Starbucks is one of the most ubiquitous brands at Boston University. They have a huge range of products, tons of locations across campus, and the coffee is solid. The biggest issue with Starbucks is the price. Buying a $4.15 venti caffe latte or even a venti hot coffee at $2.45 every day can add up quickly. You could easily wind up paying over $100 a month for coffee. Even with dining points, that is probably not worth it. The dining hall coffee usually isn’t a solution to this problem, and most students who live in dorms are prohibited from having a coffee machine at all.
So with only a microwave to heat water, how can you make great coffee in your dorm?
The simplest answer would be the pour-over cone. Arguable the simplest way to make coffee, all that is needed is a pour-over cone, a filter and coffee grounds. As shown below, all you need to do is fill the filter with coffee, boil water in the microwave, and pour it over the grounds slowly. This method often yields an amazing cup of coffee. While this brewing method means espresso-based drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, etc. are out of the picture, you can always buy those occasionally.
Of course, it’s not that simple. There is an entire science behind perfecting this style of coffee, and you could spend a ton of money doing it, but you don’t have to. There are guides all across the internet explaining the precise ins-and-outs of brewing coffee this way, but few of them consider coffee-brewers on a budget.
You can easily acquire an inexpensive pour-over cone for $15 or less on Amazon or Target. Standard cone coffee filters will do, and you can pick up a pack of 100 for under four dollars. The only cost left to consider is that of the coffee itself. The best part of brewing in your dorm is the wide variety of coffees that you’ll be able to try. The least expensive options would be pre-ground coffees from any grocery store. Whatever your favorite brand is, expect to pay between eight and twelve dollars. You could even buy Starbucks beans and brew their coffee at home. At that point, you’ve spent about $20 for a month of coffee or more. Much better than over $100 a month.
The real interesting part of pour-over brewing is experimenting with unique beans from local roasters. Boston is full of incredibly creative and respected coffee roasters that offer unique cups. Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, George Howell and Gracenote all offer a wide variety of beans for you to take home and try. They’ll even be happy to offer brewing advice (if you ask nicely). There’s a whole world of specialty coffee roasting and brewing that’s emerged in recent years, and pour-over brewing just scratches the surface. It can definitely feel like a bit much when people start treating coffee drinking like wine tasting, or spending hundreds of dollars on specialty brewers and grinders. Nevertheless, it can be fun to explore that world if you take it at your own pace, and you’ll probably save money compared to going to Starbucks every day no matter what.