oh wow, $16/lb is a lot! That’s great that you found a less expensive solution, and, glad to hear that the taste is still good.
You are a braver soul than I. I drink a handful of brands from our store – whichever is cheapest / on sale *of those brands*. I will occasionally venture outside of those brands to taste test something on sale. It usually tastes like cigarette ashes, but I gave it a shot! I’m glad your massive experiment was not so yucky!
I’m glad too–I was a little worried we might be stuck drinking foul coffee for a month! Fortunately, it really does taste pretty good. Life is definitely too short to drink bad coffee ;).
I love that you challenge every aspect of your spending, and I try to do the same myself. But for me it’s always a balance between saving money, and using my dollars to support the world I want to live in. If I could afford it, I’d buy everything fair trade, organic, etc. etc. But the reality is I just can’t afford to do that all the time. Sometimes I have to make the less stellar choice in order to keep my own life moving towards my goals (a down payment on land for our organic farm, ironically enough). I don’t drink coffee, but my husband buys his at Sam’s club. Their regular coffee is $5.92/pound, but he buys the fair trade organic coffee for $7/pound. I’m sure you two know all this, but since coffee is produced in some of the more ecologically fragile areas in the world, and where workers are most vulnerable to abuse, we really feel it’s worth it to invest a little more in beans that have been produced fairly. Anyway, I wonder if your Costco has an organic option that would still be cheaper than your original source?
Yep, that’s a great point. I’ll have to see if Costco offers a Fair Trade option next time we’re there.
Since my wife’s pregnant, we’ve switched over to half decaf half regular coffee. We got a locally roasted/organic brand for the decaf and just use the big bag of regular coffee from costco. It’s pretty good and still tastes much better than that crap in a can. I just can’t stomach that coffee since I drink it black. Tastes like an ashtray!
I think the important thing is that you’re consciously spending, not just going crazy and buying everything!
Ugh, yeah, I couldn’t do coffee from a can either. Some things in life are just not worth the savings ;). I drank decaf for my first trimester and hated it (gross-ness), so I was really excited when my doctor said I could have regular from the second trimester on! It has made me a much happier person :).
Yeah, there’s a lot of “we don’t know how this can affect a fetus so we’ll just say don’t have it” going on in the whole OB world. My wife’s midwife said it was fine if she had 2 cups a day every day. She has one big half/half cup so it’s probably like one full caffeinated one. And don’t even get me started on the whole listeria and lunch meat. You’re much more likely to get it from veggies that aren’t washed enough!
After I clicked on your post title, my heart began to race…my pulse quickened..,”I bet The Frigalwoods are trying the Costco coffee with the cat eyes on the bag!!!”
Sadly, I could not recall the exact name of the beans, but know that the bag had eyes of a large cat- tiger-ish or leopard…funny how your brain remembers these things!!
We did drink Costco Columbian ( tiger eyes) for quite awhile. We did switch over to a $10.50 a pound Eco- friendly/ fair trade bean available at our local food co-op. Really the only reason we switched was because we are trying to support our neighborhood co-op as its just breaking even right now. So from there I select 8 items that are not ridiculously priced so I can 1) judiciously support this business adventure
2) not blow our food budget.
My coffee observations are similar to yours. It’s good, for sure, but does lack some of the depth and complexity of the more expensive beans. We tried to counter this by grinding it into a slightly finer consistency. We also experimented with a slight increase in the ratio of coffee grounds to water. Perhaps a slight improvement noted.
I’ll be anxiously awaiting the results of your month- long analysis.
I feel the same way about a delicious single cup of coffee brewed at home each morning. No coffee chain holds an appeal for me!!!
Yes! It is indeed the jaguar/tiger/leopard eyes bag ;)! Sounds like you’re striking a great balance with supporting your co-op, but still staying within budget. And, I agree with you, I don’t like coffee chain coffee either—yuck. Though of course I do love super expensive high-end coffee joints… which is why we’re better off brewing at home :).
