DIY: Coffee Shop Drinks

As the semester ends or deadlines near, you may find yourself an increasing visitor to the local coffee shop. In your budget-conscious Bougie garb, why not continue the trend and trim down the price of your favorite coffee concoctions? Here are some ways to save money on those  expensive drinks to which we “treat” ourselves more than our wallets would like.  Of course, you can always bring your own cup and save on original and refill prices that way, but let’s pretend this is an impulsive coffee date.

First, to describe the most popular drinks ordered (having had experience at a coffee shop, myself):

Espresso:  A few tablespoons of caffeinated or non-caffeinated, dark brown liquid. Strong and bitter.

Latte: Shot(s) of espresso with steamed milk. Can add flavored syrups (i.e. Vanilla Spice, etc.)

Cappuccino: Shot(s) of espresso with half steamed milk and half foamed milk. Lighter in weight than a latte.

Carmel/Hazelnut Macchiato: A layered drink beginning with vanilla syrup on the bottom, steamed milk, small amount of foam, and an espresso shot through the drink. The only Carmel/Hazelnut part is the drizzled sauce on top of the foam.

Espresso Macchiato: Shot(s) of espresso with milk foam, no steamed milk.

(**Note:  Most researched prices are from Starbucks or Barnes and Noble cafés, but the concept is universal.)


Hot Chocolate

Substitution: Ask for Mocha Syrup with Hot Water instead of the usual Steamed Milk.

Savings: $1.80, assuming a Tall size


London Fog

Substitution: Order an Earl Grey Tea with room for cream and sugar. Then saunter to the condiment bar and add some milk with liberal shakes of complimentary vanilla bean powder.

Savings: $1.00, assuming a Tall size.  (–TIP– Tall and Grande use 1 tea bag but the price differs. To have more room, order a “Tall Tea in a Grande Cup” and you won’t have to sacrifice valuable hot water room for the additions.)


Iced Coffee

Substitution: Order an Espresso over ice and fill the rest of the cup with water. Add milk and sugar to taste.

Savings: $0.30, assuming a Tall iced coffee and a single shot of Espresso.


Iced Teas

Substitution: Ask for the tea without water. The traditional recipe is half water, half tea, but as your ice melts, it will provide enough water to keep you from buying a refill.

Savings: $.50, assuming all sizes.




Hazelnut or Carmel Macchiato

Substitution: Order a regular latte with hazelnut/caramel sauce. Add the vanilla bean powder from the condiment bar yourself, and stir. This doctored latte is bascially an “Upside Down” macchiato which switches the layers of the drink (vanilla syrup, milk, espresso, and sauce)

Savings: $0.30, assuming Tall sizes for both drinks


Cinnamon Dolce Latte

Substitution: Order a regular latte and add vanilla powder and cinnamon, with a touch of honey if desired from the condiment bar.

Savings: $0.50


Iced Regular Latte

Substitution: Order Espresso over ice (See Iced Coffee, above) in a larger size cup than you would normally use. Since you are paying for the espresso shot and not the cup, shimmy to the condiment bar and add milk and sugar with various spices and powders to your now-iced-latte at no extra cost.

Savings: About $1.50, assuming a Tall drink in a Grande cup.


Two Drinks, Tall size

Substitution: Order one Venti size of the shared drink, ask for an extra cup (free), then split the liquid.

Savings: Up to $2.00, depending on drink.