Can buying a coffee machine save you money?
The simple answer is yes! Buying a coffee machine for home use is definitely worth it. Learning how to use it is easier than you think. I find making coffee a proud, satisfying and an addictive challenge. Of course, there are great reasons for going out for a coffee. Trying new cafes, tasting different coffee beans and meeting friends is delicious and fun. To save some money though, why not invite your friends over to impress them with a coffee you have made?
I’ll break the cost down and give three personal examples to show you how economical it is to buy a machine.
My first home coffee machine was a Sunbeam EM4800 for $369 in 2004. At the time a coffee out was $3.00, I would usually buy two coffees for both myself and my wife. So that’s four coffees at $3.00 each, total $12.00 for the day. Using those figures ($369 divided by $12 equals 30.75). The machine would pay for itself in 31 days (if you were going out and paying for four coffees every day) or 31 café visits. If you add the cost of coffee beans and milk it would be approximately 35 days/visits to pay the machine off. A similar machine available now is the Capresso Cafe Pro.
This machine allowed me to learn how to make a good coffee, both espresso and texturing milk. I did a descale on the machine every year and replaced the group head seal at the same time. There were no other problems with the machine until it died in 2010. The thermoblock heater core wouldn’t heat the water needed to make an espresso. The machine lasted six years and paid for itself after 141 single coffees. If you had one coffee per day it would pay for itself in four months, I usually have more than one coffee a day.
Why Upgrading Your Coffee Machine Is Worth The Investment
My second home coffee machine buy was an upgrade. After a lot of research, I decided to purchase the Breville Dual Boiler BES900. The main features, which made me buy this machine include:
• PID control
• Commercial size group head and coffee baskets
• Programable shot volume buttons.
• Shot clock
• Dual stainless-steel boilers.
The dual boilers allow me to make a coffee and texture milk at the same time. The machine was on special for $1290 in 2010. A coffee out at the time was $3.50 and I’d still buy two coffees for the two of us. So that is four coffees at $3.50 each, total $14.00 for the day. Using those figures again ($1299 divided by $14 equals 92.78). The machine would pay for itself in 93 days (if you were going out and paying for four coffees every day) or 93 café visits. Adding the cost of coffee beans and milk it would be approximately 104 days/visits to pay the machine off.
This new coffee machine makes a much better coffee than the old cheaper machine. Most of the time the Breville makes a better coffee than a lot of cafes. I’ve also up leveled my coffee making skills.
There are 3 key areas where I found the BES900 to be more sensitive:
• Grind consistency (variation in size of the grind). I found that with an inconsistent grind I was getting some channelling in the tamped coffee. This means the water is finding a path through the coffee grounds like a river. This produces a weaker coffee. Because the ground coffee does not receive even pressure to extract all the coffee oils. A good metal burr grinder overcame this problem.
• Grind settings (course – fine grind) affect the shot quality more. Having a coffee grinder with fine adjustments overcomes this problem.
• Tamp pressure is key to producing a more consistent extraction. A pressure set coffee tamper is a good tool to have.
By keeping these three key elements consistent, the machine makes an outstanding coffee.
Now I find myself not going out for a coffee as often as I used to. The Breville BES900 is my current machine and is still producing a great coffee. It has had a few scheduled services with nothing major to repair or replace. Only a descale and replacement of some seals. Not bad for an eight-year-old machine that’s still running like a dream. It paid for itself after 421 single coffees. If you only had one coffee per day it would pay for itself in one year and two months. I still have more than one coffee a day.
How To Save $$$ on Coffee When Travelling Long Term
The third coffee machine I bought was a travel coffee machine. We decided to move to Bangkok for eight months so it made financial sense. Based on previous coffee machine purchases. After a fair bit of research I decided to buy the Deloghi Dedica for $390 in 2015 in Bangkok. The size and weight of the machine was small enough to fit in my suitcase. It took up half of the space in my suitcase and about half of the weight. At the time a coffee out was $4.00, I would usually buy two coffees for both myself and my wife. So that’s four coffees at $4.00 each, total $16.00 for the day. Using those figures alone ($390 divided by $16 equals 24.35). The machine would pay for itself in 25 days (if you were going out and paying for four coffees every day) or 25 café visits. If you add the cost of coffee beans and milk it would be approximately 30 days/visits to pay the machine off.
This machine makes a very good coffee, both espresso and texturing milk. Texturing the milk with this machine did take a little getting used too. I got better results by removing the little milk collar and only using the silicone tip on the end of the steam arm.
Great features of this compact coffee machine are:
• PID control
• Adjustable shot volume buttons
• Descale alert
• Descaling function built in.
The only maintenance I did while I had the machine was a descale when the machine alert came up.
We had friends staying in the same apartment complex while we were there. They’d come over for a coffee a few times a week. This made the purchase of the machine worthwhile and much better value. If you had one coffee per day it would pay for itself in 125 single coffees or four months. With our friends close by sometimes I would pump out 8 or 10 coffees in one morning. I worked out that it paid for itself in 28 days with the amount of coffees we were having over that time. I ended up selling the machine before we left Thailand because it had a Thai plug and voltage. I sold it for half the cost to another expat who wanted one for the same reason. This made owning it a bargain for getting our daily caffeine fix.
No! You Don’t Need To Be A Barista
For anyone thinking that you need to be a Barista to have an espresso machine at home. I am not a barista, nor have I done any coffee courses or training. I am self-taught from many different resources. Reading books/magazines, forums, blog posts and watching YouTube. I talk to and watch baristas and coffee roasters to get tips when I can. There’s also been a whole lot of trial and error. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, work out what was wrong and change what you need to and practice again. If I can do it, you can too.
Other helpful articles – Facts about whole beans vs pre-ground coffee and How drinking coffee can benefit your health