Cheapest Way To Make Coffee (Least Expensive Ways To Brew)

By Shabbir
Last update:

Making good coffee is not necessarily an expensive endeavor. You can make good coffee for cheap, too. In this post, we’re going to look at our 4 favorites for the cheapest way to make coffee (not just coffee, but good coffee) at home.

cup of coffee on a table

The key to make good coffee(it’s not money)

We’ve talked about this in great detail in many posts, but it’s worth repeating here again.

Good coffee comes down to a few key factors, after which the actual brewing method is icing on the cake. Sure, some methods will brew bolder cups whilst others will be milder, but the overall taste and feel of the coffee depends on the following:

Freshly ground coffee: The first essential of good coffee is to brew from freshly roasted beans that have been freshly ground. Coffee beans retain their optimal flavors for only 10-15 days, so to get the most punch out of your coffee, order fresh coffee beans every time and keep a supply on hand. Once you grind the beans, you’ve got a few hours at most to use them before they lose their punch.

Using the correct grind size: You need to make sure you’re using the correct grind size for the coffee brewing method you’re using. Each brewing method is suited to a particular sized grind. If your grounds are too coarse, you’ll have an under-extracted cup, and if they’re too fine, your cup will be gritty. Espresso needs a fine grind, drip and pour over need a medium grind, french press needs a medium-coarse grind, and cold brew needs a very coarse grind.

Proper water temperature: The best temperature to brew coffee at is around 90 to 95 degrees Celcius. Anything less and you’ll have under-extracted coffee, and anything more and you’ll burn the coffee.

If you’re making coffee on a tight budget, spend more money on getting fresh coffee and less money on fancy equipment. This way, you’ll at least have fresh coffee every day and eventually you can save up for a bigger/more complex coffee machine.

Although I’ve stated above that you should buy freshly roasted beans and grind right before brewing, if you’re on a really tight budget and don’t want to get a grinder(though cheap grinders are as little as $10-15, but you’re the master of your own budget), you can order ground coffee too.

Just get it from a craft roaster so you know the coffee was roasted very recently and ground just before being shipped out to you.

Supermarket coffees have been roasted and ground who-knows who long ago, so you’re just not going to be able to experience the same kind of cup.

4 Cheapest ways to make coffee at home

1. Use an inexpensive drip machine

One of the cheapest ways to make good coffee at home is to use an inexpensive drip machine. Simple drip machines cost as little as $20-30 and they’re a full solution: you don’t even need anything extra to heat water.

All you need are paper filters, and if you wash and dry the filters right away, you could probably use each filter a few times to save a bit more. Inexpensive drip machines are great to start out with.

You can also use reusable filters that you just rinse out or wash after every use. These are great options for when you want to reduce your environmental footprint.

In fact, I remember from when I was growing up that a company called Gevalia Kaffe would send free coffee machines with their coffee grounds if you signed up to a subscription!

The point is, drip coffee machines are cheap, and a cup of coffee from a dripper tastes amazing as long as you’re using fresh beans.

2. Use the pour over method

Another really good method for a cheap cup of good coffee is the pour over method. Pour over coffee is similar to drip coffee, except you have to manually pour the water over the coffee grounds. This is different from a dripper that takes care of the water for you.

Pour over coffee tastes amazing, but requires a bit of practice to master. Good pour over coffee depends on the pouring technique. The short version of it is that you need to pour very slowly and in a spiral motion working from the outside in. Then you let gravity do its thing.

You’ll still need a paper filter, and you’ll also need a hot water kettle, too. It’s OK if you don’t have an electric kettle, though, as you can always heat the water on the stove. Try to use a kettle that has a narrow mouth or spout. It will make a huge difference in your pouring technique.

Pour over funnels are super inexpensive and very portable, too.

To get the temperature you want, let it sit uncovered after boiling and removing from the heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

3. Use an Aeropress

The AeroPress is one of the most amazing coffee inventions that I’ve ever come across. It is such a simple device (and cheap, too), but it makes some of the most spectacular coffee you’ll ever taste.

It’s also very versatile: you can use it to pull something that is very close to a proper espresso shot, or you can also brew an old fashioned Americano black coffee too, or even a cold brew.

