For about $1,700 on average, you can purchase a coffee machine that just about does it all: a regular cup of joe, a cappuccino, a mocha, a latte macchiato, and espresso (and espresso-based drinks like lattes and granitas).
More than a grand seems like a lot to invest in your morning caffeine, but if these magical one-stop automatic coffee and espresso machines can make just about every Starbucks offering besides Frappuccinos, could they be worth the splurge?
Let’s say you bought your morning coffee every day of the year at Starbucks, and for simplicity’s sake, let’s say that coffee was always a tall (12 fl oz). If you just bought plain old coffee, that’d be about $675 a year; if you bought iced coffee, that’d be about $821 a year.
If you’re feeling fancy and decide you want to buy a cappuccino every day (Starbucks no longer lists it on their menu but makes the drink for anyone who orders it), you’d spend about $1,100 per year, based on the prices given when they still had it listed.
If you ordered a caffe mocha each day, you’d spend about $1,300 a year, and if you love to indulge in the fairly new addition, the latte macchiato, you’d be dropping about $1,400 a year on that alone. Finally, for an everyday latte, you’d pay about $1,100 total.
Obviously, most people don’t purchase Starbucks every day, and even if they did, they most likely wouldn’t have the same order every time (no one’s judging you if you actually do). So, let’s take the average annual cost of all these drinks – that’s about $1,100 a year.
Now, let’s estimate the costs of making these drinks at home with the fancy $1,700-on-average machine.
Coffee with half and half
A one-pound bag of coffee beans from Starbucks costs about $13, and they claim that that yields 64 5-oz cups of coffee. So let’s say that’s about 30 “tall” cups, or a month’s worth of coffee.
Now onto the splash of half and half in your coffee. A quart costs about $3 and you use one fluid ounce per day. A quart is 32 fl oz, so the half and half would also last you about a month. For a simple homemade cup of coffee, you’d spend about $200 a year. To make things easier, I rounded.
Starbucks sells an 8.8 oz bag of their iced coffee blend for $7.95. Because the ice takes up space in a tall sized glass, let’s say that this bag would also make 30 servings of iced coffee. Add in the cost of half and half, and that would be about $130 a year for daily iced coffee.
Starbucks’ one pound bag of espresso beans costs $12.95. Cappuccinos are part milk and part espresso, so let’s say a 1-kb bag would yield two months’ worth of drinks. You would typically use about a cup of milk for a cappuccino, and a gallon of milk, on average, costs about $3. There are 16 cups in a gallon, so you would use about two gallons per month. That’s about $150 for a year of cappuccinos.
A mocha is made up of espresso, milk, and chocolate. So let’s roughly estimate that it would also cost about $150, plus the cost of cocoa powder. You would use about a tablespoon each time, and cocoa powder usually comes in 8 oz boxes, so that’s 16 servings to a box. On average, Hershey’s cocoa powder is about $4, so the added cost would be about $96 a year. That’s $246 a year.
A latte Macchiato only uses about a half of a shot of espresso so let’s say you can get 4 months’ worth out of a bag of espresso beans. We’ll overestimate a little and say that you’d also use 2 gallons of milk per month for your daily drink. That comes out to about $110 a year, if you’re not being too generous with the espresso.
Lattes, like cappuccinos, also have about one shot of espresso, so we’ll say again that 1 bag of beans will last you two months. If we use the one cup of milk estimate, your total annual latte cost comes out to $150.
If we take the average of these various drinks, it comes out to about $165 a year. Obviously, my estimates are very rough, so rounding that up to $200 wouldn’t hurt. The higher estimate could also account for the fact that I haven’t factored in additions such as sugar, whipped cream, or chocolate/caramel syrup (which are sometimes very necessary).
$200 a year versus $1,100? Even if the math is a bit off, clearly you’ll save money by making your favorite drinks at home. With the estimated savings of $900 a year, a fancy coffee machine would pay for itself in about two years, on average.
So, yes, from a purely mathematical standpoint, it is worth it to invest in an expensive machine. Now you just have to decide if saving $900 is worth losing 10 precious minutes of sleep.