Mr. FI and I are big fans of Costa Rican coffee (probably because studying abroad in CR is where Mr. FI learned to like coffee). We get ours from World Market whenever we are low and get that 10% off coup in our email (we’ve gotten rather good at making the coffee last until we get the new coup haha). It’s not super pricey (I believe it’s about $8-10 for a 24oz bag), but we’ve often considered getting coffee from Costco in the past for a little extra savings. The only thing that’s kept us from getting one of their ‘mega-bags’ is that I’m really the only one who drinks coffee regularly, and I only have one cup a day in the morning. Mr. FI will typically only drink coffee on the weekends (if that), so it’s hard to justify a huge bag sitting on the counter for months when our little WM bag fits so nicely next to our coffee maker 😉 Every once in a while we’ll try a different coffee from WM if it’s on sale, but their brand of CR coffee is our fave.
Great point on the quantity of Costco beans–this is a concern of ours as well. We’re freezing the beans in the hopes that it’ll preserve their flavor. We’ll have to see how they are towards the end of the month :).
Thanks for sharing your taste test of Costco coffee. It’s all a matter of personal taste of course and even though you noticed a difference in the coffee it came down to how much was that difference worth in terms of money savings. I guess coffee can be considered one of those “frugal indulgences” most partake as brewing your own coffee at home, even expensive brews, is way more frugal than buying it by the cup on the outside. Of course, I may be partial to gourmet coffee (shameless plug ahead 🙂 ) as I sell hundreds of single origin and blends exclusively from micro-coffee roasters across this country. Just an FYI. Thanks again for this taste test.
True–it really is a “frugal indulgence” since we do save so much by brewing at home. I was truly surprised at how good the Costco coffee is, and we’ll have to see how it tastes at the end of the month (after being in the freezer). Mmmm, I bet your coffee is absolutely delicious!
I’m actually trying to veer away from coffee in favour of green tea. I think that some people are more sensitive to coffee than others – and I’m one of them. When I did drink coffee, it was Costco’s Folgers. I’m no connoisseur : ) On another note, I was interested to see that you are indeed drinking coffee in your pregnancy. When I was having my children – and it’s been a while now, our youngest having turned 16 – there was a fairly general understanding that it was a good idea not to drink alcohol or coffee. “Wisdom” in childcare and pregnancy change with time though. Is the coffee thing not considered a concern anymore?
Coffee is indeed not a concern anymore–as long as it’s drunk in reasonable quantities. I think the upper max recommended is 3 cups per day. I just drink one cup and my doctor said that’s completely fine. I did switch to decaf out of an abundance of caution during my first trimester since there is a slight correlation between early-term miscarriage and caffeine (though the study cited it was tons of caffeine). But, my doctor said there’s no problem with some caffeine during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, so I’m happy to be back on the regular coffee train :).
I like all coffee. I currently use k-cups in the morning which aren’t the most frugal, but I’m just me and making a pot in the morning wouldn’t be the best for one cup. Once I have someone to split the coffee pot with in the morning, I’ll switch over to beans and a proper drip coffee machine 🙂
May I introduce you to the pour-over method, my friend ;). All you need is a Melitta cone, a filter, coffee beans, and hot water. With this method, you can make just one cup at a time. And, I think the flavor is vastly better than coffee-maker coffee. Yum!
Is it sacrilegious to suggest you try mixing half costco and half fancy beans? The lower quality of the cheap ones might not be so apparent, and you can still save. I recommend keeping beans sealed tightly in the freezer for max flavor, and grinding fresh beans daily rather than storing ground coffee….
Not sacrilegious at all :)! Good idea! And, we do indeed grind our beans fresh every morning. I’ve got the whole beans sealed inside a ziplock bag in the freezer right now, so we’ll see how they hold up for the month.
I don’t consider myself a coffee snob, but I do like a cup of nice brew. I have been buying Costco’s whole beans as well, and for around $5.50/lb, it is a great deal for fresh beans.
I agree that the cost savings ultimately isn’t going to make or break your retirement/FI, but every little bit counts.
