Save Money On Coffee With A Home Espresso Maker

Personal finance guru David Bach made the “latte factor” a popular way to save money. It goes something like this: eliminating (or at least cutting back on) those expensive trips to Starbucks can save you a bundle of money, which then can be saved, invested, and become quite a nest egg at retirement. For instance, if you save $5 a day on specialty coffees, you’ll save $1,825 a year. Save and invest that at 10% and 30 years down the road you’ll have almost $400,000.

CNN Money takes a different approach, suggesting fine coffee lovers consider buying a home espresso maker.

That way, they can still save a good amount of money and yet still enjoy the specialty coffees they love. To this end, CNN has made it easy for people to select their own espresso maker by rating five of the top-selling models. The best marks went to the $400 Breville Die-Cast Espresso Machine (800ESXL). The worst was the $600 KitchenAid Pro Line Series KPES100.

That seems a little pricey. If you can do without the espresso, you can get very flavorful cups of coffee from a french press, which you can pick up for under $50. We like our Bodum ($29.99 at Amazon).

So if you’re a three-Starbucks-a-day sort of person, it’s probably worth it to buy a machine and make your own coffee. Save the difference you would have spent at retail and you’ll be able to fund your retirement to boot.

A whole lotta lattes [CNN Money]


(Photo: mikelens)


Edit Your Comment

  1. PinkBox says:

    I agree with the Bodum french press. I LOVE mine.

  2. Finder says:

    So they neglect to mention the Rancilio Silvia, which is largely regarded as the best semi-auto espresso machine for the price point OR the fact an espresso machine is useless unless you have a burr grinder to match (try finding a good one under $150 US).

  3. drjayphd says:

    Not only that, but the “FOURBUCKS COFFEE TASTES BURNT!” crowd can make whatever brand their little hearts desire. Everybody wins, basically.

  4. hypnotik_jello says:

    Saeco Aroma Classic semi-automatica here. w/ $50 krups burr grinder. works great!

  5. iaintgoingthere says:

    I have one of those fancy espresso machine form Illy Co.

    I had it for about two years and I love it.

    Lets see..$2 for a cup of coffee multiply by 2 cups a day equals $4 per day multiply by 730 days equals $2920…#@$@&% WOW!!!

    I’m going out and buy me a 65 inch LCD TV..

  6. chrisdag says:

    Ebay occasionally has good deals on better espresso machines and I’ve also noticed that every few months in my area Macy’s will offer a high end espresso machine at a deeply discounted price — and I’m never around to go in and check them out and it’s usually a very short duration (weekend only) type sale.

    I ended up joining the Illy USA espresso membership thing. They sell you a deeply discounted espresso machine in exchange for a commitment to order their coffee products for a year. I ended up canceling my membership after about 14 months only because the espresso stockpile at home was growing faster than I could drink it. Once we finish what we have on the shelves we are going to sign up with Illy again (my GF needs a new espresso machine …)

  7. jesseraub says:

    They also fail to mention that using a home espresso machine is not going to match the quality of buying a latte from a store that uses a semi-auto commerical quality espresso machine.

    There’s a reason that that two head La Marzocco machine costs $3,000, people. And it has to do with the internal heater, pressure system, and water supply.

    It won’t taste the same, and it’s hard to perfect. Also, the average person is not going to be able to produce quality microfoam or a good crema without proper training.

    So, the moral of the story is, drink french press coffee or brewed coffee at home, buy 1-2 lattes a week instead of 1-2 lattes a day, and save yourself the money by not buying a home espresso machine.

  8. nweaver says:

    I hate french press coffee, you stew the coffee too much…

    But if you are cheap, get a [] bialetti style stovetop expresso maker.

    Cheap, effective, and easy to clean

  9. m0unds says:

    Alton Brown had a great episode of Good Eats about espresso. I love my french press.

  10. hoosier45678 says:

    @jesseraub: True, but if you’re drinking lattes you’ve already decided that the flavor of the espresso isn’t *that* important. Probably true for capps as well.

