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Student Life

Become Your Own Barista

The best things often come in pairs. Like peanut butter and jelly, or a burger and fries, coffee and college just seem to go together. The caffeinated drink accompanies students from their earliest morning classes to the latest nights at the library.

Although coffee shops are a perfect place to treat yourself to a fancy beverage, college and empty wallets are another (less than perfect) pair. With the average cup of coffee ringing up at $3.28, morning joe can start to add up.

Running low on money doesn’t mean you have to give up coffee. With hundreds of varieties of coffee machines to choose from, all you need to do is make a small investment to save more on coffee over time. With some creativity and practice, you’ll find that it also doesn’t mean you have to give up coffee that tastes like it came from your favorite shop. Use this list to decide what machines best fit your space, budget, and taste for coffee.

For the busy, space-efficient student: Keurig (or other) single-cup brewer

Living with roommates in tight living spaces means all the less room for large kitchen appliances that need constant cleaning. Single-cup brewers are compact enough for kitchens with low counter space, and are easy to clean — no dishwasher, filter or grinder required. These machines are best for people who don’t drink more than one or two cups of coffee each day. They also work as an accessory machine for when you need a quick drink on-the-go, because they’re small enough to store. Keurig brand brewers are priced at anywhere from $60-$200, and generic brands from Wal-Mart and Target fall within a range of $29-$150. To save even more, buy reusable mesh K-cups and your own coffee grounds — they’re environmentally friendly, too.

For the budgeting traditionalist: Multi-cup drip machine

If you drink multiple cups of coffee each day or constantly find yourself waiting for your roommates to finish using the Keurig, a standard multi-cup drip machine is the way to go. Although these machines require more maintenance and additional supplies, like coffee filters, you can split the cost and share with your roommates each morning, saving everyone money. Plus, most machines from companies like Mr. Coffee and Hamilton Beach will brew your coffee automatically in the morning, saving you time and hassle when you need it most. Most machines fall in the price range of $15-$150. Worried your coffee grounds will go bad? Invest in a grinder and buy whole beans to save more and avoid food waste.

For the espresso experimenter: Stovetop espresso maker

Maybe you love coffee shop staples like lattes, cappuccinos, and Americanos, but shudder at the thought of paying $4-$6 for a single drink. These machines require a few extra steps, but are fairly easy to use, even for people who are new to making coffee. The best part of these machines is the rich, dark espresso that saves you money in the long term. The units are also more affordable than the automatic drip coffee makers, ringing in at only about $20-$40. You can even use the money you’re saving on flavor syrups and sweeteners and make your own pumpkin spice lattes all winter long.

For the no-room, no-time coffee drinker: Cold brew coffee maker

If hot coffee just isn’t for you (even in the dead of a snowy Boone winter) or you want a less acidic taste, try a cold brew coffee maker. There’s no waiting for coffee to brew in the morning, just make a pot once and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. Because the coffee is always in the fridge waiting for you, it frees up counter space for other appliances. Most cold brew coffee makers also work with loose leaf tea, so it’s perfect for people who want to switch between hot and cold, or coffee and tea. Because these brewers aren’t machines, but let the coffee steep into the water, they’re fairly affordable. Most brewers fall between $20-$30, and the upper-end selections for die-hards and perfectionists are no more than $50.

Articles written by students, for students

Nora Smith graduated ASU in December 2019 with a degree in Journalism after living with The Winkler Organization for 2 years. She is currently working in Pittsburg, PA. Follow Nora on Instagram.

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