Good to know that you’ve been enjoying the Costco beans! So true that every little bit adds up–it’s what comprises our savings rate at the end of the day.
I love coffee. And, one of my favorite is the versanto force 3x hypercaffeinated ground coffee of Costco. Its authentic taste. Yay! I am sure you have tried this Frugalwoods.
Haven’t tried that one–thanks for the suggestion!
Nice timing! We just tried this experiment with the House Blend a month ago, and picked up the Colombian yesterday to try it too. The lack of clear window in the package to see the roast level drives me batty.
Costco doesn’t sell anything that would even approach a medium roast by my standards — everything ranges from “dark and oily” to “extremely dark and incredibly oily”.
My preferences run to light and city roasts, mostly courtesy of some time spent in Colombia, where I first found out that coffee could taste like something if not roasted all to heck 🙂
By comparison to the light-to-city roasts we get for *stupid* money (in bubble-time SF this ranges from about $16lb – $22lb at most small retailers), neither of these Costco options is very good. I’ve gotten some recommendations for nice lighter-roast beans from some smaller shops out towards the beach (shout out to Simple Pleasures) at more like $12/lb, which I’ll try soon.
The Costco “medium” house blend has the typical Starbucks slightly-fishy overroasted scent, also common to Sumatras I’ve gotten at TJ’s and elsewhere. It brews up pretty acrid – similar results from Aeropress and french press. Haven’t bothered to do pourover with it, but I haven’t seen much improvement from other over-roasted stuff in that treatment either.
The Colombian is definitely better — a shade lighter but still oily. Smells fresh and coffeelike. Passable, not great, in the Aeropress, we’ll see how it does by other means this week.
Both actually perform better as espresso — short extraction and pressure suits the darker roast, I guess.
My solution to the “problem” of 3lb bags of over-roasted beans is to cold-brew — it’s way less revealing of off-flavors, and cold-brew with milk tastes relatively similar regardless of the beans. I’m working on a semi-novel cold-brew filtration system exploiting my vaccum sealer and a modified jar sealer attachment to make the filtration process quick and clean — at some point I’ll put that up on reddit.
But if I actually had to care about spending money on coffee, I could get used to the Colombian, even hot-brewed. Heck, I spent two weeks drinking off-the-shelf Finnish pre-ground Juhla Mokka spiked with cardamom over a very dark Xmas in Lapland. Context is everything.
We’re fans of lighter medium roasts as well and this seemed to be one of the only medium whole bean options that Costco sells. So far, so good! It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely not bad either. Oh man, we’ve had to drink Nescafe while traveling in Europe before–it’s pretty terrible ;)!
I have to agree with Done by Forty. I think I coffee is a small pleasure that is absolutely worth the expense. May I suggest trying Four Barrel Coffee against the Costo brand? It tends to be a lighter roast, but the favors are amazing.
For us it’s all about finding that right balance between enjoying life and frugality–we’ll see if the Costco coffee stacks up after a month :). Thanks for the suggestion of Four Barrel!
An often overlooked option comes from all or nothing thinking. If the frugal product is not quite up to par but close…it can be mixed 50/50
with the less-frugalie-stuff, often for great results.
Definitely something to consider! We’ll have to see how we feel about the Costco coffee after the month trial :).
Instead of a cone and a filter, I use a coffee sock (google it)…no filters to buy! You can even make one yourself if you don’t want to buy one using a piece of wire and cheesecloth or linen or something similar 🙂
We typically go with the Costco brand, but the Costa Rica dark roast (red bag). If I recall, it was 12.99 here in the Midwest.
We have also been questioning everything, even my sacred coffee. Hubby drink light roast and I love dark coffee. Finding a Costco compromise meant the Rawandan, which works for both of us. However, Aldi has a very fine frugal solution…..Fair Trade dark roast for me and light roast for my honey. This former Starbucks snob has been reformed to the tune of 12oz. for $3.99!!! Hooray and huzzah. No worries about using a large bag or compromising preferences.