  11. Anonymous says:

    i must be a noob, beacuse i’ll drink any crap as long as it is strong. but i do prefer cream and sugar with my crap.

  12. Sudonum says:

    How about this one for $90? I have it and it works great. Was also very highly rated. []

    I make my own latte every morning with a Briel pump machine. It makes good crema, and foams the milk just as nicely as anything I’ve gotten at Starbucks. I’ve been using both of these appliances without any problems for the last 2 years. Also, my nephew is a “barrista” and he swears by my latte.

  13. girly says:

    Even if the taste from a home machine was good enough for you…you have to be committed to using it instead of going to Starbucks.

    If you buy it and only use it 10% of the time while still going to Starbucks…it doesn’t help you much.

    I’d say the ‘give it up’ route is probably easier. But that’s just me!

  14. Skiffer says:

    Another “so obvious, it hurts” newspiece…

    If you’re a three-Starbucks-a-day sort of person, it’s probably worth it to STOP DRINKING THAT MUCH FRIGGIN COFFEE!!

    An article about how much you can save by building your own home meth lab has just as much financial journalistic worth…

  15. Anonymous says:

    I don’t support getting your own espresso machine, leave it to the experienced to make your esresso drinks. I’m a diagnosed coffee addict and have lots of coffee paraphernalia. I once had my own espresso machine (it was expensive), not only is it complicated and high maintenance and you can only make like 2 servings at a time, but it was dangerous. I got read of it after it burned my hand when the steam nozzle blew right off and steamed my fist.

  16. csdiego says:

    Stovetop espresso maker, 19.99 at ikea:


    It’s the only way to go.

  17. yahonza says:

    You could save money, but there are other factors to consider:

    1) The machine costs money, and will cost more money later when you have to replace it.
    2) the Coffeee and filters cost money.
    3) depending on what you like, you may have to sacrifice quality
    4)A machine at home only saves you money for the starbucks you buy near your house. If you work downtown or otherwise buy your coffee drink away from home, a coffee machine at home doesn’t help.
    5) If you buy your Starbucks so that you can sit in the Starbucks and read the paper, the home machine doesn’t help with that either.

  18. nighthwk1 says:

    A La Marzocco machine is $3000+ not because of the quality of espresso it can produce, but because it can run continuously without losing heat or pressure. It’s also built to withstand all kinds of abuse that wouldn’t be expected in a home or office setting.

    Sure, a $30 machine from Walmart is going to produce crap, but spend a little more and you’ll get some decent espresso (as long as you know what you’re doing).

  19. nighthwk1 says:

    I use one of those Italian stovetop espresso makers… definitely the best way to go for the price range.

  20. bohemian says:

    @ JESSERAUB, People can learn to steam milk properly and make espresso drinks. This is not rocket science. How many of your average college age crowd have worked at Starbucks at some point?

    I wanted to perfect my steaming skills and found a very detailed article online. I can get an equally good microfoam out of my cheapie home machine. They are able to teach the average teenager to make a decent coffee I think most capable adults can learn it also.

    My $50 Krupps is 5 years old so I think I have gotten my money back out of it. The big thing on my list of things to get is a new pump machine with a water tank. That is the only thing I really dislike about the cheap one. The shots are not as strong and thick as from a good quality machine.

  21. ElizabethD says:

    I’m not a Starbucks customer (brew my own coffee and tea, thanks), but I imagine the resistance to this concept is that people are buying the experience, not just the java. They like actually going into a Starbucks, soaking up the atmosphere, and then carrying around their status-branded cup to a meeting or class or whatever. It’s hard to fight all that seduction with a cup of home brew, no matter how economical.

  22. lincolnparadox says:

    @jesseraub: You’re absolutely right. Baristas do have quite a bit of training to figure out grind packing, steam pressure, etc. So, if your espresso tastes poopy, maybe ask the people at your local espresso shop to show you the ropes? Just say that you’re curious, and steal their corporate secrets. Speaking of which, you kinda sound like a Starbucks plant. “Microfoam” is what makes me question you. But, you might just be a “Good Eats” fan.

