Food & Nutrition, Getting Started

Breakfast of FI Champions – Part 1: The Coffee

The fuel for my morning commute

This is my first post in a series: Breakfast of (aspiring) FI Champions: Making smarter choices with your coffee consumption can improve both your wallet and health.

Welcome to the Breakfast of FI Champions series, and to kick things off, coffee is deservedly the foundation of this discussion around breakfast choices. I need my coffee to get going in the morning, like many of us do, and specifically I prefer iced coffee; and yes, I generally prefer it even through the frigid temperatures of winter.

There was a time years ago when I would try to regularly stop in at Dunkin Donuts a mile or so from my office and order myself a large iced coffee, and if I was feeling extra extravagant, an old-fashioned donut to boot. As time went on, I slowly came to the realization it was no good for me or my wallet and this couldn’t continue.

In recent years I have developed a taste of cold brewed coffee. There is something about it that seems to reduce the bitterness of the coffee, and as a result I can happily drink it straight without any sweeteners or dairy. I captured this image in our local Walmart today and this is by far the tastiest brand of packaged Cold Brew Coffee that I have ever tasted: StŌk. I would highly recommend trying it as a special treat, my personal favorite is the green labeled un-sweet flavor. There is just something about how smooth and tasty it is without any flavoring agents or anything. However, at the end of the day its just too cost prohibitive for everyday consumption.

Stok Cold Brew was less expensive than my Dunkin Donuts habit,
but I needed to bring my daily coffee costs down even further

Even though $4.42 per bottle would get me ~3 servings and that was roughly what I was paying for a single Dunkin Donuts coffee, it still wasn’t entirely satisfying; there had to be more I could do to optimize my coffee drinking while supporting a more economical approach.

Then came my own cold brew kit from Amazon with a metal filter and enormous glass mason jar. At this point, I’m buying 45-ounce bags of Dunkin Donuts coffee at Costco, and brewing up two jars worth per week; I find that I get about three large coffee servings out of each jar, so I need the second one to safely get me through the week.

The bag of coffee ordinarily costs $17.49 for 45 ounces, and I generally use 12 tablespoons per jar that I’m brewing up, which the internet tells me is ~2 ounces of coffee, so this works out to about $0.78 / jar of cold brewed coffee, or about 26 cents per morning serving (assigning zero cost to my water and ice) 😉

Preparation and Process

I tend to brew it up on a Sunday evening, and Monday morning I’ll pull the filter out and dispose of the coffee grinds, top up the jars with water, and I’m ready to roll for another week.

I also really enjoy my tall 24 ounce vacuum sealed Contigo travel mug during my one hour plus commute. It has an amazing ability to keep the coffee cold; there are often days where I still have ice cubes rock solid at the bottom of the mug after sitting there all day long. The push button auto-seal function also does a great job of keeping me from spilling it on myself as I drive along.

I could always find less expensive brands of coffee, but at 26 cents a serving I’m feel pretty good about my morning cup of Joe being pretty economical and helping me get to FI a little faster. I also have to be reaping some health benefits by cutting out the dairy, sweetener, and occasional donuts that were consumed in my earlier morning routine from a few years ago.

What does your Breakfast of FI Champions look like from a coffee or morning beverage perspective? How are you handling coffee consumption to better align with you goals of becoming FI?