This is the first post of yours that I don’t entirely agree with — to give up organic fair trade coffee for commercial/industrial coffee beans, especially when pregnant. I prioritize organic food and the more research i do, the more convinced I am that organic coffee is a hard line, no compromise treat. i drink less coffee since settling on my favorite brand (Dean’s Beans, Orange, MA, bought once a month at their roasting facility, whole bean, stored in the freezer and ground fresh daily). We vote with our dollars and fair trade gets my vote. That’s not enough money to save if it’s at the expense of people elsewhere on this planet not being treated fairly. from a website, I just googled: “Fair Trade certification also requires that the growers group proves its own practices are within a set of ethical standards that include, among other things: acceptable working conditions, the absence of child labor, and ecologically responsible farming. ” and this from Equal Exchange website, “First, conventional coffee is among the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world. It is steeped in synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides – a real mouthful with a bad taste. Not only does the environment suffer from this overload, but so do the people who live in it. Farmers are exposed to a high level of chemicals while spraying the crops and while handling them during harvest. The surrounding communities are also impacted through chemical residues in the air and water. These chemical presences are not just unpleasant; many are highly toxic and detrimental to human health.”
I respect you both, Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods, just something else to remember.
I want to recommend to you a book that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE – The Better World Shopping Guide. Based on TONS of empirical evidence, research and analysis they break many consumer categories down by most popular brands. Dean’s Beans have received an A+ rating!
Thought you’d be interested, if you weren’t already aware of it!
Dear Mr and Mrs Frugalwoods … just a thought but I notice you make your coffee using a filter which means you buy filter papers. Have you ever tried making coffee in what you would call a french press (we call it a cafetiere on this side of the pond!). I have a double-wall metal cafetiere which negates the need for a filter and keeps the coffee hot … you can get them in different sizes and the size that makes two mugs if you fill two-thirds full is this one http://www.amazon.com/Grunwerg-Double-Insulated-Stainless-French/dp/B004476VXU/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1442166841&sr=8-7&keywords=grunwerg+double+wall+french+press … love your stuff … thank you for keeping this blog!
Lol. I drink No Name coffee from Superstore. $6.00 and it lasts me 4 months
I’ve read this post 3 times now.
…DH and I still drink our fancy, local roasted, fair trade, yada yada coffee straight from the roasters.
Well, one step at a time!
I admit it, I am a total coffee snob. In fact, I am writing an e-book on coffee and have sampled at the very least 75 different brands. For the most part I prefer organic coffee. Folks coffee is one of the most spray crops out there and I have visited coffee plantations in South America and can attest to that. Leaving out the really gourmet high priced stuff, which I can hardly afford but once a year, I have found for frugality, Don Pablo coffee, both the regular and the organic to be one of the best. It is about $13.99 for two pounds on Amazon. The non-organic Guatemalan one is the best and even though it is not certified organic it is grown in the mountains in shade and needs less spraying.
Thanks Janet Maggio! I was specifically searching for reasonably priced, but definitely organic, coffee that I could buy online. I just ordered 2 lbs of the Don Pablo and am looking forward to trying it. Love the Frugalwoods and winning at the frugal yet totally abundant lifestyle.
Question – I also have this setup (same melitta cone and same grinder!). I have a problem with the paper filters ripping, causing grinds to escape. I read this can be due to too fine/inconsistent of a grind which clogs up the hole, causing you to poke at it (and cause the ripping). What’s your secret? What setting do you grind on?
Hmmm, interesting! We grind it on the Espresso setting and haven’t had that problem. Good luck!
Hey there! I do Trader Joe’s cold-brewed at $7.99/bottle and make iced coffee at home with cream and sugar every morning. It’s about $1 per coffee when you count every ingredient but better than the $5 I was spending at Starbucks. Sometimes if I’m feeling inspired by someone like YOU 🙂 I will make my own cold-brewed using coffee grounds and save about 50%. It all adds up!
Hi Mrs. FW! Can you please update us on if you are still drinking Costso coffee? I was there yesterday and checking it out, which lead me to research and land on your site. I need to buy new beans soon, so I was wondering your final thoughts on Costso Coffee. Thanks!