    @yahonza: You sir, most definitely are a Starbuck’s plant.

    My big question is, what investment plan is yielding 10% average returns on long-term investments. Even mutual funds only promise 7%, and they’re having trouble doing that nowadays.

    Tell me, so I can turn my latte money into retirement.

  23. priznat says:

    For a very cheap alternative for expensive espresso machines, check out the Aerobie Aeropress:

    Tastes great, you can make your own Americanos, Lattes, Cappucinos (with one of those little battery powered stirrer things, also cheap) for less than $40.

    Simple to use, easy to cleanup.. I take mine to work as an alternative to the awful office coffee!

  24. TheName says:

    Chalk up one more for the “leave it to professionals.” Of course, I’ve long since befriended more than a few of the excellent baristas at one of my many local shops and, therefore, pay for their wonderfully prepared espressos maybe 8% of the time.

    Cost saving tip: become an appreciated regular.

  25. @Skiffer:
    Amen to the “3 coffees a day = problem”

    Let’s amend that to also include eating out 3 times a day and cutting 15-30$ on food to 5-20$.

    I don’t drink coffee all that often, but I can share some advice for saving money on tea: buy it in bulk from asian markets (the kind that come in tins) and brew in a french press. A tin will cost under 5$ and last you like half a year, as opposed to a box of bagged tea lasting less than a month.

  26. girly says:

    How long does it take to learn the ropes at Starbucks? Maybe a week tops?

    I don’t think learning to make a good esspresso is an issue.

    Just if you’ll use the machine you buy or fall back on buying your coffee.

    I’m just saying if you think you won’t use it you are just probably better off giving up coffee.

  27. Galls says:

    or you could just,

    I avoid anything that alters my mental state like that, as if it where the plague.

  28. tadowguy says:

    Save money by not drinking coffee.

  29. JayXJ says:


    But, I’m pretty sure you can die from a lack of coffee…

    Joking aside this article gives good advice, along the lines of “You’ll cut your feet less if you wear shoes outside”. Seems pretty obvious but not everyone can percieve that I suppose.

  30. hypnotik_jello says:

    @tadowguy: Save money by not breathing

  31. Beerad says:

    @hypnotik_jello: Awwww, but then there’s all those expensive funeral costs…

  32. JayXJ says:


    The machine, coffee, and filters cost money of course but not as much as going to your favorite coffee shop does. Even replacement costs are not that bad, it isn’t like you’re buying an expresso maker or coffee maker every two months. My expresso maker has been chugging along for two years and my coffee maker has been going for threee. Quality wise there are plenty of specialty shops that carry higher grade coffee beans, I used to go this route before marriage and children. For coffee at work I bring a thermos.

  33. Myron says:

    A year ago a we got an expresso maker as a gift. It makes great coffee and we use it every day. Search Amazon for “Lello 1375 Cremissimo”. It’s only $125 but apparently it is able to create the high pressure needed to make good espresso. It seems to have quite a following.

    But why is the $5 a day coffee habit such a regular target for these saving pronouncements? If a $5 coffee makes you happy, then make yourself happy everyday. We should all be so lucky. Besides, before you get too excited about turning $5 a day into $400,000 after 30 years, please consider the not insignificant issues of inflation and taxes. Show me where I can get an after tax, after inflation return of 10% on average for 30 years. That would be quite an investment.

  34. Finder says:

    It’s eSpresso, people, not eXpresso. It’s really not that difficult.

  35. indiie says:

    I love my little cheapo Krups machine. It foams the milk very nicely and has lasted for over 4 years. I will go to a Starbucks or Its a Grind for the fancy flavorings that I don’t normally buy, but for everyday, DIY is great, and takes less time than to park and stand in ungodly long lines in the morning.

  36. B says:

    Tea kettle: 19.99
    Tea bags: 3.00 per 100. I think I’ll skip the fancy coffee makers.

