How Not to Spend a Fortune on Iced Coffee This Year

Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Lynn Andriani

Among the unmistakable signs that winter is long gone and that people are anxiously counting down the days until summer is the uptick in iced coffee cups I've been seeing people carrying around town. While this means many things--bring on the peach shortcake!--it also means those of us who drink the chilled stuff will be spending a lot more on our morning Joe.

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How is it that the iced version can cost anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar more than the hot stuff? As this recent post on Delish points out, it isn't just the straw that drives the price up (though that does add a few cents). The biggest contributors to the hike are ice (most shops have to rent an ice machine during the season to keep up with demand), cups (those clear plastic ones cost more than paper, which would disintegrate in hot and humid weather), and the coffee itself (the cold-brewing process--which ensures that your icy beverage won't taste watered-down--requires more beans in every cup). And as the post explains with anecdotes from indie coffee shop owners who dread iced coffee season, some businesses don't even make that much money, even though you're paying significantly more.

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There are ways to prevent your habit from eating into your summer vacation fund, though.

1. Bring a reusable travel mug.
Caribou Coffee takes 50 cents off if you bring your own cup, Starbucks discounts 10 cents, and Dunkin' Donuts and Tim Hortons also offer deals if you BYO.

2. Buy it in bulk. Specialty coffee roaster Chameleon Cold-Brew in Austin sells ready-to-drink varieties; so does Grady's Cold Brew in New York City. Both companies ship their coffee.

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3. Make your own. Use a specialized coffeemaker and steep the grounds and cold water overnight to reduce acidity and bitterness. As this iced coffee tutorial explains, it's easier than you might think--and you can even create your own "signature" blend.

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