Hi Kay! I’m actually drinking Costco coffee as I write this :). Yes, we are still pleased with it and have been drinking it ever since. We do buy our decaf coffee elsewhere as Costco doesn’t seem to have a whole bean medium roast decaf. But for our caffeinated morning cup, it’s Costco all the way. Hope this helps!
Awesome! I bought some at Costco the other day and really enjoy it! I got High Desert Roasters Organic Rainforest, Medium Roast, 2.5 lb and on sale for $10. I’m glad I tried it! It taste fresh to me.
Where did you buy your coffee before Costco? I’m in the Pacific Northwest and 12oz sets me back upwards of $15.
I too am obsessed with gourmet coffee. But alas, I am also addicted to coffee. So, I make a compromise with myself weekly. I buy the Sam’s Club Cafe Bustelo (as another commenter mentioned) and that is my week-day morning Joe. But! OH HO! On the weekends, I enjoy hand-ground ultra premium gourmet goodness. I make this drink of the gods, by using my Hario hand-grinder bought on Amazon for $12, FIVE years ago, and a melita pour over apparatus (with one of those reusable cloth-style filters that I made from cotton bought on sale (and which I also use to make skirts and shirts). Yes, Weekend Coffee is my favorite coffee, but I feel like it makes my Weekend Coffee so much more enjoyable week after week. It really feels like a splurge, and one more thing to look forward to on Saturday mornings. This keeps my coffee costs nearly as low as possible, without really sacrificing much.
I love coffee. But the price here for instant coffee is outrageous. 6.50 € a small can . (I’m in Greece ) I buy store brand for 3.50 .doesn’t taste the same but the price is a big difference. We are frugal because we have to be now.
Since we are going through a great crisis. Every penny counts.
Ohh yeah. Our income was cut by 75% when I had to retire early due to medical (thankfully I was frugal before and socked away a ton of money and had a pension plan) and my husband was forced to take a part time job (thankfully with medical benefits).I will not give up my one cup of coffee in the morning and it has to be pretty good. I have a Keurig but I put my own coffee in it or I use my trusty old percolator.Life is good,makes you appreciate what you really can do without.On a side note I’m reading a book about organizing and embracing minimalism and it’s amazing how much “stuff” i have cleaned out and donated. This just make me think, I have my grandmothers (now antique) wood and iron hand crank coffee grinder they used on the farm, maybe I should give it a try, I have been just using it as decor. 🙂
I’m a die hard Costco fan, but refused to try the Costco brand until one day, while shopping at the original Kirkland, WA store, a total stranger came up to me as I was reaching for the Starbucks brand. He casually mentioned Starbucks roasts the Costco coffee!. Who knew? I have been forever grateful ever since and think back fondly to that nice man every time I reach for my bag of Costco coffee…roasted by Starbucks!
I’ve noticed over the years that Costco has a rotation of coffee beans that it sells in-store. It’s more than likely due to the seasonality of the coffee beans themselves, I’ve loved buying the various blends from Guatemala, Rwanda, Sumatra, Colombia, PNG, etc. but I also found them selling different blends, too. And the price points are similar. The only roast that seems to be expensive are the Starbucks own brands they occasionally sell. Of course, you’ll notice that the roasting point of all the blends tends to the medium or medium~dark to dark roast. If you prefer lighter roasts, like Starbucks ‘blonde’ or cinnamon roasts, you really have to look elsewhere. And it can get a little tedious drinking the same coffee blend FOREVER, esp. if the beans are ‘past’ their best.
