A brief overview of the many unexpected perks of having an at home coffee bar - including, most notably, tens of thousands of dollars! Read on to see what I use in my own set up, how I decided what machines to buy, as well as a detailed analysis on how having a coffee bar saves us money, how much money, and how quickly. Trust me, you need this!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I am quite fond of my coffee bar :)
First of all, the drinks themselves taste so, so good. The customizations and varieties I can make at home far exceed what I can do anywhere else. And as for quality? My homemade drinks not only rival what I can purchase at a specialty coffee shop, but oftentimes surpass them. Maybe I should do a blindfold taste-testing just to see?
But the benefits of having a coffee bar don’t stop at the deliciousness of the coffee. I’ve stumbled into a whole host of perks related to investing in this set up. Most basically, I wake up happy and excited, knowing that top-notch coffee is right around the corner. This helps me to never snooze (like ever). I find the process of physically making a coffee to be pleasant and relaxing. I like the challenge of matching the specialty drinks I’ve tried at coffee shops, as well as discovering my own specialty drinks through creativity. I also can’t overstate how convenient it is to always have access to great coffee. And I didn’t anticipate how much more I’d enjoy hosting people knowing I could offer them an awesome beverage. Turns out, they like coming over more, too ;). My coffee bar has easily become one of the most lifestyle-enhancing purchases I’ve ever made! And it saves me money, too??
This just went from a want to a must!
Do you know what it usually takes to save money? Coupon and bargain hunting. Lowering insurance coverage. Buying things off-brand. Eating nothing but carbs and sugar.
The common thread here is that it costs us something. There’s a trade off: we save more money by compromising something else we value, whether it be our time, health, enjoyment, safety, or whatever else. So, when we find win-wins - decisions that save us money and provide us with the premium experience - we’ve found gold mines!
Few things are more satisfying than a synergized life - desires and choices that work together to push us in one direction towards our goals. And few things are more frustrating than choices that compete against each other, forcing us to decide between one goal or another. My at home coffee bar is a perfect example of a win-win. Not only is it an awesome lifestyle perk, but it continually makes me money. That said, I thought it’d be interesting to show you exactly what I use as well as break down the numbers to illustrate how it saves cash.
There are two main upfront purchases required to get going: the grinder, and the espresso machine. The other things you buy as you go - like coffee syrups, beans, and milk. Everything else either comes with the espresso machine (like a tamper and a frothing cup), or you already have (like ice trays and measuring cups).
Personally, I use this grinder and this espresso machine. If you wanted both in one machine for counter space purposes, this is the move. I put a good deal of research into these decisions, and I’ve been a very happy customer. I’ve found that mid-level machines are the perfect blend of quality and convenience, and these are the best mid-level machines on the market. Lower end machines don’t have the durability needed to withstand consistent use, nor do they have the features necessary to produce the quality we expect. Higher end machines are so technical and so manual that only extreme coffee enthusiasts can truly appreciate them, like buying a stick shift vehicle instead of an automatic. For most people, we’d prefer to drive an automatic, especially if the quality of the vehicle otherwise is nearly identical. And when the manual costs over 10 times as much money (as is the case with espresso machines), well, yeah, that settles that. If you have questions about these purchases specifically, just comment below to let me know.
As far as coffee syrups go, I’ve found that this online store has by far the best prices - almost half what World Market will sell them at, for example. I also occasionally like making a DIY coffee syrup using vanilla extract and a natural sweetener. I prefer specialty coffee beans from places like Populace or Onyx, but for cost comparison's sake, we’ll say you’re getting Starbucks beans. Regarding the milk - a necessity in any specialty latte - I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk, because I just can’t pass up those health benefits compared to dairy.
