Gourmet Coffee for the Budget-Conscious

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Who doesn't like waking up to the freshly brewed aroma of gourmet coffee, or just enjoying a hot cup of joe as an afternoon pick-me-up?

January is Coffee Gourmet International Month, an event "dedicated to introducing coffee lovers everywhere to the pleasures of truly gourmet coffee."

Coffee has come a long way since we were kids waking up to the percolator producing a pot of roasted goodness, and today coffee lovers have the option to customize every step of the process -- roasting and grinding their own beans at home or brewing one of the thousand blends of gourmet coffee either by the pot or by the cup.

We took a look at the best gourmet coffees for budget-conscious drinkers and spoke to some experts to find out how to save on your favorite blend.

Black Mountain Gold Hawaiian Kona Blend
This Kona blend is rich and deep with flavor without being overpowering. Kona typically isn't for the coffee lover who likes a stronger taste, as it is a smoother blend, but this brand is one of the best.

One of the highlights is being able to buy it online for $9.99 for a 12-ounce bag.

Handsome Coffee
Handsome Coffee has one of those American success stories that we all love to read about: It was launched in 2010 from the art district in Los Angeles by Tyler Wells, Chris Owens and Michael Phillips, the 2010 World Barista Champion. The partners first launched a social media campaign to sell their coffee, but plan to open a coffee bar in Los Angeles this year. Their blends range from $17 to $21 for 12-ounce to 1-pound packages.

Wild Harvest Organic
In the past, when coffee lovers saw the terms "Fair Trade" and "organic" attached to a coffee, they knew they would be paying extra for those designations. But fair trade and organic coffees have come down in price in recent years, so companies such as Wild Harvest can offer them widely at a "fair" price.

The company offers a Viennese house blend, French dark roast and a breakfast blend, which is a nice wake-me-up in the morning. The suggested retail price of $6.59 for a 10-ounce package can be found through some larger retailers, as well as independent retailers throughout the country.

Gevalia
For coffee lovers who like the darker, richer flavor of European coffees, Gevalia offers taste and value. According to a company representative, this 150-year-old company is one of the official coffees of the Swedish Royal Court and is beloved by Swedes, a leading coffee-consuming people.

Gevalia has many different blends and recently came out with a chocolate raspberry blend for Valentine's Day. Suggested retail prices start at $8.99 per 8-ounce bag.

Seattle's Best Coffee
Ask Seattle residents for their favorite coffee and it will probably not be the other Seattle-based coffee company that starts with an "S" and now owns Seattle's Best. Once a locally owned little gourmet coffee bar, Seattle's Best was acquired by Starbucks ( SBUX) and now sells its products nationwide in grocery stores. You can still get the gourmet coffee from a barista, but taking it home is almost as fun. The price range varies, depending on where you buy.

Coffee-buying tips
Now that you have some brands to look for, there are a few buying tips that everyone can follow to get a good deal on the gourmet blends. Our experts gave us some good tips on saving on your favorite gourmet cup of Joe. Here are five that stand out.

Keep your eyes open
Paul Rice, president and CEO of Fair Trade USA, says to look in the most unexpected places, even for blends and brands you may think are hard to find.

"You can find Fair Trade coffee at discount stores like Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's and Bed Bath & Beyond," Rice says. "It's not just sold at high-end stores and cafes anymore."

Click and buy
Rice says you can buy your favorite blends, often at a discount, while still in your PJ's and sipping a good cup of coffee. Many retailers sell online, and there are often discounts to be found there.

"Many roasters like Green Mountain Coffee ( GMCR), ROASTe and Ground for Change offer deep discounts if you sign up for a coffee subscription or recurring order," Rice says.

Roast your own
If you're really serious about your coffee, you can find a company that sells beans and roast your own using just a popcorn popper, says coffee lover Wendy Peck, a resident of Winnipeg in Canada. Peck says it's been a hobby of hers for four years.

"I have become well-known for serving the best and most interesting coffee my friends have ever had," says Peck, who adds that she saves a lot of money by roasting her own beans.

Qualify for a discount
"Some organizations such as law enforcement, volunteers and nonprofits receive perks/discounts as members on items such as coffee," says Cleo Clarke, owner of The Java House Café in Middletown, Del. "And if not, you may want to suggest this marketing idea to your local coffee shop owner."

Ditch the one-cupper
"Many people use the one-cup coffee makers that require expensive individually packaged coffee. Purchase a reusable container designed especially for these brewers to save a bundle," says Camille Gaines, founder and CEO of FinancialWoman.com. "They are also healthier and greener."

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