Wake up, grab a cup of coffee and head out the door. That’s the routine that about 80% of Americans rely on every day. But depending on how you’re getting your morning pick-me-up, you could be throwing your money down the drain.


The average American shells out around $1,100 on coffee every year. We’re not suggesting you skip your daily Starbucks run. But there are ways to be conscious of how you consume it, which can be good for the earth and your budget.

Waste of money: Single cup brewers

In 2003, the Keurig single pod machines were introduced to offices around the country. The ease and convenience of getting a perfect cup created a craze for single-cup brewers.

Once you popped, it was hard to stop. And US sales of these single-brew pod machines multiplied six times in six years, from 1.8 million units in 2008, to 11.6 million in 2013, according to research firm Euromonitor. But there’s a hefty price to pay — one of these popular Keurig machines retail at around $100. A highly rated auto-drip coffee-maker, on the other hand, can easily cost you less than half of that.

And get this: even the man who invented Keurig single-pods, John Sylvan, said he doesn’t own a Keurig machine because they’re “kind of expensive to use.”

Waste of Money: K-cups

Once you’ve invested in a single-brew machine, it’s likely you have one that requires pods, a.k.a. Keurig cups. These K-cups are three times the price of regular ground coffee at about $30 a pound.

What’s worse is that these plastic pods create so much unrecyclable waste. An Atlantic article published last year quoted Sylvan saying the plastic composite combined with the foil top makes it extremely difficult to recycle. And according to Murray Carpenter in his book “Caffeinated,”  discarded K-cups in 2013 would have encircled the globe more than 10 times.

Waste of money: Cold brew by the cup

Coffee connoisseurs are consuming a lot more cold brew these days. Not to be confused with iced coffee, there is no real brewing with cold brew. Instead of using heat and hot water, you’re soaking the coffee grinds in room-temperature water for long periods of time.

Enjoyed for its smooth taste, it can cost twice the amount of a regular hot coffee. If you’re into the trend, one way to save is to make your own. Consider buying a cold brew maker for around $20 – and you’ll be drinking your favorite coffee for around $1 per cup.

Waste of money: Sipping coffee from a paper cup

You care about your environment, right? Well, then you’ll probably want to stop using paper cups to drink down that cup of coffee when you’re at home. Over 25 billion paper cups are tossed away every year from drinking coffee — that’s over 9.4 billion trees. So get out that sponge, wash your mug and save the planet. Your wallet will thank you and so will the environment.