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Home / Features / So, how much coffee do you need to drink to justify that espresso machine?

So, how much coffee do you need to drink to justify that espresso machine?

Trying to justify splurging out on a new bit of coffee kit? We're here to help, by working out how much coffee makes it worthwhile.

Coffee machines against grey background

Fancy splurging out on a new bit of coffee-making kit? The top coffee machines can get pretty expensive, with some creeping up as far as the thousands. I recently used a coffee machine that cost almost £4000/$5020 to see if it could make better coffee! That got me thinking, how much coffee do you actually need to drink in order to justify the espresso machine that’s in your Amazon basket?

Whether you’re trying to justify the purchase to your partner or just trying to sleep better at night after buying one, we’re going to work it out.

How much does a cup of coffee even cost these days?

A cup of coffee these days is probably more expensive than ever, due to a number of factors. Of course, how much something costs is like asking how long is a piece of string. The price of your brew is going to depend on a number of things. What’s your go-to drink? Simpler beverages like an Americano are cheaper, Where are you based? A pint’s more expensive in London, and so is a latte. You get the idea. But we’re going to come up with some averages here.

We’re going to take a regular-sized latte from the top coffee chains, and work out an average price. It should even out more expensive brews versus the cheaper drinks, for a standard average price of a cup of coffee. After crunching some numbers, we’ve come out to a figure of £3.95 as a standard price.

Google Pixel Fold camera samples indoors coffee

Now, we need to work out how much you’d pay for coffee beans from the shop. Own brand stuff can be as cheap as £1.05 for 100g (from Tesco, if you’re interested), while branded beans can creep up to £2.22 per 100g. The speciality stuff can get as high as £3.25 per 100g. And that’s just from the local shops. Artisanal stuff can get so expensive your eyes start to water. So let’s go for the middle-of-the-road stuff at £2.22 per 100g. Around 16g of coffee gets you a double shot of coffee, so that’s roughly 14p per drink.

You’ve also got to consider milk in this equation. A regular cup of coffee is typically 16oz, which is around 450ml. Believe it or not, the standard two-shot serving only uses 30ml of coffee. So we need 420ml of milk to make the rest. Supermarket own-brand milk is about £0.64 per litre these days, so that’s about 27p worth of milk per drink. It gives us a total price of 41p for a brew at home, which is an awful lot cheaper than one from the local Starbucks.

And what kind of machine can I justify from that?

Last-minute Christmas gifts: Rise Coffee

So from crunching the numbers, we’ve worked out that it costs roughly 41p to make the same cup of coffee at home as you’d order from a chain café. But how does that translate into justifying your espresso machine. Well, that all depends on how much coffee you drink. We’ll look at different tiered machines to work out how much you can spend.

Starting at the cheaper end of things, the Salter Espresso Pro usually retails for around £90. It can pump out 2 shots of espresso at once with 15 bars of pressure. There’s a milk wand for steaming your milk, and a removable drip tray that makes cleaning easier. It’s pretty basic, but you’ll be able to squeeze a brew out of it. Given the price of our at-home coffee, it’ll take you about 220 coffees to break even.

Going to the mid-range option, we’ll take the Sage Bambino Plus, that typically sells for £299. It packs a bit more up its sleeve, such as a 19g portafilter you can fill yourself. You can drop down to just one shot if you wish, and the milk wand here can do your foaming automatically. Looking at the price to make a brew at home, you’ll need to drink 729 cups of coffee to recoup your money.

Looking at the high-end option, we’ve got the Sage Barista Express Impress with a usual ticket of £729. It’s got the most features of any of the machines we’ve looked up. It’s completely manual, so you can control the entire brewing process. There’s even a grinder, to whirr up your beans for you. It applies 10kg during the brew, helps you tamp down, and even has an auto setting to optimise water flow based on how much ground coffee you’re using. But you’ve got to drink an awful lot more coffee to balance this one out – 1778, to be exact.

And, just for fun, we’ll also look at the £4k Jura Giga 10 that we recently tested. It easily throws in every other feature you could possibly dream up. You’ve got cold brew, dual grinders, 35 different drinks, app control, a touchscreen. And it’s an automatic machine, so it does everything for you. But it’s worth 9756 cups of coffee, so that might put you off.

Don’t actually justify your coffee machine purchase this way

Of course, this one’s more for fun. How much coffee you drink is a consideration when buying an espresso machine, but it shouldn’t be your deciding factor. Look for a machine that does what you need it to do, and for one that you can afford. Do you want it manual or automatic? These things will determine how much you should spend.

Profile image of Connor Jewiss Connor Jewiss

About

Connor is a writer for Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website. He has been writing for around seven years now, with writing across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech. Just like everyone else around here, he’s a fan of gadgets of all sorts! Aside from writing, Connor is involved in the startup scene. This exciting involvement puts him at the front of new and exciting tech, always on the lookout for innovating products.

Areas of expertise

Mobile, macOS, EVs, smart home

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