It’s no secret that one of the foundational pillars of college is crippling caffeine consumption. With Starbucks, Dunkin’, and independent coffee shops dotting college campuses across the country, it’s easy to find your fix no matter where you are. However, those cups can add up, and for students, saving money is key. The solution? Nespresso.

While it may be a sizable initial investment — the Essenza Mini, the company’s least expensive model, retails for $179 — it’s a great option for saving money in the long run. While a doppio, or double shot of espresso, from Starbucks would cost $2.95, a single Nespresso pod would be able to make the amount of espresso for only 80 cents. For a year of Starbucks doppios, it would cost $1,076.75; for the Nespresso, machine included, it would only cost $471. That’s a sizable chunk of change.

Nespresso Essenza Mini, $179

Photo Via Nespresso

How to make barista-quality coffee at home:

But for many, there is a fear that making coffee at home simply won’t taste as good. But with the right tools and products, that won’t be the case. It all starts with the coffee itself, and Nespresso has plenty of options to choose from, offering a slew of espresso pods. 

The Barista Collection contains pods like the Freddo Intenso, meant specifically for brewing iced lattes, a favorite of the college community. But don’t just take it from Nespresso themselves — Eesha Dave, a coffee influencer on TikTok known as @foodieeshh, offered her own recommendations for Nespresso products, as well as additional tools to up your at-home coffee game.

Pod-wise, Dave recommends the Voltesso, Double Espresso Dolce, and Bianco Doppio pods for recreating lattes of all sizes. The sweet and biscuity tones of these pods are perfect for recreating flavored drinks and provide a light, balanced roast to serve as the base of any coffee creations. Dave also offered another pod-related hack to get Starbucks-level drinks at home. “At Target, you can also get the Starbucks Blonde Roast pods, which are compatible machines,” she said, noting that all pods can be ordered online for college students in a time crunch.

Nespresso Freddo Intenso Capsules, $40

Photo Via Amazon

For those who like their coffee stronger, the Firenze Arpeggio, Napoli, and Ristretto Italiano pods are the way to go. These dark and creamy roasts are perfect for a heftier cup and are great for those who need a more intense pick-me-up to get through a day of lectures and recitations.

How to upgrade your coffee:

But it isn’t just the coffee itself that makes the Nespresso coffee shop quality. Dave recommends both syrups and milks to enhance your daily brew. Paired with the pods, Dave uses syrups from Torani and Monin to craft her creations. Monin has a Coffee Flavor Collection for just $12 with flavors like caramel, vanilla, amaretto, hazelnut, and irish cream. For milk, she opts for the Chobani Extra Creamy Oat Milk and the Chobani Sweet Cream Creamer, calling it a “dupe for the Sweet Cream at Starbucks.”

One of Dave’s favorite recreations using these products is the Starbucks Caramel Macchiato. “All you need is caramel sauce and vanilla syrup. You can make it taste the same exact way every time,” Dave said. You can also try recreating the Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso using the Monin Spiced Brown Sugar Syrup and Chobani Oat Milk.

Monin Coffee Flavor Collection, $12

Photo Via Monin

Tools you need to make Starbucks-quality coffee at home

None of these drinks are possible without the right tools. Perhaps one of the best tools to invest in is a handheld frother, such as the IKEA PRODUKT Milk Frother, which retails for just $2.99. This frother can help to froth milk into latte-quality foam, making homemade drinks feel more professional. Additionally, it’s important to take care of the machine to ensure the best, freshest-tasting coffee brews. On Amazon, you can find a combination espresso machine cleaning and descaling kit for only $14.99.

IKEA PRODUKT Milk Frother (3 Pack), $13.99

Photo Via Amazon

The Nespresso may be a great investment for those who want customizable coffees at low prices, but for Dave, and for many who need coffee in a pinch, the Nespresso truly is all about convenience. “You don’t have to wait in line at Starbucks in between classes, you can just take your coffee on the go. It’s very convenient, which I think as a college student is very necessary,” she said. “Time is already of the essence.”

Whether it be for the convenience, the customization, or the cash saved, the Nespresso is a no-brainer for coffee-loving college students everywhere, and is as much of a lifesaver as the caffeine itself.