I’m a miserly minimalist and finally gave up on The Giddy Goat’s special artisan roasted organic coffee beans at a delicious $15-18 a pound. I just buy the $4.99 six-pound can of whatever medium roast house brand is on sale and it lasts me two months. I do splurge on organic softly pressed virgin unprocessed coconut oil at $8 a pound. That’s because I already keep my food budget very low by growing my own vegetables, raising my own chickens and guinea hens, bartering for deer meat and soup bones, and refusing to buy any manufactured foods. Traditional processing, like for teas, coffees, olive oils, coconut oils, herbs, spices, and dehydrated foods I don’t do myself are allowed on my minimal food plan. I can make anything I need from basic ingredients. But, I do love to stop at The Giddy Goat once a month and have one of their $1.50 brews while I go over my grocery list and borrow their WiFi. >^;^<
This same Costco coffee is $4.99 at amzon w/ free shipping.
Not liking the expense of cone coffee filters, I made my own reusable ones with my sisters unbleached muslin quilt scraps. Kind of like the “coffee sock” used in Mexico. Rinse out in very hot water.
what we do is buy the Costco beans and blend it with the better beans. It allows us to still get the better depth while cutting the price down greatly.
As someone who seems to invest a lot of energy into brewing the perfect cup (I’m right there with you), I would strongly suggest investing in a burr grinder. That blade grinder you’re using will not give you the consistency that you need when grinding coffee beans.
Is it organic? With coffee being one of the most highly sprayed crops (and they actually save the worst of it for the US because we will accept it), I am not willing to move away from organic coffee. I can’t tell from the packaging. Thanks!
I have used the trick of using a cheap version and just putting a tablespoon of the expensive version in with the cheap.
You get the same taste, but in a frugal way.
Sorry I’m way late to the game here, but I just switched from our local grocers Organic roasted on-site beans to Costco’s hundred percent organic fair-trade Peruvian. Half the price. And still good coffee! I know before they didn’t have any organic options but now they do.
Costco carries a great organic rainforest blend that’s been our standby for years. Give it a try!
I love the blog. You guys look like such a happy and close family. I would like to say that Cosco Coffee is not to bad. I have made it a habit to actually start roasting the green beans myself. You can do this with a cast iron skillet. You can just toss the beans around without letting them spend to much time in the same spot. Once they crack, you can pull the beans and grind them. If you like a dark roast, simply wait until you hear the second pop. I love this review btw.
I found your site by looking for a replacement coffee for the superb Costco Columbia Supremo coffee beans, roasted in store, fresh ground, or not, by customer in store. It was an extreme disappointment when Costco quit offering this service. (though we can still grind beans in store.) I have been using the same bag of Costco coffee that you have chosen, but am disappointed. To me the coffee lacks the depth of flavor so enjoyed with the fresh roast. Now after reading your story, I wonder if my water is hot enough, or is my filter too — filtered? Or not enough?
I’m a Yankee, cream and sweetener hides aa lot of flaws, I guess.
I get the regular decaf kirkland ground coffee in the can and am very happy with it, and the price. Not a coffee snob, but I’ve tried other cheaper alternatives including walmart brand that I did not like at all.
I am also a coffee snob, and on a debt-paydown spree (if that’s not a total oxymoron). Here in China, back in 2014, when I moved here the first time, they hadn’t discovered coffee yet except for Starbucks (whose roast I dislike, even as a former barista).
I left for a few years and just returned in August of this year (2018), and I’m overjoyed to find they have coffeehouses everywhere now and coffee for sale on the shelves and online. In the stores, it’s ridiculously pricey. I always bring my preferred blend along(Target’s organic fair trade kind, which goes for $5-6 back in Florida), but only a few bags, since it doesn’t stay good forever. I found some decent beans online that were only 60 yuan (about $9 for 1 kg, or more than two pounds).
I also got into a bourbon-barrel-aged coffee at $30 a pop before embarking on my debt paydown plan.
My solution is to mix the great stuff with the meh stuff, and it helps a LOT. I’ll actually catch flavor notes of them all, and it’s great.
Random: I brought my burr grinder with me, although it died shortly after I arrived. Thankfully, Taobao is an amazing bastion of cheap finds–many of which are high-quality if you know how to look.
It’s like eBay and Amazon combined, and one of the things I had to surrender as I began my new chapter. But I’ll use it for groceries I can’t get at the local, pricey stores.