CHEAP CAPPUCCINO CHOICES
Cappuccino emigrated from Italy as a simple and classic drink made of espresso and foamy milk. Today, a "cappuccino" can be sweet and creamy or flavored and fancy (Frappuccino, anyone?). Either way, it has a higher price tag than a basic cup of coffee, but there are some budget-friendly ways to indulge in this tasty drink.
Mimic Starbucks' flavored cappuccino drinks at home for less money -- even without an espresso machine. A food blogger suggests a secret to Starbucks-like taste: Pour sugar in with instant coffee and whip together with a teaspoon of water, then add boiling milk. For folks who like their coffee drinks on the sweet side, this is a budget-friendly method.
INEXPENSIVE ESPRESSO MAKER
A basic espresso maker doesn't have to cost a fortune and could save money for a cappuccino drinker with a regular habit. The De'Longhi EC155 (starting at $80) performs necessities such as frothing milk for a range of cappuccino, mocha, and latte drinks. Reviewers marvel that this pump-driven machine costs so little. Most cheap espresso makers are steam-driven, and aficionados consider a pump essential for authentic coffee-shop taste.
Coffee brand Folgers is a low-budget go-to for "cappuccino." The brand's instant cappuccino mixes (about $4 for 16 ounces) require no special machinery to whip up. Available in flavors such as French vanilla, this is one of the cheapest choices by cup.
SINGLE-CUP CAPPUCCINO MIX
Owners of Keurig machines can try Grove Square single-cup cappuccino mix (starting at about $12 for 24 capsules). Consumers can brew about a dozen cups for the price of one caramel or vanilla cappuccino at a popular coffee chain. Buyers reviewing the product on Amazon compare it to the sweet, creamy flavor of a gas station cappuccino.
DIY CAPPUCCINO MIX
Although most cappuccino mixes are reasonably priced, it might be even cheaper to make a homemade mix posted by coffee importer and roaster Royal Cup: Combine instant coffee, powdered milk, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon, then mix in a bowl or food processor. Store for a ready-to-go cappuccino-inspired drink, or just add hot water to make it on the spot.
STOVETOP ESPRESSO MAKER
Making stovetop espresso is relatively easy and cost effective. Although true espresso is brewed under much higher pressure, this technique brews similarly strong coffee with the thin layer of caramel-colored foam on top called "crema." Simply add some frothy milk to make a traditional cappuccino (the required tool is coming up next). You can pick up a stovetop espresso maker or moka pot for about the cost of four or five store-bought coffee drinks (about $15).
Arguably one of the most important components of any cappuccino is the foamy milk topping. Reviewers say the Matcha DNA handheld electric milk frother ($6.93 on Amazon) churns the milk to the perfect consistency for both lattes and cappuccinos.
CAPPUCCINO IN YOUR CUP
An easy and inexpensive option, the Aerobie AeroPress ($30) makes coffee and espresso right in a cup. Use it every morning in place of a cappuccino run and it will pay for itself in less than two weeks.
CHEAPER COFFEE-SHOP CAPPUCCINO
Starbucks increased the cost of espresso drinks by 10 to 30 cents this month. Prices vary by location, but Dunkin' Donuts consistently beats Starbucks on price when it comes to a basic cappuccino, and the savings add up day by day.
THE SHORT CAPPUCCINO
If you can't fathom giving up Starbucks for a cheaper standby, try this hack: Order a "short" cappuccino, an 8-ounce drink, over a more expensive 12-ounce "tall." The coffee-to-milk ratio is higher, promising a stronger (many would say better) taste at a lower cost.