Life is livable without a great many things, but coffee is not one of them. Despite the fact we live in Portland, we’re pretty flexible on coffee quality. One issue we have trouble with, though, is buying pre-ground coffee that’s been properly ground in a burr grinder versus whole beans that are fresher but un-properly ground in our cheap Mr. Coffee blade grinder.
When buying a single 1-pound bag, properly pre-ground tends to taste better, as blade grinders result in uneven grounds that can be bitter. The problem? One-pound bags of coffee are extremely difficult to find for less than $7 or $8 a pound, and after a couple weeks, larger bags of pre-ground tend to produce cups that taste like cigarette butts steeped in mop water. In order to stay under $6 a pound (we looked into roasting our own beans in a popcorn popper, but we couldn’t find a source of green beans cheaper than $6 a pound), we do have to stock up on whole beans in 2- or 3-pound bags from Costco or Grocery Outlet. To keep them fresh, we divide them up into Ziploc bags and keep the unused portions in the freezer. It’s not Stumptown, but it works all right.
The average* price of the coffee beans we buy is 31.5 cents/oz. We use about 1.5 oz. of coffee per pot, which works out to about 47 cents’ worth of coffee. Our Chemex carafe holds 8 cups, so that’s about 6 cents a cup. Coffee stands in for snacks a lot of the time, so it really does play a large role in keeping us under $35.
*Depending on availability, ranging from a 2 lb. (32 oz.) bag for $8.99, which works out to 28 cents/oz., or a 3 lb. (48 oz.) bag for $16.99, which works out to 35 cents/oz.