  37. workingonyourinvoice says:

    I went to ross and got an imitation 3 cup french press for $5.99. It makes a far better tasting cup than my $100 Bunn dripper (which lives at the office now), and there’s virtually zero waste. My fiancee and I truly don’t drink that much coffee, and with the bunn we were dumping out at least 3 cups of old coffee each morning. My next *big* investment will be the bodum eileen 8 cup french press, so I don’t have to press twice every morning to make our coffee.

    The burr grinder I got from Target was $25. It makes a lot of dust even on the coarsest setting, but due to the miracle of static cling, it sticks to the side of the collection cup and is easily scraped out without mixing with the coarse grounds. This site is an excellent coffee resource:


  38. UpsetPanda says:

    @B: I’ll say it again and again. Coffee and tea = apples and oranges. Why do some people drink coffee and not tea? THEY’RE NOT THE SAME THING. Contrary to some popular belief, tea and coffee aren’t consumed solely for their caffeine content. Comparing them proves nothing.

  39. DrGirlfriend says:

    @tadowguy: Save money by not spending money on anything that you like or makes you happy, just because it costs money.

  40. BSyris says:

    @priznat: I second PRIZNAT’s recommendation; I’ve had an Aeropress for about a year and am very, very happy with it.

    It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and most importantly makes a great cup of espresso or Americano-style coffee.

  41. legotech says:

    Now the coffee monkeys at SBux are professionals? I mean making up a name like Barista was bad enough now I’m supposed to regard them as if they were a PhD or MBA instead of a minimum wage earner who will be someplace else in a year? I’ll treat them politely as I would anyone else who hasn’t managed to escape the service industries yet (I did my time), but calling them professionals? Wow…tho I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there was in fact a college degree program in coffee.


  42. Alvis says:

    Coffee is a drug delivery method. It’s not supposed to taste good. Would you pay $5 per pill for the most delicious chewable Tylenol ever?

  43. hypnotik_jello says:

    @Alvis: Coffee *does* taste good though. I have cuppa of espresso every morning. black. no sugar. no milk.

  44. UpsetPanda says:

    I just took a good look at the post picture, the smiling latte…if I saw that in my coffee cup, I think I would scream “demon!” and throw it out. *shudder*. Coffee should not have a face.

  45. hypnotik_jello says:

    @MissJ: Uhm, you’re anthropomorphizing the coffee?

  46. DrGirlfriend says:

    Coffee isn’t suposed to taste good? What?

  47. GearheadGeek says:

    Okay… after reading all this I had to go make a macchiato before I posted (oh, and that’s a proper macchiato, not a sweetened caramel-filled Starbucks dessert.) I usually brew with a drip machine in the morning because I’m lazy. I have a Krups non-pump espresso/cappuccino machine (free 2nd-hand… I wouldn’t BUY one without a pump, but with a little experience and good coffee in, this one makes a decent espresso and one can actually learn to steam the milk fairly well.) I also have a Bialetti Musa coffee maker (what people call a “stove-top espresso maker) that’s moved back and forth from Italy with me a few times, and a french press. Maybe I have a problem…

    At any rate, coffee seems nearly as bad as politics for the number of stubborn closed-minded people who’ve determined that their way is best and they’ll consider no other. I’ll pick up Starbucks every once in a while if I’m traveling and don’t know of anything better around, but I don’t think it’s “all that” and always prefer to find a local business. They often make better coffee, and sometimes even cost less.

  48. itmustbeken says:

    “or you could just, not, get, addicted, to, coffee?”

    That’s just crazy talk.

    Those $12 french presses from Ikea are pretty darned good.
    The day they make an espresso maker that cleans itself and reloads for the next batch…I will line up just like those iPhonealoonies did.

  49. LAGirl says:

    this is excellent advice. i bought a used Krup’s espresso maker on Craig’s List a few months ago for $5.00. have been making iced espressos with 1/2 + 1/2 and a bit of sugar.

    so easy to make, tastes just as good (or better) than Starbucks or Coffee Bean, and i’m saving a lot of money!

  50. Anonymous says:

    I love how the picture for this article has a smiley face.