So let’s see how this breaks down one grande iced latte at a time:
Say we’re buying beans at $.60 / ounce (Starbucks beans) and grinding 16 grams of coffee for our drink (two shots at 8 ounces / shot). That’s just .56 ounces, meaning the coffee part of our coffee only cost us 34 cents! I buy my almond milk at Aldi, which sells a 64 oz carton for $1.69 - just 3 cents an ounce. Normal milk is even cheaper at 2 cents an ounce. So if we use a cup and a half, or 12 ounces, we’ve spent another 36 cents on milk. Our ice is free, so all we have left is the sweetener! A grande drink will typically have three ‘pumps’ of syrup - aka three tablespoons. Since we spent $6.50 on our 750 ML bottle of syrup, and three tablespoons is the equivalent of 45 ML, we’re paying 39 cents to sweeten each coffee drink. And voila! We’re done.
A grande iced latte with almond milk cost us a grande total of (sorry, had to do the pun..) - just $1.09!! Meanwhile, an equivalent Starbucks drink would cost anywhere between $5 and $7! The reason for the range is Starbucks charges you extra for each flavor you incorporate into your drink. So if you had just an iced latte with three pumps of white mocha, it’d be closer to $5, but if you had one pump of white mocha, one of vanilla, an one of lavender (a personal favorite of my wife’s), you’ll be charged closer to $7.
As a conservative estimate, we could say you’d save on average an entire $4.50 / drink by making your iced lattes at home. WOW.
Of course, the savings only increase when we incorporate seasonal drinks into the discussion - which us cost the same to make ourselves, but sell at coffee shops for a considerably higher price. But on the other hand, our savings could go down a bit if we buy specialty beans that go for $1.25 - $2.00 per ounce. That said, shops that use these beans also tend to have higher prices, so the savings rate between coffee shop vs at home coffee remains comparable.
We could continue nit-picking these variables, but the $4.50 savings number is a solid general base to go off of.
So, how soon do we make our money back? At $550 for the grinder and espresso machine and $4.50 of savings per drink, we break even on exactly our 123rd drink! In other words, if we drink on average one coffee a day - skipping a day every now and then .. and having 2 on other days :) - it’ll take us just four months to make our money back, or just two months if we have a spouse or roommate.
But that’s not the best part.
The best part is that for every drink after #123, we’re essentially earning another $4.50. We’re not just getting paid back at this point; we’re getting paid! Say we stick with our quality grinder and espresso machine for 10 years. How much money do we make? $15,833!!!
Did you read that?
We get paid sixteen GRAND to spend money on something we love and enjoy on a daily basis.
And if we invested our money savings each year? We’ll be a few dollars short of $30,000!!
I love life.
Obviously, how much money each of us will literally save depends on how often we drink coffee, what type of drinks we prefer, how much our other housemates drink coffee, how often the people we host drink coffee. The type of beans we buy can have a wide price difference as well. We could end up with much higher than $16K of savings, or we could have less, depending on how we want to play it. There’s also the reality that we’ll probably drink more coffee in total with an at home machine than we would have without one. But, if we’re being honest: are we really mad about that? :)
Still, if you want to look at this decision for yourself purely economically, meaning you’re interested only in the cost savings and not at all in the lifestyle boost, here’s what to do:
Figure out how much you spend in any given month at coffee shops - on drinks, as well as on pastries, snacks, and sandwiches, since these are sold at an even higher profit margin than the coffee is, and are easily made at home or bought at the grocery.
Take that number and divide it by 5. This is how much you’d spend in a month if you only made coffees at home, never out and about. The difference between your first and second number is your monthly savings, assuming you choose to maintain your exact lifestyle, just moving it from the shop to the house.
But what if you don’t keep the same lifestyle? What if, now that you’ve bought the coffee bar, you start making coffee every day? Do you still save money?
If we spend our $1.09 every day on a drink, that’s just $33 each month. In other words, you could have a specialty coffee drink every day at home for the same price as buying 6 drinks at a coffee shop each month. If you don’t care about the fact that you get 24 more delicious drinks, this is your break-even point: do you go to a coffee shop more that 6 times a month? (i.e., do you go once a week, and sometimes twice?). If so, you’ll make money with your own machine!
It’s time to start saving money and living more richly at the same time!
Do you have a similar at home set up? If so, have you enjoyed it as much as I have??
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