Is it worth investing in a home espresso machine?

Given how much Australians love their coffee, you’re not the only one. The Australian coffee market was worth more than $8 billion in 2018. Most Australians drink at least one cup of coffee every week.

While buying your flat white at a local café has many perks, it can also be an expensive habit. A good home espresso machine is an attractive option for those who are trying to save money and/or work from home.

Here are some key considerations to make when you decide if your home-based barista business will succeed.

1. How much does it cost?

A cup of coffee can cost as little as $4 in a cafe and as high as $5 in certain areas (both metro and regional – many cafes charge a lot more than the big coffee shops). This means you could spend upwards of $1500 per year for just one cup of cafe coffee per day.

This number can go up if you sneak in an extra cup of coffee or a muffin.

Would it be more beneficial to take that money and invest it in your coffee machine? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

The machine’s cost

We review many coffee machines at CHOICE – automated, semiautomatic, manual, and pod. Their prices range from $37 to $3999.

Pod and capsule coffee machines are generally cheaper than manual espresso machines. You can get a basic unit for as low as $100, or spend up to $699.

Our expert taste testers are unanimous in their belief that if you care about the flavor of your espresso, a manual machine will give you the best results. Because you have the greatest control over the brewing process.

They are more expensive to purchase (from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand), but a good machine will last about eight years.

Remember that the price of a model is not always indicative of its performance. In our tests, many cheaper models performed better than more expensive models. Check out our coffee maker reviews to find out if you can get a good deal on a model.

Based on the responses of CHOICE members we also assign each machine a brand reliability score and satisfaction score. This allows you to assess how brands have performed over time.

Cost of coffee: Ground vs. pods

Also, you need to consider the cost of capsules or pods if your pod or capsule machine is manual or automated. Here is where your cash expenditure will be highly variable.

You can buy ground coffee at a supermarket for $12 per kilogram. However, coffee aficionados will tell you that barista beans will yield the best results, which can cost up to $50 per kilogram.

A kilogram of beans will give you 120 to 140 single shots depending on how large your grind is. 60 to 70 double shots should be possible based on eight grams of single shots and 16 double shots.

Although you might spend less initially on a pod or capsule coffee maker, they can end up being much more expensive over time.

A more expensive machine, such as a manual machine, will cost you $150 per year for eight years. Your at-home espresso machine will still be less expensive than your daily coffee habit in a cafe. It is important to allow for maintenance and parts replacements.

Calculating the difference between buying a coffee and making a cup of it:

Below is a comparison of coffee costs over a year. We used manual espresso machines as they produce the best barista-like results. You should keep in mind that your preferences for equipment, a brand of coffee, and how much milk you use will affect the cost. This guide is only a guide. Read more – CromwellCoffeeHouse.co.uk

2. The environmental cost

If you don’t use a BYO coffee cup when you visit a cafe, you are contributing to the 1 billion cups of take-out coffee that Australia sends to landfill each year. Each cup can take thousands of years to decay.

You’ll be more likely to make a cup of coffee at home, so you might use a mug. It’s worth saving at least 365 cups each year by not using it every day. The grounds can be used in compost, but you should mix it with organic garden waste first.

A pod machine can make it more difficult to dispose of your waste. Although they are convenient, the pods cannot be placed in the council’s recycling bins because of their small size.

You can also take them or post them to designated collection points (as Nespresso suggests), but this depends on the drinker’s dedication and time. This ABC news report shows that 71% of Nespresso’s pods are not currently being recycled.

There are a variety of refillable and compostable pods that can be used to reduce single-use waste.

3. Convenience

You might think that ordering take-out coffee is the best convenient. There’s no need to grind beans at home, learn how to make them, or clean a machine. A smiling barista will happily do it all for you.

Cafe coffee has another advantage: you can share your experience with a friend, colleague, or coworker. The morning ritual of walking to get your flat white can be a highlight of your daily routine.

Others argue that it is much easier to walk to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee than to wear proper clothes. It’s also easier to grab a cup of coffee if you work from home than it is to go out between phone calls or video chats.

4. Your skill level

The ‘home vs. cafe’ comparison depends heavily on your ability to make coffee that is as good or better than a purchased one. Chantelle Dart, CHOICE’s coffee machine expert, says it is important to choose a machine that matches your skills and how often you will use it.

Chantalle says that while some people will spend thousands to buy a coffee maker, it doesn’t make much sense if you don’t know how to use it or don’t use it enough.

It doesn’t matter what machine you purchase, it is worth learning how to properly use it. This includes everything from choosing the right coffee grinder and high-quality coffee, to correctly tamping the coffee, to milk frothing, and getting the perfect cup. There are many great tutorials on the internet about coffee.

The reason baristas charge $4-5 per cup is that they are (usually) highly trained and use the finest beans. You might find yourself returning to the cafe with a coffee machine that is no longer in use.

Chantelle states that “Our tests have shown that the type and brand of coffee machine you use do make a difference.” Blind taste tests have shown that even the same coffee can produce surprising results.

“Ease-of-use and the skill of the person using it have an impact, especially when it comes to semiautomatic or manual espresso machines. As you have a lot more control over the process, the results will depend on how skilled the person using it.

We review coffee machines to assess their ease of use, performance on tasks like frothing milk, achieving consistent temperature, and the final coffee taste.

5. You can experiment with your coffee and create the perfect cup of coffee.

You don’t have to buy coffee from a cafe. Also, you can make your coffee at home.

It’s possible to avoid the awkward situation where your favorite barista isn’t available and another person makes a poor coffee.

Is it possible to use pre-ground coffee in an espresso maker?

Chantelle states, “Yes, but you will get the best results from coffee that has been ground specifically for espresso machines, either by you or from a barista, rather than a pre-ground coffee purchased from the supermarket.”

She says that fresh ground beans can be used to make coffee in an automatic, semiautomatic, or manual machine. This will give you a coffee with a similar flavor and quality as a café-brewed coffee.

The grinder you use will also make a big difference. This gives you greater control and consistency in your grind.

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