The coffee geeks at the World Aeropress Championship have come up with some amazing Aeropress recipes which you can try, too.

Additionally, the Aeropress is really easy to clean and maintain. You do need a paper filter for brewing, but you can just wash and dry the filter to reuse a few times.

Even though the Aeropress is one of the more expensive devices on this list, the sheer versatility it brings you is just amazing. For less than $40, you can brew a whole variety of beverages that you would otherwise require multiple devices to brew.

Do they come out exactly the same as they would from dedicated brewers? Not exactly, but if you’re on a budget and you don’t mind a tiny bit of compromise, there’s nothing to lose.

Remember, the beans make the cup, not the machine.

4. Use a french press

As far as inexpensive brewing gadgets go, the french press certainly makes the list. French presses come in many sizes and shapes(and price ranges) but a decent french press will be no more than $20-30.

French press coffee is an all time favorite for pretty much all coffee lovers. Depending on how big your french press is, you can brew up to 4 or 5 cups of coffee in a single go.

A cup of coffee made with a french press tends to be very bold and flavorful. That’s why medium and dark roasts pair so well with the french press. The immersion brewing method really brings out the deep flavors.

For a more detailed brewing guide, check out this post.

I usually teetotter between the french press and Aeropress for my morning coffee.

5. Make coffee without a coffee maker

Finally, if you are not planning on picking up any of these things, you can just make a good cup of coffee without a coffee maker. I’ve gone over 5 or 6 methods for making coffee without a coffee maker in this post here.

Add-ons for when budget permits

Since we’re on a tight budget here, we’re not recommending that you get other coffee brewing accessories from the onset, but you should consider them once you have a bit of a budget and are willing to up your game.

These add-ons will make a huge difference. Best of all, each one is not that expensive by itself, either.

A grinder

Since great coffee is brewed when it is freshly ground from freshly roasted beans you want to have a grinder on hand to grind beans into coffee grounds.

Grinders come in all shapes and sizes. As a rule, you want to stick to burr grinders rather than blade grinders, as burr grinders grind coffee beans more evenly.

Automatic grinders can cost an arm and a leg, but manual grinders are cheap. Even though I’ve listed grinders as an add-on, you’d do well to pick up a grinder before you pick up a brewer.

As long as coffee is freshly ground, it will always taste better than machine coffee that has been made with older grounds.

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A scale

Coffee should always be measured by weight rather than volume. Interestingly enough, the amount of time that you roast the beans will make a difference as to the weight to volume ratio of each bean. To get a consistent cup every time, use weight as a measurement.

Remember, you’ll want about 14-15 grams of coffee per cup of drip coffee/french press. That’s two heaped tablespoons if you don’t have a scale on hand.

For water, use a measuring cup and heat up only as much water as you’ll need.

To weigh coffee beans, any old kitchen scale will do, but if you’re willing to get a little fancy, there are also coffee scales available that have extra bells and whistles like a timer.

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A gooseneck kettle

Last but not least, a cool addition to your coffee brewing toolkit is a gooseneck kettle. Regular kettles are fine, too, but gooseneck kettles are much better because they allow a lot more control over the pour. A more controlled pour will result in a much better pour over brew.

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As you can see, brewing a great cup of coffee does not require you to spend a lot of money. As long as you have the three factors under control, brewing great coffee is not a difficult task.

Frequently asked questions

What coffee brewing method is best?

There’s no one size that fits all. For starting out, drip coffee or french press coffee is a safe bet because there is not much of an investment required and both are fairly simple and don’t require much technique to get right.

Can I make just one cup of coffee?

You sure can! I do too, as I am the first one up at home so my first cup in the morning is just a single cup. Measure out the water before you brew so you know exactly how much you’re pouring. Or use a scale to pour water so you’ll know exactly how much you poured out. The best way to make just one cup is to use a small french press or an Aeropress.

Can you drink ground coffee without filtering?

Yes! That’s how coffee was enjoyed in the old days. Just steep coffee grounds in water for 4 minutes, and scoop off the foam at the top once the time is up. The foam will have most of the grounds, and the rest of the residue will settle to the bottom of the cup.

Last update on 2024-05-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shab is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee Brewster. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.