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FIRE Your Barista!

Must Have Coffee!

When I was in college and medical school, I am quite sure I single handedly kept Starbucks in business. I simply couldn’t study at home or at the library. I was a regular fixture at many coffee shops around town, buying lattes, cappuccinos (or a “flat white” at Starbucks), and french presses galore.

It’s no wonder that I spent all my money and didn’t save a dime.

As you know, my priorities have changed and now I’m aiming for FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). So, I have been focused on saving more and spending less. But if that meant I would have to give up my cappuccino… well then, I knew the whole thing would go up in smoke and I’d just decide to work forever instead. I had to find a hack.

So here’s the deal- Suzie Orman says don’t buy coffee.  Rameet Sethi says go buy the darn coffee. Well, The Frugal Physician says, buy the coffee shop!  Ha… kind of. 

When in Rome..

I used to think the only way to make espresso was to buy one of those humungous, counter-top swallowing contraptions that cost  $500.

Then, I went to Italy.  

No matter if we were in a swanky hotel or a comfortable family villa in Tuscany, every morning started with a cup of cappuccino at breakfast.

I was so impressed!  I couldn’t figure out how they were doing it.  I didn’t hear the loud grind of the cappuccino machine or the swish swishing of the milk foamer, even though I could see the kitchen.  

Finally, I asked the cook in a hotel we were staying at in Rome to watch how he made the cappuccino.  

And this is when I found it- the secret to frugal hacking the cappuccino!

Save Money on Coffee

Ready to make a frugal cup of cappuccino at home?  Ok, here’s what you need. 

First, you need the Bialetti.  The Bialetti (or Moka pot) is a stovetop percolator that makes espresso in minutes.  It’s a pretty genius way to get really flavorful and strong coffee. You put water in the bottom chamber and the espresso grounds go in the MIDDLE of the pot.  The water boils and goes upwards through coffee. It comes out of the spout in the top chamber and collects there.  

The Bialetti- $34.49 for 9 Espresso Cups

Here’s the best part- the 9 cup Bialetti is only $34.49 on Amazon right now!  That sounds a whole lot better than $499.96.   

What about the milk and foam?  Don’t worry, I have a frugal hack for that, too.

All you need is this electric milk frother and warmer.  It’s $32.98.

Secura Milk Frother and Warmer- $32.98

Optional: Cocoa Shaker

For brownie points, you can get one of these cocoa shakers and designs to top your creation off.  

Of course, you’ll need coffee- I suggest Lavanzza.  It’s very frugal and flavorful.

Pack of 4 cans for $22.70

Frugal Cappuccino Recipe

What Your Barista Will Say

There is a reason the industrial espresso machine is so expensive. Your barista may say the bialetti doesn’t have enough pressure to make real espresso. They may think it’s more like very strong coffee. Also, the frother makes larger bubbles in the milk than is considered “perfect” for pouring and making latte art. Sure, this method isn’t perfect. But, it sure does hit the spot on a lazy Sunday morning.

FIRE and Cappuccino

So let’s bring home the savings with some compound interst magic.  Let’s assume we spend $3.50 at the coffee shop every day.  That’s $1,277.50 a year.  Compound that at a 7% annual interest rate over a 35 year working carreer and we get a savings of $188,959.44!  Not bad for an initial investment of $74.25! 

So, there you go.  You have fired your barista, you fabulous frugalista.  

Till next week,


Standard Disclaimer: Not meant as individualized financial or medical advice.  Prices current as of 10/6/2019, but may change.  Use equipment at your own risk.  This article contains affiliate links.            


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