Where You Should Buy Coffee If You Want To Save $100 Extra Per Year

If you opt to go to Dunkin' over Starbucks to purchase your morning cup o' Joe you will save approximately $100 per year.

By Kari Apted | Published

It’s a common ritual to grab a cup of joe from a coffee chain on the way to work or school. But as inflation drives the cost of coffee higher, many of us are looking to save a few bucks on our morning buzz. Starbucks has long been considered the most expensive coffee chain, but how does it really compare to Dunkin’ and Caribou, the other two dominant coffee franchises in America?

The folks at CNET did the math for us, but the results may not matter much to those who have a strong allegiance to a certain brand. Many people claim to get a better kick from Starbucks’ brews, while others think their coffee is too bold and bitter. Some say that Dunkin’s coffee is too weak, or the coffee chain doesn’t offer enough creative drink options.

But many people who frequent coffee chains simply choose the one that’s closest to their home or job. They’re not coffee snobs or loyal to any particular brand, deciding where to buy based solely on convenience. Given the cost of gasoline these days, that’s also a valid decision.

Of course, coffee lovers should skip the coffee chain drive-thru entirely if saving the most money is their goal. CNET also did the math on that one, and the savings are rather eye-opening. People who drink ordinary drip coffee can save over $300 per year by making it at home and those who prefer a large caramel macchiato could save over $700 by home-crafting their own.

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It’s noteworthy to mention that Starbucks, Dunkin’ and Caribou all sell their roasted coffee beans at grocery stores across the nation and online. The flavored coffee creamer section continues to expand, offering dozens of flavors of dairy-based creamers and multiple types of plant-based milk. It’s easier than ever before to craft really good coffee beverages at home and skip the coffee chain entirely.

But the coffee chain experience may be worth the extra expense. It’s nice to have a friendly barista do all the work for you. And the heady aroma and ambiance inside a Starbucks or Caribou store is an experience all in itself that isn’t really available at most grab-and-go Dunkin’ locations.

So which coffee chain is the most affordable? CNET chose a variety of comparable hot, iced, and frozen coffee beverages from all three chains and created a chart showing the costs. Overall, Dunkin’ is cheaper than Caribou or Starbucks.

On average, a coffee lover can save $100 per year by switching from Starbucks to Dunkin’. Switching from Caribou to Dunkin’ will put $75 back into the bank. However, if you drink cold brew iced coffee year-round, Caribou comes out on top for the least expensive coffee chain.

If large frozen coffee is your buzz of choice, you’ll actually save a little more each year by going to Starbucks. Their medium and large Frappuccinos are less expensive than comparable drinks at Dunkin’ and Caribou. But if you like to mix it up by drinking different beverages each day, your best chance for overall savings is to dunk inside a Dunkin’.