  51. VA_White says:

    Stovetop espresso maker, 19.99 at ikea:


    It’s the only way to go.


    Hell, yeah. I have one. I use it every single day. In a homemade mocha, it tastes great and not burnt like Starbucks espresso sometimes tastes. And before all you mindless devotees pound me and say “it’s not burnt” I don’t care. It tastes burnt TO ME. Starbucks can suck it.

  52. kimsama says:

    I fifth the Bialetti recommendation.

    I also want to throw in (as I always do), the grandeur of cold-brewed coffee. Oh yeah, mason jar-ing it is the cheapest and tastiest way.

  53. Charles Duffy says:

    @priznat: Agreed — the Aeropress is cheap, filtered (avoiding the cholesterol-related issues with using french presses), and can make some really outstanding coffee when used correctly. (I didn’t use enough water for the strength and grind of grounds I was using for the first few months; after correcting for that, the coffee went from good to great).

    I have a french press at the office (in the server room, actually) sitting on the same desk as the Aeropress and the rest of IT’s coffee paraphenelia. The Aeropress is the only one that gets daily use.

  54. upokyin says:

    You people and your fancy coffee. I, for one, miss those big old vending machines that would spew out 8 ounces of dark, caffeinated tar-water for a quarter. I haven’t seen one of those machines since I left a job that had one 5 years ago, and even then it was a relic. I swear, I was the only employee in a building of hundreds who would touch the stuff.

  55. FLConsumer says:

    @Myron: It’s called investing. Read about it and learn before spending. I’ve been running ~14%-22% over the past few years myself.

  56. uricmu says:

    Next on the Consumerist: Save money on fast food: eat at home!

  57. LAGirl says:

    @FLConsumer: damn! tell us how you do it!

  58. STrRedWolf says:

    What is with folks? If you’re going for an in-and-out for coffee, why go and get a diluted French-pressed expresso that’ll raise your chloresterol from Starbucks? Why not go to someplace cheaper like 7-11 or your local coffee house? Hell, some local-area communter train stations are selling decent coffee for half a buck. Look around!

    Besides, if I go into a Starbucks now-a-days, I’m not getting coffee. I’m getting a mint mocha frappachino with a side order of Internet.

  59. Myron says:

    @FLConsumer: I’m glad you’ve been doing well in a bull market. Do you have any idea how the same investments would have done over the past 30 years?

  60. catita says:

    I love my Bialetti Musa stove top espresso maker. It’s slightly pricier than the IKEA version mentioned above, but even at $40 it’s cheaper than my old Starbucks habit. Those lattes really add up!


  61. ajn007 says:

    30 years from now I’ll be dead. Especially if I’m drinking a latte a day.

  62. swagv says:

    David Bach is merely another stooge in a long line of personal finance Dr. Phil wannabees who got out of an analysts’ conference years ago and agreed to tell us that we’re all going to get rich off of our personal Starbucks habits. Like we couldn’t make ourselves even more rich by avoiding unnecessary expenses like getting lunch at the local soup kitchen (Americans are too fat anyway), Dumpster diving behind restaurants, giving up health care premiums to ride on emergency care, donating blood plasma, or providing sexual favors like George Michael at a highway rest stop.

    Worse, there are idiots who are clueless about good coffee versus bad coffee and cannot factor how that might have a personal value in anyone’s life. So they do this math on home espresso machines to tell you how much you’d save, when most of this latest flood of machines in the $100-$400 (and up) market is all landfill-bound anyway. Get rich quick schemes from companies that made toasters, dishwashers, and dental picks who now want a piece of a new market with gullible and clueless newbie consumers.

    If you really don’t like coffee very much, anything from this recent parade of me-too machinery might work for you. But if you have high standards, you’re better off putting Starbucks’ executives in vacation villas — because you’re otherwise just going to end up throwing the piece of junk away and end up back at square one anyway.

  63. Wasabe says:


    I agree about craig’s list. You can buy a cheap used (or in my case never-used) machine that’ll make a good cup if you know how to work it properly.